From Steve Oko, Umuahia
Scholars from Ihechiowa ancient kingdom in Arochukwu Local Government Area have harped on the need for intensive sensitisation of farmers against the use of chemical preservatives on food item.
This they warned was due to the health implications of using chemicals to preserve food.
The scholars comprising academics from the agrarian community most of who are university dons both within and outside Nigeria made the advocacy during a virtual conference on engineering community development through the instrumentality of education.
In her contribution, Dr Chinyere Ulekwu Okoro of the University of Calabar advocated for meaningful government’s support to rural farmers in food preservation.
She also advocated more active engagement of youths in agriculture while urging them to form cooperative societies for easy access to funds from banks and government to finance their agricultural production.
She stressed the need for collaboration between government and the enlightened class from Ihechiowa for mobilisation of rural people especially the youths to embrace agriculture.
“This can be actualized if the elite of Ihechiowa who are knowledgeable enough organize a forum to educate them in our local dialects, monitor their activities and if possible introduce them to the market so that they can be heard by the government and authorities.”
She frowned at the use of chemicals to preserve food and called for aggressive awareness campaign in the rural communities to stop unnecessary deaths.
Adding his voice, Head, Mass Communication, Rhema University Aba, Dr. Uwaoma Uche, discouraged people from consuming chemically preserved food considering its adverse health implications.
His words :” In this era of health consciousness, most chemical preservatives like nitrates and its likes have been banned and more healthy food preservatives are being used with little and/or no health threats.
“All these should also be passed to our local farmers in order to secure food safety and health safety.”
Other contributors include : Dr Joseph Anyaoha from United kingdom; Kelvin Kalu from Japan; Dr Goodhead Uche from Botswana, and Chief Solomon Amaihe from Brazil.
Meanwhile, the scholars proposed a food Fair in December to educate rural farmers on food production and preservation, maintaining that Ihechiowa is the food basket of Arochukwu LGA.