Ponmo in Focus: Economic Impact of Animal Hides & Skin in Nigeria

In Morning Crossfire 2019-07-25 13:57:03
Ponmo in Focus: Economic Impact of Animal Hides & Skin in Nigeria
Ponmo in Focus: Economic Impact of Animal Hides & Skin in Nigeria

Nigeria’s production of hides and skin is the largest in ECOWAS. But the massive consumption of cow skin popularly called ponmo or Kanda in some parts of the country has been said to be destroying the hides and skin business. Nigerians are also said to earn up to 3 billion dollars in FOREX doing this business, which globally is worth over 72 billion dollars. Scientifically, it has been proven that ponmo has no nutritional value to human health.


Countries like China, Morocco, Tunisia, are also reaping heavily when it comes to exports of hides and skin. In the United States, this business has a value of 57 billion dollars. In fact, it is said that this product is world's preferred material for leather. Nigerians, however have been busy eating it unlike many other countries.


While eating it may not be an issue, there are evidences that some poisonous ponmo exist in the meat market and this is the main focus of Morning Crossfire. NAFDAC is making it its mission to destroy a large portion of the ponmo found that was intercepted at the Seme border.


Regulatory Officer, NAFDAC Nigeria, Ifem Francis said the following regarding the seizure of the ponmo: “Well, NAFDAC joined in the destruction but it was not NAFDAC that declared them poisonous. Now, for customs to have declared it poisonous, they must have taken it to a laboratory and they must have been pronounced poisonous. But for any food item that must be destroyed, NAFDAC must be present. The NAFDAC team did not need to check because it was not handed over to them.”


What makes the ponmo poisonous? He described poison as any substance that could be taken in very small quantity but is lethal in consumption because it can kill. So, if ponmo is declared poisonous, it means that it can kill.


He also sheds light on what hides and skin are. These are the animal skin that has been processed for leather. So, he explained that ponmo by nature is not poisonous but the processed ones reserved to be for leather can be since chemicals would have been infused into it. However, NAFDAC was not briefed about the state of the ponmo that was seized, whether it is fresh or not.


"There is no information whether the one intercepted by customs was fresh or dry. But often, ponmo comes into Nigeria dry and people later soak it," says Francis.

Sherif Quadri points to the real challenge facing Nigerians as this ponmo seizure is always recurrent. A warehouse of ponmo has been seized, trucks have been seized, and several times this year, it has been reported that poisonous ponmo coming into Nigeria were apprehended, and all these show there is a big problem with ponmo.


“If it is something that is already made into ponmo and it is stored in a warehouse, then there is a problem. Ponmo can’t stand for long without decaying.”


Achike Chude says that customs has no right to determine whether food is poisonous as that is beyond its purview. They could go on border patrols, look for imports that are banned and make sure these don’t get into the country. They could have them seized at the port of entry. For those that are approved, tariffs must be demanded adequately.


The problem with this latest ponmo seizure, according to Wemimo is that NAFDAC was only invited to witness the destruction of the ponmo, leaving questions hanging in the air, such as: What was destroyed? Was it just hides and skin, or was it processed ponmo in its dry or fresh state? Did the NAFDAC or custom teams carry out a test to find out the wholesomeness of the ponmo?


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Resource Persons

  • In-House guest Achike Chude
  • Regulatory Officer, NAFDAC Nigeria, Ifem Francis


Written by Jude Chukwuemeka