Local consumption of cowpeas – potential dangers

Cowpeas form a staple in most parts of Nigeria. Consequently, a variety of cowpeas is grown and sold in Nigeria. Cowpeas are notably very nutritious. Cowpeas balance the other starchy staples – yams and cassava. However, as the crop is produced in large quantities, storage has become a problem for local farmers. They use all kinds of chemical insecticides for storage of the crop, endangering the health of the potential consumers. This is probably because of a lack of education or expert advice. Indeed several food poisoning deaths have been reported in the local media over the years.

The situation calls for public education of farmers and consumers. Consequently in my local community, I advise that cowpeas (usually dried) be boiled in ashy water for about 45 minutes. Following that, they should be washed with clean water before cooking. I think the ashy water may help in neutralising the chemicals used in storage. This idea is personal but I wish to publish it for better advice and ideas from Footsteps readers.

Dzever Ishenge
PO Box 684
Makurdi 970001
Benue State

Email: dzeverishenge@yahoo.com  

Traditional and modern medicines

Hearty greetings from Rural Development Society!

It is really encouraging to know that there is a space for us – poor village development organisations – to express our ideas and search for like-minded friends who can benefit from the mutual sharing of ideas. 

For many years – say, from childhood – we have cared for the sick with natural and healthy medicines in the villages. These medicines included plant and animal products which were readily available in the village and also were easily affordable. 

But most of the people nowadays do not know or recognise the diseases or the remedial plants or plant parts for the treatment. As a result we see poor patients die in an untimely way mainly because they do not know how to use the available medicinal plants properly. Also, manufactured medicines are available easily in the village cabins or shops but nobody knows how to use them or how much to use and what the side effects could be.

We want to bring a definite, tangible change and save lives, reducing the pain and side effects of diseases. This is possible provided we have a common effort. For bringing about changes in a positive direction we need to organise training and awareness programmes at different levels, organise village self-help groups, community based organisations, interested NGOs, schools etc towards these problems and ideas, creating a demand for natural treatment at the village level.

Hence we want the co-operation and goodwill of your readership and their suggestions and comments. This will encourage us to go ahead with our mission for the poor State of Orissa.

With all best wishes and hoping to hear from you soon.

George Mathew
Rural Development Society
Kendrapara District

Editor’s note: Are there ways in which the village could receive training about understanding and using over-the-counter drugs alongside re-learning traditional methods of caring for the sick? If you have experience of doing this, please write in to Footsteps so we can share what you have learned with others.

Two uses of papaya

Treatment for worms

Papaya seeds are an effective treatment for worms in the small intestine, particularly hookworms and amoebiasis (in the form of cysts). It is very inexpensive – if not free – to use this remedy. All you need to do is wait for the papaya to ripen and then remove the seeds and dry them in the sun. Once they have dried out, crush them into a powder and, if possible, pass them through a sieve.

Prescription: One spoonful of powder diluted in water (hot or cold) three times a day (morning, midday and evening) for at least five days.

I would be glad to hear from any readers who find this treatment helpful.

Rufen Lukanga Vikungu, Butembo,

Democratic Republic of Congo

Email: kisusuthirufen@yahoo.fr

Malaria prophylaxis

I am interested in information about using a tea made from papaya leaves boiled in water as a malaria prophylaxis. Can anyone tell me about research on this, or their own experiences of using it?

Judith Sawers, SIL-ACATBA, BP 1990, Bangui, Central African Republic

Email: will-judith_sawers@sil.org