The National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT) says it is currently developing non-toxic chemical product for the Nigerian market as a substitute for the killer sniper pesticide.
The Director General of NARICT, Jeffrey Barminas, a professor, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.
Speaking on the partial ban of “sniper’’ following rising suicide cases traced to the toxic chemical product, Mr Barminas said the alternative by NARICT will help to mitigate the tragic occurrences.
Sniper, a highly toxic chemical which is widely used as a pesticide in agriculture has been converted in many Nigerian homes as an insecticide because of its efficacy.
The chemical which is affordable and easily accessible in the open market became notorious because many Nigerians, particularly youth, are using it as a weapon to commit suicide.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) proscribed the sale of sniper in the open market as a measure to stem the tide of suicide.
The NARICT boss, who supported the ban of sniper by NAFDAC, said his institute is developing a green chemical process that will provide new phyto-compounds and active ingredients from different plants for better formulations.
“With adequate funding, NARICT through our researches will provide a chemical product for the Nigerian market as a substitute for sniper.
He explained that the main active substance in sniper chemical products was “bifenthrin’’, which is a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide.
According to Mr Barminas, the formulations of these products vary in concentration, synergists and carriers, depending on their intended use.
“The other chemicals known as synergists are usually added to increase potency and persistence in the environment.
“Unfortunately, higher levels of these chemical substances make Sniper toxic with adverse effect on human health and environment.
“It is possible to target a replacement of these toxic and poisonous synthetic chemicals.
“This can be achieved by using eco-friendly natural active ingredients that is researched to be safe to humans and ecosystem, but highly effective against pest,’’ he said.
Mr Barminas said the alternative they are developing is extractive ingredient from plants that are non-toxic, not harmful to man and are safe for the environment.
Specifically, he said part of the plants to be extracted is the “neem tree’’ popularly known as “dogoyaro’’.
He therefore called on the federal government and relevant donor agencies to fund the institute’s initiatives on the development of green chemicals and high value-added green chemical materials.
Mr Barminas explained that the initiatives were pathway to new chemicals and products for the industrial development of Nigeria, adding that it would conserve foreign exchange, create jobs and wealth in the country.
He further said the green chemicals and high value-added green chemical materials were products generated from renewable resources as a replacement for fossil materials.
“These products provide higher performance, functionality and more environmentally friendly throughout their entire life cycle. Biomass, bio-waste and other renewable feedstock are used to produce them,” he said.
NARICT is a research and development public sector institute that has the mandate of undertaking research and development in industrial chemicals, biochemicals.
The institute also researches on petrochemicals, polymers and plastics, man-made fibres, solid minerals, effluent monitoring and control for the overall technological advancement of Nigeria.