Friday, 30 April 2010


By S. Olanrewaju Disu.

Though our markets in Lagos State in general are stocked with numerous agricultural products which we consume as food – i.e. fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh and dried fish, meat and live-stock – we also have agricultural products that are purely medicinal, at least in our local content. One of such is the “alligator pepper” or in local parlance, “ataare”.
Scientifically known as “Afromomium meleguata”, the “alligator pepper” belongs to the family “Zingiberaceae”, the ginger family. Peculiarly, the seeds of the fruit are encapsulated in a pod.
The “alligator pepper” is a very important herb in Yorubaland, whose people are the dominant ethnic group in Lagos State. It is used for diverse traditional activities. For example, it is a traditional wedding gift – i.e. it is included in dowry requirements when taking a new bride. It is also used as a curative for gun-shot wounds and tooth –ache.
During traditional naming ceremonies of new- born babies, alligator pepper is used while offering prayers. After the mandated period of apprenticeship, artisans must present alligator peppers, among other things, for special prayers during their “freedom” or graduation ceremonies.
The leaves of the “afromomium meleguata” are locally used to cure malaria fever. The chewing and swallowing of the seeds are also used to ameliorate the state of drunkenness. Furthermore, our local people swallow the seeds before embarking on travelling as a protection against accidents – whether road, water or air accidents – and it works!

PHOTO : Alligator Pepper on sale at the “Mushin Market”.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

A R T I C L E 32 : G I N G E R

By S. Olanrewaju Disu .

The Ginger is a peculiar agricultural product in our markets, especially the bigger ones that sell exotic farm products and condiments. Historically, ginger is a tropical Asiatic herb with pungent aromatic rhizomes. Scientifically, ginger is called “Zingiber officinale, Family Zingiberaceae”, the ginger family.

Ginger is used as a condiment, a stimulant, and as a carminative. Industrially, ginger is used in the manufacture of ginger-ale, ginger-beer, as well as ginger-bread.
[ginger-ale is a sweetened carbonated non-alcoholic beverage, flavored mainly with ginger extracts; ginger-beer is also a sweetened carbonated non-alcoholic beverage heavily flavored with ginger or capsicum or both; while ginger-bread is a cake made with molasses and flavored with ginger.]

With regards to domestic cooking and commercial food vendoring, spices can give different flavors to almost any food and ginger is one of the few spices that produce a hot dish, especially a pungent seasoning.

Photograph : Ginger on sale at the “Mushin Market”.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Article 31: Millet .

By S. Olanrewaju Disu .

An interesting agricultural product in Lagos Area Markets is the millet. Both in physical size and volume of sales, the millet is at the bottom rung! The millet is a small-seeded annual cereal, which is used for food by humans and also fed to birds and domestic livestock. The number of humans who use the millet as staple food is small relative to the whole populace.

The millet found in our markets in Lagos Area is botanically called “Pennisetum typhoides, Family poaceae”. It is grown in the savannah and semi-arid northern parts of the country. People who consume the millet and millet-based foods in Lagos State are people from the northern parts of the country who have settled in Lagos.

Food made from millet include the “tuwo” – i.e. millet-porridge; “palp” – i.e. millet- custard and “kunu” – a very popular food-drink seasoned with local condiments. People who use millet as food conventionally take the “millet-palp” as their breakfast tea. This is taken with sugar to taste in addition to fried bean-cakes. Though the millet is an annual cereal, it is always available in our bigger markets, e.g. the “Mushin Market”, all-year.

Photo :
The millet on sale at the “Mushin Market”.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


By S. Olanrewaju Disu .

The pear is regarded by most inhabitants of Lagos State as an “elite” food. The demand for it is not high. Pear is mostly eaten by the enlightened, educated and sophisticated members of the populace, who cherish the importance of all fruits.

The pear is the fleshy pome fruit of a tree ( Pyrus communis ) of the rose family – “Family Rosaceae”. The pear tree is grown in orchards, attaining great age and large size with enormous height.

Py-rus is the classical name of the pear tree; it is distinguished from another genus, the genus Malus, by most of the leaves being glabrous, hard and glossy at maturity.

Cultivation of pear is not very intensive compared with some other farm products that are in higher demand. Nevertheless, there are always sellers and buyers of pear in our markets when it is in season.

The fruit is harvested immediately it is ripe and its color is deep green. When it turns purple, this is a sign that it’s getting over- ripe. Because of its almost sour taste, some people eat pear with some pinch of salt.

Photographs :
( A ) --- A fruiting pear tree in orchard in Lagos State.

( B ) --- PEARS on display for sale at the “ Isolo Road Market”.

Thursday, 15 April 2010


By S. Olanrewaju Disu .

A typical Lagos Area Metropolitan Market is inundated with peppers every day : week-days, week-ends and public holidays, too! Very colorful, usually bright red and sometimes green or yellow in color, peppers give us a picturesque scene indeed.

Peppers sold in our markets in Lagos are usually farm-fresh. In addition, however, we have dried pepper, which usually comes in handy when pepper is not in season and its price is high, as well as ground pepper in powder form.

Botanically, they are classified as “Capsicum annum, Family Solanaceae”. Our peppers come in varieties : we have sweet pepper, chilli pepper, bird’s eye pepper as well as green pepper.

The peppers in our markets are put to various uses. The average Lagosian has a pepper-pot at home: this pepper-pot usually contains a stew of vegetables, meat or fish and a variety of local condiments. Indeed, peppers add flavours to our stew and soup. Peppers are rich in vitamins and minerals.

Pepper-planting is done on a very large scale in the northern part of the country. Land preparation is done mechanically by ploughing, harrowing and ridging. Edaphic and climatic situations in the north coupled with the availability of extensive land mass, favor pepper cultivation. Huge harvests of fresh pepper are always transported down south to Lagos in long haulage trucks known locally as “trailers”. As usual, they find their way into Lagos through the “Mile 12 Market”. Unless there are industrial disputes and strikes by truck-drivers, peppers are always driven into Lagos on a continuos daily basis. Periods of drought or other natural disasters are counteracted by large-scale irrigation of highly mechanized farms in the northern States of Nigeria.

Hotel and catering services benefit a lot from the ready availability of peppers in our markets. This enhances their food productions, which is largely dependent on peppers. The same thing applies to fast-food establishments and other eateries that serve the teeming population.

Photo’s : Colorful display of peppers at the “Ogba Main Market”, “the Ogba Sunday Market”, and “the Bariga Market”, all in our Lagos State.


By S. Olanrewaju Disu .

The plantain is a banana plant. It is an angular, yellowish-green, starchy fruit. It is edible when cooked, and it’s a very important staple food throughout the state, nay, throughout the tropics. Botanically, the plantain is known as “Musa paradisiacal”.

In Lagos Metropolitan Area markets, the plantain is not found in every market. It is usually available in peculiar markets of the metropolis, e.g., the “Idi-Oro Market”, the “Ogba – Sunday – Sunday Market”, and the “Okokomaiko Markets” along the Badagry Expressway. The reason is logistic. Plantain fruits come in bunches or spike form – 2ft. long or more. Moving them from farms to the markets requires considerable labor and transportation, with its attendant costs. Therefore, selected markets are used as “depots” for whole-sale or retail sale of plantains.

The plantain is available for sale all-year round, because of its massive cultivation, both professionally by big-time farmers and also by gardeners and household planters.

The fact that people enjoy plantain’s edibleness cannot be overemphasized. Plantain can be roasted and sold at strategic urban centers. Roasted plantain is known as “boli”. Plantain is also fried for sale at street corners. Fried plantain is known as “dodo”. Various ethnic groups in the State eat plantain in one form or the other. Ripe, unripe and even over-ripe plantain fruits serve one purpose or the other!

Traditionally, the plantain plant is very useful, too. Herbalists use the green leaf of plantain-tree to treat diabetes. Also, they use the whitish fluid that oozes when plantain leaf is cut to treat fresh wounds. The juice stops the flow of blood very quickly.

Finally, it must be mentioned that the sap of the plantain plant is a potent herbal juice that can be used to cure a variety of illnesses locally.

Photographs : (A)—Roasted plantain, “boli” at “Iyana Ejigbo” Market.

(B) ---- Wholesale & Retail Sale of Plantain at the “Ogba Sunday Market”.


By S. Olanrewaju Disu.

The kola-nut is a very important “cash” crop in our markets in metropolitan Lagos. It is described as a “cash” crop because it is a money-spinning agricultural product in Lagos Area Markets. Whole-sale kola-nut merchants are fairly comfortable in living. All-year round, there are demands for kola-nuts because of its peculiar uses.

The kola-nut is the bitter, caffeine – containing seed of a kola-tree used especially as a masticatory; and in beverages as well as pharmaceuticals.The kolanut-tree, “Cola nitida, Family Starculiaceae, the chocolate family,” is cultivated in tropical areas of Africa.

In the olden days, kola-nut cultivation and trade was so important in Lagos State that an area was named after it – “Igbobi” – i.e. kola-nut forest! Today, this area is inhabited not by kola-nut trees, but a famous High School aptly named after “Igbobi”. There are offices and residential homes, too. Kola-nut tree planting had shifted to neighbouring states within the tropical region of the country.

What are some of the peculiar uses of the kola-nut? People in the northern part of the country traditionally use kola-nut as a masticatory. Their geographical location is semi-arid and kola-nut comes in handy to ward off thirst. And Lagos State is an important transit point in the kola-nut trade from the tropical south to the semi-arid north. One of the items to be purchased and presented as a bridal price in our traditional wedding is the kola-nut! Big, exotic ones, too!

Kola-nut uses stretch more. It is used in colorful chieftaincy ceremonies; as an item of gift to royalty; and also in traditional celebration of new-born babies. Indeed, almost all the ethnic groups in the State use kola-nuts for one traditional ceremony or the other.

Finally, it must be mentioned that local kola-nut merchants have a special way of storing kola-nuts – i.e. wrapping them in special leaves because kola-nuts are vulnerable to insect attacks.

PHOTO’S: Wholesale and retail trade of kola-nuts at the “Mushin Market”.

Thursday, 1 April 2010



Year-in, year-out, the arrival of “awin”, whose English name is “velvet tamarind” is a welcome sign that we are in the dry season and nature has sent down a thirst-quencher. “Awin” or velvet tamarind, is botanically known as “Dialium guineense, Family Leguminosae-Caesalpinioideae.”
Generally, the fruit is brown to black, ovoid to about 2.5cm in diameter with a velvety skin from which the English name arises. The seeds are embedded in orange-red pulp which is sweetly acid and edible. School-children, and adults too, cherish the taste. When in season, market-traders sometimes shift its sale from the market to school-gates!
In addition to being a thirst-quencher, the pulp is also macerated with water to make a refreshing fruit-drink. The fruit is reported to have a good molluscidal activity on the fresh water snail, “Bulinus globulus.”
Culturally, the Yoruba’s invoke the “awin” tree’s name to acquire money quickly! “Awin” producing trees are found in the Badagry Area of Lagos State.

“AWIN” { Velvet Tamarind } fruits on sale at “Iyana-Ejigbo” Market in Lagos .