The local iron-made grinding machines commonly found in local markets and neighbourhoods may soon be replaced with those made of stainless steel by the Federal Government.
This is because the rising cases of terminal ailments has been linked to metal poisoning in diets (caused by metal elements deposited in foods by grinding machines).
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, disclosed this last week in his presentation to the joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture in defence of his ministry’s budget for 2017.
More so on health hazards, the minister hinted that the Federal Government was about to impose tax on imported tomato pastes, 80 per cent of which he said was dangerous to health. In his words;
“Only yesterday, we passed a regulation that we are going to tax imported tomato pastes because the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control gave us a report that 80 per cent of the pastes and purees coming in is unfit for human consumption. The ingredients put in these pastes coming in are actually harmful to health.
“We are also looking at the grinding machines in markets and stores. Metal poisoning is increasing in the our diets. There is a report by Federal Institute of Industrial Research (on this). We are going to introduce stainless steel processing machines for the grinding of grains, tomatoes and onions. Some of the strange diseases of the liver and the kidney you see today in hospitals have to do with the way we process our foods.”
Meanwhile, the federal government had last week, approved measures to cut down the prices of food in the market. However, government explained that it had no plans of controlling the price of food in the market but to checkmate the rising cost of food.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the federal executive meeting, the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh listed some of the measures which include using railway wagons to transport food items, work with state governments to reduce delays experienced by trucks along the roads through all sort of taxes by local governments, stop multiple taxations and greenhouse emissions.
He also said the government had decided to adopt the “Ivory Coast model” in which trucks distributing food items are given special labels.
According to Audu Ogbeh, a set of measures to boost production and attract investment into the Nigerian tomato sub-sector was also approved. The approved set of measures is to encourage farmers both in local production as well as to attract more investment into tomato farming, processing all the way, the value chain to how tomato gets to down to the final consumer.
He further explained that these measures will include ways to make sure that tomato is planted all year round, things like greenhouse equipment, making sure that they can come in without any barriers or duties. They also include the use of both tariff and nontariff measures to address the issues Nigerians are most concerned about, which are the issue of dumping, issues around quality and the standards of food consumed.
His counterpart, the Minister of Investment, Trade, and Industry, Enelamah said FG also approved a set of measures to attract investment and boost local production of some essential commodities, such as tomatoes.