By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, yesterday told the Senate Committee on Agriculture that the health of many Nigerians is threatened by the daily consumption of items such as pure water and smuggled frozen chicken which he said contained poison that is detrimental to their health.
Ogbeh who made this disclosure at a one-day public hearing in National Assembly on bills bothering on food security by the committee, said the consumption of poison from some food items everyday arose from wrong habit of processing and preserving such items.
The bills are Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service Bill 2016, Food Security Bill 2016 and Nigerian Institute of Soil Science Bill 2016
He cited the example of the preparation of food called “moinmoin” in cellophane, otherwise known as nylon, as poisonous because nylon contains a large dosage of dioxins which he said are naturally inactive in leaves when used to package such food.
According to him, the consumption of sachet water commonly known as pure water usually exposed to sun at over 28 degree centigrade, is poisonous and thus resulting in many cases of kidney and liver failure among Nigerians.
Ogbeh also said but for the attitude of over boiling meat by many Nigerians, many of them would have been infected by tuberculosis from consumption of cow meat. “Many of the cows being moved from one place to the other by herdsmen are already infected with tuberculosis but our practice of boiling meat very well here has been the saving grace from people being infected with the deadly disease,” he said.
The minister added that frozen chicken preserved with formalin which he said was also used for the preservation of corpses and commonly consumed by Nigerians had been the reason many experience serious health challenges in the land.
He also cited the instance of beans and grains preservation with over dosage of pesticides by farmers and sellers as another dangerous food poison which he said had killed many Nigerians and still killing a number of unsuspecting buyers and consumers.
He further disclosed that wrong application of fertilizer by farmers on their farmland, had also led to poisonous consumption of affected food items. “Unknowingly to many of the farmers, there is specific fertilizer for specific crops in specific state in line with soil texture,” he explained.
He, however, commended the committee for working on the bills, pointing out that they would help to guarantee food security in the country and simultaneously curb the production and preparation of poisonous foods, noting that the “rejection of Nigerian farm produce abroad is embarrassing.”
Ogbe assured Nigerians that the prevalent farmers-herdsmen clashes would soon fizzle out as the government is striving to come up with acceptable policy on grazing reserves.
While declaring the event open, Senate President Bukola Saraki said the need for food security in the country and vibrant agricultural sector for the needed diversification of the economy was the underlying factor behind the introduction of the bills.
He appealed to herdsmen and farmers across the country to maintain peace, pledging that the National Assembly was ready to proffer a lasting solution to the perennial clashes over grazing by cattle.
Also speaking when a group of herdsmen from Kautal Hore Socio-Cultural Association in Jigawa State visited him, Saraki who described the perennial clashes between the farmers and herdsmen as unfortunate, appealed to the herdsmen to maintain peace at all times.
“The National Assembly and all stakeholders have been meeting on how to ensure that there is permanent peace between the two major groups in the nation’s agricultural system,”he said.
He expressed concern over the frequent clashes between the two groups in recent times, explaining that Nigeria is not the only country where farmers and herdsmen co-exist.