Some Nigerians have spoken out against the Federal Government’s proposed ban on the consumption of cooked cow skin, also known as ponmo.
Recall that Prof. Muhammad Yakubu, Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Leather and Science Technology, Zaria, recently stated that the institute and other stakeholders would approach the National Assembly and state governments to establish legislation prohibiting the consumption of cow skin.
According to him, the decision is intended to revitalize the country’s dormant tanneries and leather industry.
He claimed it had no nutritional value and should be banned in order to save the industry and boost the economy.
However, some consumers, traders, and experts who spoke to our correspondent separately said that prohibiting ponmo would exacerbate economic hardship for the poor.
Because of the high cost of the protein, one consumer, Rukayat Ishola, said she was substituting ponmo for beef and fish.
“Personally, I like ponmo,” she said. Because meat and fish are expensive, many of us now eat them. It is also beneficial to the elderly. If you have N200, you can buy ponmo, which serves five people, whereas the cheapest beef is N1,000 and comes in five pieces or less.
“If the government decides to ban it, they want to starve the people because people who don’t have money for meat will buy ponmo.” I buy in bulk, fry it and store it for later use, and my children occasionally bring it to school.
Titilayo Oyinlola, an Ibadan-based consumer, added, “I will advise them not to ban it because a lot of us can’t do without eating it, not only because we enjoy it but also because it saves money.”
“For example, when I came here to buy things, my initial plan was to buy N2,000 in fish, but when I saw the size of fish they offered me, I had to change my mind.” So I decided to spend N1,700 on two Titus fish at N700 each and one ponmo at N300. Things are difficult, my brother, and one must work within a budget.”
Rasaq Balikis, Chief Executive Officer of Bimras Catering Services, said that when planning events, it is best to mix ponmo with meat or fish to save money.
“On most occasions, people don’t like vegetables unless they’re garnished with ponmo and dried fish. People want to experience a different flavor when eating vegetables, which ponmo and dried fish provide.
According to a dietitian, ponmo contains beneficial nutrients.
“It also saves money when planning events because instead of serving two meats, you can serve one ponmo, one meat, or one fish.”
“Assuming you’re having a party and spent N100,000 on meat, if you realize it’s not enough, you can buy one bag of ponmo, which is about 60 pieces, to substitute it and it’ll be fine.” So prohibiting it will have a significant impact on Nigerians,” she added.
Fatimah Sulaiman, another caterer, emphasized that eating cow skin was mostly required by the elderly, adding that medical doctors would always recommend it for the elderly who were at risk of eating beef.
She insisted that such a ban would leave such people with no choice.
Kabiru Agbon, a cow skin trader, said that prohibiting the consumption of ponmo would mean the loss of his livelihood.
“As far as I know, ponmo is for eating; there’s also a white one called bokoto.” Why would the government want to prohibit this right now? Don’t you realize that banning it is an attempt to cause problems and eliminate a source of income for many of us? It’s simply not possible.”
In the same vein, Ishola Olalekan, Chairman, Butcher and Meat Sellers Association, Bola Ige International Market, Ibadan, stated that any attempt to ban the consumption of cow skin would not only harm consumers, but would also eliminate jobs for some Nigerians.
“Our fathers used cow skin primarily for praying mats and other leather forms in the past.” No one ate it before civilization, but as civilization advanced, people began to process it for consumption. Because many Nigerians consume it on a daily basis, prohibiting it will have a significant impact on a large number of people.
“There are people who rely on processing and another group in charge of sales before you get to those who consume it.” “What will they do after the ban?” Olalekan wondered.
Queen Orji, an expert and dietician at Diadem Nutrition and Dietic Consult, believes that banning ponmo to revitalize the leather industry is unjustifiable, pointing out that while it did not contain protein, it served as food for many Nigerians.
According to her, the ban on the food item, which is popular in the country’s eastern and western regions, is an attempt to deny the majority of poor people access to cheap cow skin.
“Ponmo is cheap and affordable, and for many people, eating it with food is similar to taking beef.” People enjoy it despite the fact that it contains no protein or fat. “I’m sure many people will be upset if they ban it,” Orji said.