In an attempt to address the high cost of herbicides, the federal government says it would soon commence local production of copper sulfate, primarily used for herbicides, fungicides and pesticides.
Farmers, especially the smallholders, are battling with high costs as well as adulterated herbicides and pesticides in the markets.
This, Daily Trust on Sunday reports, has led to yield reduction per hectare thereby crippling the country’s food sufficiency drive.
The Director-General, Raw Materials Research Development Council, Professor Hussaini D. Ibrahim, said the agricultural industry accounts for more than half of the copper sulfate consumption globally as herbicides, fungicides and pesticides.
He said it is also used as a raw material for the production of chromated copper arsenate which is widely used in the production of wood preservatives.
According to him, copper sulfate is used on a large scale across the globe in view of the multiplicity of its application and industrial uses and as a result the demand for the chemical is increasing.
He said in Nigeria, the copper sulfate requirement is mostly met through importation despite its wide application across various industries.
“The importation of herbicides, fungicides and insecticides for use in the agricultural sector is high and increasing. One of the reasons for this trend is decreasing number of years lands are now allowed to lie fallow as a result of increasing population density. Thus, to maintain a high level of land productivity, adequate production inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides must be applied. This annually increases the import statistics as evidenced by increasing expenditure of foreign exchange on agro inputs,’’ he said.
He said Nigeria spent over N7 billion to import wood preservations for use in the building and construction industry in 2018, adding that the importation of laboratory chemicals and reagents into the country in 2018 was in excess of N20 billion.
This, he said, indicated the need to put in place necessary measures to facilitate local production of some of these chemicals, most especially copper sulfate in view of its diverse applications.
In view of this, Professor Ibrahim said the council facilitated and successfully completed a pilot plant for the production of copper sulfate from copper scraps generated from industrial activities.
The plant, he said, has the capacity of producing 1000kg per day and will employ 80 workers, adding that the pilot plant had been test-run and the products tested.
He said the council in collaboration with the National Research Institute of Chemical Technology was working to expand the project by increasing the capacity of the plant to five tonnes per day for commercial purposes.