By Olutayo Irantiola
Nigeria is a great country with a lot of consumer goods across the broad spectrum of the manufacturing industry. There are some products that are produced within our shores while some are imported from across the globe by both renowned international and national brands. Recently, there have been a lot of revelations about the quality of the products available to Nigerian consumers from within and outside the country.
I heard a story some years ago about the export of some alcoholic beverages from Nigeria to other parts of the world because it was believed that the quality of Nigerian beers were better than the one brewed in other regions of the world. It sounded nice that a finished product is being exported asides the traditional raw materials export.
Recent reports about Made in Nigeria edible products being discredited in Europe. The situation is both alarming and very disturbing. Some certified consumables by the National Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) have brought untold ridicule to the country. This makes one question the integrity of the products, the manufacturing companies and the government agencies.
Possibly, many companies pay their way through these government agencies while they keep expanding their production capacity in the country. The unwholesome practices that abound in the country make it difficult to distinguish between the original products and the counterfeited ones.
Unfortunately, Nigeria is accustomed to damage control as a country; the media mostly get engaged to enlighten, educate and re-awake consumer’s interest in the product and the brand. This is usually after information has gone viral about the hazard of consuming these products. It is pertinent to mention that some of the chemical substances used in the manufacturing these items have adverse effect on the human anatomy over time. It also causes economic misfortune and untimely death for many Nigerians. Nigerians are not entitled to nursing illnesses for the profiteering sake of the companies.
Aside manufacturing products, there are challenges with food production too. According to BusinessDay newspaper of June 7, 2017, Odinaka Anudu and Josephine Okojie reported that the European Union rejected 24 food products for not meeting the stipulated standard. Major products rejected include groundnut, palm oil, sesame seed, and beans. Groundnut was rejected because it contained aflatocin, while palm oil had a colouring agent that was carcinogenic. This is as a result of the extreme application of chemicals on these crops which in turn is dangerous for human health. BusinessDay summed it up by saying that many foods and finished products of Nigerian origin are rejected in other continents on the account of poor adherence to standards.
In another vein, poisonous substances are being imported from other countries of the world for different reasons. According to a comment in Business Day newspaper, Oluwadara Alegbeleye mentioned that Nigeria is a major importer of rice from Asia. Due to the rapid industrialization in that region, the proximity of agricultural, smelting and mining activities to planting regions are postulated to contribute massively to the contamination of these rice. The United States Food and Drug Administration warns that long-term exposure to high levels of Arsenic may predispose humans to skin, bladder and lung cancers, as well as heart disease. Other adverse health effects include kidney damage, bone defects, hypertension and cancer have been attributed to lead, cadmium and mercury toxicity.
We have got to a stage where we import and export deadly consumables. This will also impact our economy negatively because many Nigerians in the diaspora might be denied access to their ‘delicacies’ which is believed to be nutritious. There is a need for all sectors of the economy to wake up to their responsibility in order to change the ill-perception that has betided the country.
Government agencies like NAFDAC, Standard Organization of Nigeria, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health must come together to create a holistic team for effective quality control across board. Also, civil societies, Agriculture Extension officers and the media must not relent in their efforts to sensitize Nigerians about farm management practices, farm produces and other products available to Nigerians. This is one of the sure ways of increasing the life expectancy of our country as a whole.
Olutayo is a PR Specialist, Atọ́kùn, Yorùbá Lákọ̀tun, Book Reviewer, Creative Writer, Cultural Advocate, Poet and Citizen Journalist, Olutayo Irantiola writes from Lagos, Nigeria.
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