By Christiana Ekpa and Umar Muhammad Puma
The House of Representatives yesterday moved to check sale and consumption of artificially ripened fruits and prosecution of those involved in the unwholesome practice.
The House equally urged NAFDAC and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to immediately carry out a massive enlightenment campaign to sensitize members of the public on this menace.
The resolution of the House followed a motion by Hon. Edward Pwajok (Plateau-APC)
Pwajok who reported cases of ripening of fruits with calcium carbide in Nigeria, while moving the motion said, in a bid to make inordinate profit and capitalize on the huge national demand for fruits especially mango, banana, plantain and oranges, fruit dealers used a chemical, calcium carbide to ripen fruits.
“These acts are reported to cause serious health problems because of their radioactive elements thus causing cancer.
“The application of the noxious chemicals is done by farmers and or sellers without the knowledge of innocent buyers and consumers who take fruits because of its nutritional value.”
The lawmaker further disclosed that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) have warned Nigerians to shun the consumption of fruits ripened with calcium carbide.
He added that the act was the reason cancers cases were on the rise in Nigeria.
Contributing to the motion, Rep. Emmanuel Oker -Jev (Benue-APC) said that the report he read about adulterated fruits hit him, knowing that fruits which ought to improve his health posed great danger to it.
He said this was serious and advised NAFDAC to swing into action and put a stop to the unhealthy practice.
Also Rep. Serguis Ogun (Edo- PDP) on his part said in his constituency NAFDAC should constitute a team that will go round farms where these fruits were forced to ripe just like NDLEA .
He added that NOA should disseminate the information with the use of mega phones in all nook and crannies for better effectiveness.
“If NAFDAC needs to be funded and given directives,we should do that and also straighten regulatory bodies as a house.”
Similarly, Rep. Abiante Awaji -Inombek (Rivers PDP) questioned why NAFDAC was paying little or no attention to food processing stressing that the body paid more attention to drugs.
He said that NAFDAC needed to be restructured.”Where is the regulation guiding those who sell fruits? Parliament needs to refine what NAFDAC is doing and widen its scope.”
The motion was unanimously adopted by members when it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara.
The House however mandated its Committee on Health Care Services to ensure compliance and report to the House within four weeks for further legislative action.