As Ramadan fasting is approaching, a new method for ripening fruits adopted by dealers and hawkers in Kano is raising serious concern in the state, Kano Chronicle, observed.
Findings revealed that dealers of fruits, especially mango, orange, watermelon and banana, have adopted a new method for making the fruits mature by applying insecticides such as balm, insects powder killer and other related chemical substances on unripe fruits with a view to ripening them within a day.
Habiba Yusuf, a hawker of mango around Challawa Industrial Area in Kumbotso local government in the state, told our reporter that her mother applied balm on mangoes to make them ripe.
She said, "If we buy unripe mangoes today and apply balm, they will all ripened the next day and we can take them out for onward sale to interesting buyers. Unlike in the past when you have to wait for some days, with the new method, you can ripen the fruits within just one day.
"Virtually every household in Kumbotso and the villages around has adopted this method and is working excellently. It has become a routine process in our home, as we remove the ripened mangoes, we will put the premature ones which will mature the next day."
Another hawker, Naja'atu Isa also confirmed using balm to ripen the mangoes by her mother, but said she always washed them before selling to buyers.
She said, "We always wash the fruits properly so that nobody can be harmed and so far, we have not received any complaint from our customers."
Malam Aminu Ibrahim, a resident of Gandun Albasa in the state metropolis, told Kano Chronicle that he was not comfortable with the method and would not encourage eating any fruit that was ripened through the process.
He lamented that although the method seemed to be working perfectly, but the fruits that were ripened through the process were tasteless, saying "you will find it tasteless when you eat them because the process is not natural."
He said, "Such fruits can also kill. You know the attitude of our people they can even eat the fruits without washing them properly and obviously that can cause serious harm to their health."
Gandun Albasa called on government to take necessary measures to stop the trend in order to protect the lives of the innocent consumers.
Auwalu Muhammad, a resident of Na'ibawa quarters, said he had no problem with fruits ripened through the process, saying he had been eaten them for many years and nothing happen to him.
"My wife always washes the fruits before consumption. We have been eaten the fruits for the past three years and nothing happen to us," he said.
He said although he was not expert to proven safety of such fruits, but he believed that authorities would not allow the trend to continue if it was harmful to human being, saying "we have passed a stage where people can just bring in new thing into their business and government allow them to practice it knowing fully it will harm its subjects."
Commenting on the development, the Chairman of Yanlemo Fruits Market Association, Alhaji Muhammad Umar, confirmed the use of balm and other chemical substances to ripen unripe fruits by some traders in the market.
However, he said when the method was first introduced in the market some years ago; the association, in collaboration with office of Sarkin Tsaftar Kano, rejected it and took the sample of Banana ripened through the process to experts for experiment.
Umar, who could not specifically name the chemical substance they took to experts for experiment, said, "After the experiment, the experts confirmed to them that the method is perfect and the fruits were safe for consumption. We still have the result the experts presented to us in respect of their research. They said once the fruits will be properly washed, it will not cause any harm to human being."
However, a lecturer in the Faculty of Agriculture at Bayero University Kano, Professor Ahmad Manga said it was improper to ripen fruits with poisonous substance and expect such fruits would not kill human being.
"These chemical substances are produced to kill rodents through weakening and preventing them from breathing while some are to cause stomach poisoning to them. I can assure you the substances can also cause similar harms to human being if taken. The only difference is the quantity of intake. In other words, human being can take twice or trice of what animal can take to die. But obviously the substances are equally harmful to human life.
"Ripening is done in stages and each stage has its period and nature which fruits are expected to go through. So, applying chemical substance simply means violating the processes. He noted that, "There was a time I bought some fruits that were ripened through this process and to be honest with you, I cannot be able to eat them because they were tasteless."
He called on the concerned authorities to, as a matter of urgency, address this problem before it goes beyond control.