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By NBF News
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Candel Agrochemical Company Limited has lamented the over N35 billion drain on Nigeria's foreign reserves following its dependent on importation of agricultural pesticides.

The company's technical representative, Mr. Emmanuel George, who gave this hint at the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Panel Review meeting held on Tuesday in Lagos, stated that Candel is committed to invest in the Lekki Free Trade Zone and contribute its quota to the growth and development of the economy.

According to him, '100 per cent of all the agricultural pesticides used in Nigeria and valued at over N35 billion annually is imported, which is a major drain on the nation's foreign reserves.'

He stressed that Candel has 31 NAFDAC registered brands, which include: herbicides, protectants, foliar fertilizers and stimulants, crop production packages, amongst others.

According to him, 'Candel is a Nigerian company with expertise from both local and foreign countries. So the company has taken into consideration the likely environmental health hazards and has mapped out measures to addressing them.'

It will be noted that the EIA panel on Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ) had last year submitted its report to the Federal Government, through the Minister of Environment, Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafa.

The Panel had stated that there were no major negative impacts expected to arise from all phases of the proposed project activities.

According to information gathered by Vanguard shortly after the Panel's review meeting on the proposed LFTZ phase 1 project, the draft report revealed that there are several minor to moderate negative impacts, particularly those relating to construction impacts on the  people  as  well  as  the  possibility  of  infiltration  of  groundwater  by  contaminants associated  with  project  activities  during  operations.

According to the report, there are also several positive impacts such as improved economic benefits at the micro and macro-economic levels. Also, adequate mitigation measures will be provided, to ameliorate the negative impacts.'

The EIA panel was mandated by the Federal Government to assess the possible environmental impact on LFTZ  in order to enable government come out with  long term environmental policy framework for the area.

The host community of the LFTZ, who were represented by their traditional leaders at the EIA Panel Review meeting expressed satisfaction on Memorandum of Understanding signed between the community and Candel at the preliminary phase of the Agrochemical Industrial Project.

They urged the company to consider the interest of the community by providing employment to their youths when the company begins operation.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Environment, who was represented by Mr. J. A. Alonge, the EIA Chairman, Professor F. A Akeredolu, and other government officials from Lagos State Government commended the company for its interest to participate in the LFTZM but tasked it to critically look at the associated and potential impacts of the proposed project on the biophysical and socio-economic conditions of the project area.

They also tasked the company to come out with appropriate mitigation measures to minimize or completely eliminate the identified negative impacts; develop and proffer environmental management plans including monitoring programmes for the operations of the proposed project; and provide defensible information that can be used by LFTZ to defend and/or protect itself against frivolous claims on environmental, social and health impacts of its activities.