• Monday, May 27, 2024
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Fresh attempt to ban Ponmo faces backlash

The proposed ban on consumption of Ponmo, the local term for edible hide, a delicacy consumed predominantly in the Southern part of the country, but also gaining in popularity in the North, by the federal government might meet a brickwall as a study conducted by Growth and Employment in states, (GEMS), a programme funded by some international organisations and most Nigerians have kicked against it, saying substantial economic and social values will be lost.

Besides, most Nigerians say banning the popular delicacy would swell the labour market, particularly the women gender, who are the processors of the hides and skin.

GEMS, is a five year programme in support for meat and leather industry jointly funded by the World Bank and the British department for International Development, DFID. Its aim is to increase growth and employment, especially for poor men and women, by improving competitiveness in strategically important Nigeria industry clusters in selected states and nationally, as well as through business environment reform. The target market for the GEMS component is meat and leather industry.

In fact, Lagos state government, which was considering the option of banning the processing of the skin from animals slaughtered in the state to encourage the leather industry had to jettison the plan following the outcome of the study conducted by Solomon Agama, a consultant and managing director/chief executive, Farms to Market synergies limited, Abuja last year.

Akinwunmi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development had last month called for competent regulations that would check the consumption and sale of the product.

Adesina, who spoke through Ademola Raji, Director, Animal Production and Husbandry in the Ministry at the 3rd joint anniversary of Animal Science Association of Nigeria (ASAN) and Nigeria Institute of Animal Science at the University of Ibadan said that the banning of the product would ensure that livestock farmers would stand good chances of making high dollar return if the hides and skins are tanned into leather.

Similarly, Isuwa Adamu, director-general, Nigerian Institute of Leather Science and Technology (NILEST), Zaria last week warned against the consumption of the product, arguing that consumption of the product as meat substitute was dangerous to health. Adamu argued that scientifically, ponmo does not have any nutritional value to human health.

But, Agama, an agricultural economist said that the report, which was a product of methodologies developed and used to discover the socio economic contribution to Lagos state of ponmo versus leather, included interviews, focused group meetings, visits to abattoirs and markets, and a public opinion poll.

He said that the findings were that ponmo contributes to the economy of the state more that leather, and that most respondents kicked against the proposed ban.

Part of the report said, “The volume and value of the ponmo value chain is higher than that of leather in Lagos, that if ponmo is banned and the hide is diverted to leather, substantial value in monetary terms will be lost. More people are employed in the ponmo value chain than the leather value chain in Lagos state.

“More women and the poor are engaged in the ponmo value chain than the leather value chain, and if banned and diverted to leather, most of the women engaged in the value chain will be displaced.”

The research found out that, for instance, 5000 hides taking from 5000 cattle slaughtered daily, with an average sale of 11,200 from one hide means, making N56million, compared to an average of N275 from the sale of one square foot leather(20.5) making a total of N28,187,500.

According to Agama, “About 7 million cattle are slaughtered annually in Lagos, with majority of hides used as ponmo, Given the high price that hides fetch in the food market, estimated to be as much as five times the price paid by tanneries, there is little incentive for producers to sell their hide to the leather industry.”

The report further said “Even if ponmo has little nutritional value, it is a harmless delicacy that people enjoy eating and action could be regarded as anti-poor policy”.

Bolaji Shogbeni, managing director, Metromart services limited, a meat contractor that supplies meat to enterprise consumers in the state, said that hide from the slaughtered animal is usually presold for N15,000 to N20,000 to ponmo processors before slaughter. “The company will not support the policy because it will reduce profitability, disrupt the family livelihood of ponmo processors which has been passed from generation to generation, cause industrial unrest at the abattoirs.”, Shogbeni said.

Sheriff Sanusi, GM, Harmony Abattoirs management services limited said that market forces should rather be allowed to determine the flow of hide

Kolawole Kuku, intervention manager, meat processing and Yinka Abimbola all of GEMS, in an exclusive interview with Business Day said that the country stand to gain more from the consumption ponmo as revenue derivable from it is more than the leather which are in low demand and less competitive in the country.

Skin is a by-product of the meat sector when hides and skins are stripped off slaughtered carcass to get to the other parts of animal. Hides are thicker and refer to cattle hides while skins are thinner and refer to sheep and goat skins.

John Omachonu