Mr Egessa Jerry, the Project Coordinator, Post-Harvest Management in Sub-Saharan Africa on Monday cautioned Nigerian farmers against the use of chemicals to preserve their produce after harvest.
Jerry said in an interview with newsmen in Zaria, Kaduna State that the action is contributing to rising cases of cancer in the country.
He spoke on the sideline of a workshop and sensitisation campaign on Enhancing Post Harvest Handling for Food Security organised by Nigerian Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services at the National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaisons Services, Zaria.
Jerry, an expert in the field from Uganda, said post harvest issues highly affected Nigeria in different dimensions.
“From our discussions, we have realised that in Nigeria this issue is very important and significant because we learnt that chemicals are being used for food ripening.
“Chemicals are also being used to preserve grains like maize, beans among others, post toxin, that have to take six months after application before somebody consumes.
“These chemicals are being used regardless of their effect on human beings. People apply it and before it reaches six month they bring it out and consume which very dangerous to health, as it causes cancer.”
The expert stressed the need to reawaken Nigerians to revert back to the use of simple technology like triple bags or jute bags for storage instead of using chemicals.
“These are very simple technologies that actually you can store your grain for a very long time even up to five years without using any chemicals and they can go a long way in saving lives and improving food security.”
Jerry advised participants at the workshop to pick up at least one issue to disseminate within their areas of operation.
“They should go and tell people there is something we can do about what we eat. Let me share with you, there is a killer within the food we eat, it is called aflatoxin.
“Aflatoxin is the cause of serious cancer in human beings and just about the way we treat our food, how we harvest the food, how we keep the food and this poison gets into the gene of the cops.
“And this poison cannot be broken down, the moment you eat it as a human being, it remains in your body until it finishes you.
“A very simple thing, if we just teach our people how to handle food that will be taken to the market or the food to eat, we can reduce the diseases especially cancers by half,” he assured.
Jerry said his organisation is implementing a project on post harvest management for Sub-Saharan Africa, with the pilot scheme held Benin and Mozambique, adding that he would share some of the lessons at the workshop.