The Nigerian government is proposing a ban on the consumption of cow skin known as ‘Ponmo’ or ‘Kanda’ for lacking nutritional value.
“To the best of my knowledge, Nigerians are the only people in the world that overvalue skin as food, after all, Ponmo has no nutritional value,” Muhammad Yakubu who heads the Nigerian Institute of Leather and Science Technology (NILEST), Zaria, Kaduna State said.
NILEST is the government agency responsible for the promotion of leather production in the Agricultural Research Institute Act of 1975. It conducts research on leather products and the use of local tanning materials in Nigeria.
Yakubu, who spoke in Abuja, said that cow skin consumption was contributing to the downward slide of production in Nigeria’s leather industry.
Ponmo is a popular supplement in soups prepared in many Nigerian homes especially in the Southwestern part of the country where families of different class use it as an alternative or together with beef meat and chicken.
Yakubu said prohibiting the consumption of Ponmo will be necessary to revive the comatose leather industry in Nigeria. He is not the first to threaten the consumption of Ponmo in Nigerian households.
In July 2019, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) warned Nigerians to be careful when buying Ponmo.
NAFDAC DG Moji Adeyeye said their investigations revealed that “unscrupulous businessmen and traders are now diverting animal hides meant for industrial use into the food chain for consumption”.
Adeyeye said that investigations further revealed that some of the companies illegally imported hides from countries such as Lebanon and Turkey.
Consequently, NILEST DG Yakubu is calling on the Nigerian Senate and the House of Representatives for legislative backing to ban the consumption of Ponmo.
Yakubu argued that the consumption of cow skin is partly responsible for the present comatose state of tanneries in Nigeria.
He also said the current National Leather Policy had addressed some fundamental problems of the sector.
“If we get our tanneries, our footwear, and leather production working well in Nigeria, people will hardly get pomo to buy and eat,” Yakubu said.
“When implemented fully, it would turn around most of the comatose tanneries and ginger greater output in production.”