18 August 2017

Ghana: Let's Handle Our Local Vegetables and Fruits Hygienically

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It is, indeed, true that Ghanaians do not value what belongs to them, and one obvious example is our unhygienic way of handling our locally-grown fruits and vegetables.

Roaming through our markets, one would see our home-grown fruits like mango, pineapple and water melon, and vegetables like carrots, onions and pepper displayed on the bare ground.

It is flabbergasting that the trader who sells these locally grown vegetables and fruits displayed on the bare ground, patiently washes and arranges foreign fruits like apples and grapes for sale. She arranges the foreign fruits nicely on a clean table.

Besides, the trader pays special attention to the foreign fruits and vegetables, perhaps, because these fruits and vegetables were shipped from Europe and the US.

The unhygienic handling of our fruits and vegetables makes them unattractive, and sometimes, nauseating.

Unlike grapes and apples which make the consumer salivate even before he or she purchases them (exotic fruits and vegetables), the same consumer grimaces when he or she goes to purchase oranges, pawpaws, home-grown carrots and guava, because our crops are not only dirty, but have been displayed on the dirty ground.

The Chronicle does not think our traders are oblivious of how nutritious our fruits and vegetables are.

But, one fact The Chronicle does not want to lose sight of is how some of our farmers, from cultivation to harvest, handle the crops.

Some of our farmers, who cultivate our locally grown fruits and vegetables, collect water from gutters to water the crops.

The farmers are willing to plant for food and jobs, however, their only source of water to feed their crops is unhealthy water in the gutters that are metres away or close to their farms.

Based on this background, the vegetables and fruits, from 'birth', are unhygienic, thus posing a health-threat to the consumer, even before getting to the bare ground in our filthy markets for sale.

The Chronicle believes that this can change, and so the right call by the government to build irrigation dams in all the villages, in its 'one Village, One Dam' policy.

When these dams are built, farmers would have access to clean water to grow their crops for consumption.

While the government waits to roll out its 'one Village, One Dam' policy, it is the view of The Chronicle that the Ministry of Agriculture starts digging boreholes for groups of peasant farmers in our various towns and villages, to source water to feed their crops.

That way, our locally grown fruits and vegetables, right from 'birth, would be healthy.

Then, the sector Ministry, through the agric coordinators of the various Metropolitan, Municipal, District assemblies (MMDAs), should visit the markets to educate the traders on the need to treat the locally grown vegetables and fruits the same way they handle apples and grapes.

The traders should also make conscious efforts to attractively package the produce to make them hygienic for consumption.

Cleanliness does not only apply to how elegant we want to look in our clothes, but how we treat the food we eat.

A healthy living depends more on what we eat; and what we eat must be cultivated and sold hygienically, then, Ghana can have a stronger workforce and low mortality rate.

Ghana

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