May 12, 2023
Mangoes flood Zuba Fruit Market in Abuja on Friday (13/4/12). There Is Need to Preserve Our Seasonal Fruits. NAN Photo
It’s recipe for cancer and hazards — Health Expert
By Peter Duru, Makurdi
THERE has been a growing concern among consumers of fruits and vegetables in Benue State following the discovery that some of the sellers use chemicals to ripen them to make quick sales and maximize profit without minding the health implications of the dangerous act.
It is suspected that the Shylock fruit dealers use chemicals such as calcium carbide on unripe fruits such as mangoes, bananas, pawpaw and apples to ripen them and give them out as ready for human consumption.
By so doing, unsuspecting consumers buy the fruits with delight and go home only to discover that they are not tasty despite appearing ripe and attractive on the surface. And, as this dangerous practice came to the fore recently, many fruit consumers have started developing cold feet about buying fruits and vegetables, which are produced in large quantities in Benue State.
While many consumers express worry over the rising danger of fruit ripening with chemicals, Arewa Voice gathered that health experts are also cautioning against the use of chemicals to ripen fruits, warning that it is dangerous to health as it could lead to cancer.
A medical expert, Dr. Jude Uwar, warned that those who resort to using chemicals to ripen fruits to make brisk businesses are indirectly killing their fellow beings. “This practice is injurious to the health of the direct consumers, and it is responsible for the high rate of cancer in society,” Uwar cautioned.
A fruits trader in the popular Railway Fruit Market, clearly Makurdi’s biggest market, Mr. Agber Iorwuese, acknowledged that there had been reports of people resorting to artificial means to ripen fruits but that it had not been officially tabled before the market leaders. He said: “There have been a series of allegations of traders applying chemicals to ripen fruit like mangoes and bananas, but the truth is that such information is yet to be verified. In fact, in this railway market we have no record of such. But there have been reports that some people used to ripen the fruit from the source in the villages before bringing it to the market.
“We learned that sometimes the mangoes are plucked and kept for about two to three days before they are moved to the market. So one cannot say emphatically what happens there. But here in the market, it does not happen. But most times when mangoes are brought to the market, they are already ripe, and the unripe ones are not many. So one cannot tell the process it goes through in the villages; but here, we do not tolerate such. Last year we heard a report that Benue mangoes were being rejected and sent back from two Abuja markets over the issue, but we have not noticed it here in our market.
“Only two weeks ago, our chairlady came out and sounded the warning to all traders that such act would not be tolerated in the market. And I am sure everyone took the advice. I am sure she came out to sound the warning following fears being expressed in other quarters over the development, though we have not noticed it at the railway fruit market. And you know that a chemical like calcium carbide has odour and if you drop it here, anyone nearby will perceive the odour. So it is difficult to apply it here in the market. It might happen elsewhere, but not here. We also heard that they use it to ripen plantains and bananas too. We heard of a dealer who used the chemical to ripen his banana, and in no time it became soft and unnaturally ripe. And any banana you treat in that manner gets ripe but goes bad in less than four hours. So I advise my fellow traders to avoid the temptation of applying chemicals to food items because it is dangerous and it is not recommended by authorities. We must put an end to such practices because of the implications for human life.”
Reacting to the ugly development, the Benue State Chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Saaku Aondongu, insisted that both farmers and sellers of fruits in the state have been warned against the use of chemicals to ripen fruits for consumption. He said the practice was inhuman and dangerous and should never be used by anyone in the state.
The AFAN chairman said: “We have been dissuading farmers from using anything that is not natural to ripen any fruit, and we are not joking about it. That is why we are also now emphasizing the use of organic fertilizers to check the use of dangerous chemicals on our farms.”
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