Friday, 25 September 2009


The Citrus Family.

In Lagos Metropolitan Area markets, the appearance of the citrus family- consisting of sweet orange ( scientific name : citrus sinensis ), sour orange ( citrus aurantium ), lime ( citrus aurantifolia), grape-fruit ( citrus paradisi ), lemon ( citrus limon ), tangerine ( citrus reticulata ), pomelo (citrus grandis ) and tangelo ( which is a hybrid between tangerine and pamelo ), is seasonal. When in season, the fruits come in diverse colours and sizes. In our markets, their colours range from green to a group of colours that lie midway between red and yellow.
In this part of the world, the cultivation, harvesting and storage of citrus fruits is laborious. Oranges and other members of the citrus family have peculiar climatic and soil requirements, as well as unique planting and propagation methods. Indeed, after planting, their maturity and harvesting occur between three and seven years. Rain and other climatic vagaries also play a role on the bumperness or otherwise of citrus harvests.
The first members of the citrus family that usually appear earlier than others in Lagos markets the lime, sour orange and tangerine.Their initial quantities in the market are small; they cost high and are not very juicy or succulent yet. Since harvesting is done by hand or harvesting knife, the arrival of citrus fruits into the markets is gradual at the initial stages of harvesting. This is usually between the months of July and September. In the meantime, sweet oranges are imported from neighbouring countries of West Africa to augment our shortfall. People patronize them in spite of their high cost because they are sweet, succulent,fleshy, and juicy.
When Nigerian oranges, grape-fruits and other citrus – family eventually arrive, Lagos area markets are agog with them, and the populace consume them with relish. Nature is so kind that the full-blown harvesting of citrus co-incides with the dry season,and at this period the have a sweet and pleasing taste, in addition to being good thirst-quenchers!
Virtually all the members of the citrus family in our markets are of immense benefits to the populace. For example, lemon ( citrus limon ) has a lot of nutritional as well as medicinal benefits. The lemon leaf is rich in aromatic essence-( limonene and linadol ). It also serves as a good sedative, giving no side effects. Lemon juice is rich in vitamins B1, B2, and C as well as flavonoids and organic acids. Lemon juice is also reputed to be a good remedy for scurvy, a disease caused by lack of Vitamin C. Sweet orange ( citrus sinensis ) is also rich in vitamins and minerals.

Nowadays, there has been tremendous progress in the processing of citrus fruits. We have modern, fair-sized factories that process oranges into canned orange-juices. Some are also processed as bottled orange-juices. These canned and bottled products sell very well in Lagos markets and shops, and they are in high demand at social functions, picnics and get-to –gethers. Thus, the citrus family serve as industrial raw materials to some of our factories in Lagos State.

It is pertinent to mention that the sale of citrus on wholesale in Lagos Area is carried out on many sub-urban locations,namely, the “ Agege Market ,’’ the “ Ketu Market,’’ and the “ Okokomaiko Market,’’ just to mention a few. Lorries and trailers bring them from the hinterland into Lagos. Because they are perishable items, whole-sale merchants sell them quickly to buyers who then transport them to neighbourhood urban markets for retail trading.

PHOTOGRAPH : Diverse members of the citrus family on sale at Lagos Markets.

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