By Epamba Jemimah
Ever since Ketura Yaje, 23, caught diarrhoea after eating locally cultivated huckleberry (njama-njama), she has been sceptical about eating the vegetable again.
She spent over 18 hours at a local hospital for treatment after eating njama-njama that was, presumably, cultivated using excessive fertilisers.
“I bought njama-njama from the market in Buea and after consumption, I was rushed to the hospital where I was given urgent medical attention for over 18 hours and was administered four bags of drips to remedy the condition,” Yaje said in an interview with The Post.
Ever since she overcame her predicament, Yaje has been quite selective of the type of vegetables she buys from the market. She now goes for what is commonly called “country njama-njama”, which is huckleberry that is cultivated without fertilisers.
Like Ketura Yaje, Martin Awasung, 26, currently living in Buea, suffered stomach upset and diarrhoea for over six hours after eating njama-njama he bought from the market. He said he loves the vegetable, but now he is afraid of eating it again.
“I was affected by diarrhoea after I ate njama-njama I bought from the market and I immediately took First Aid that I had at home and was relieved. Since that day, I have stopped consuming njama-njama here in Buea and chose to wait when I go back to the village then I can start consuming again. This vital vitamin that enriches the body has now become toxic for human consumption due to misuse of chemicals on the cultivation,” he said.
Njama-njama is one of Cameroon’s most popular vegetables and it is difficult for many people to completely avoid it. It is most commonly prepared with corn fufu and the blend constitutes one of the country’s popular meals. Nineteen-year-old Dayana Kate previously found fufu corn and njama-njama irresistible but, today, she thinks twice before eating it.
Kate caught diarrhoea after eating njama-njama and she suffered the predicament for over 10 hours before seeking medical aid. “I was so weak as a result of diarrhoea, which I suffered for 10 hours. I bought it from the market until I had to take some medicine before regaining some strength then I rushed to the pharmacy to get drugs,” she said.
Although liked and consumed by many people, njama–njama has brought fear in the hearts of many consumers because of the after-effect involved after consuming it. It is due to this that an agricultural technician and Head of Department of Agronomic and Applied Molecular Sciences, Dr Mercy Ngone, of the University of Buea, advised on how farmers should use fertilisers. She advises that farmers should first know the soil nutrient that is lacking before using fertilisers, because, some farmers just use it to boast their production.
“Fertiliser, on its own, is not harmful on humans but the misuse turns to create health issues on people. Fertilisers are supposed to be applied on large scale production like plantation farming, but, today, farmers are ignorant and they turn to apply fertilisers even on small nursery farms, which is not up to a hectare.”
She stresses that farmers should strictly follow the exact measurement given to them by the agriculturalist to be used per hectare, because intense research has been carried out before giving a basic measurement.
Farmers Had Their Own Stories To Tell
Agenlina Awasung, a farmer who has been cultivating for over two years explains how she takes precaution when applying fertiliser: “I use fertilisers on my farm following the measurement of 5mg per smaller ridge and if the ridges are big and long, I use 15-20mg of fertilisers in a small measuring cup given when we go to buy fertilisers from the shops.”
She said she has just a piece of land where she carries out all the production and the land has been used over the years, that is why she uses the fertilisers. She said other farmers should use the correct measurement of the fertiliser, because, diseases are caused when they use overdose fertilisers.