The Gbagyi ethnic group in Kuje Area Council of Abuja say their traditional ways of preserving grains and other food crops are still the best.
They said these methods were not only useful for future consumption, but was also useful to preserve crops for replanting and food security.
The residents told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Gbau-Kushi, a Gbagyi community in the FCT, that in spite of the widespread belief in westernised methods, traditional food preservation inherited from their ancestors was still effective.
Solomon Joshua, a famer, said before the advent of modern preservative methods, Africans and Nigerians in particular had their own native ways of preserving food for both consumption and for replanting.
“As Gbagyi people, we have our own ways of preserving crops after harvesting them, we have mud houses built, which is called Dobu.
“The Dobu is a mud silos constructed with available local materials that are eco-friendly and cheap to build.
“We use it to preserve crops, like guinea corn, maize, rice, millets and other grains for selling or replanting in the next planting season.
“But very surprising, when the foreign methods came up, we did not abandon our native methods, which are still functional up till now, ” Mr Joshua explained.
According to him, Dobu is built with no door, but has a small window with which one can go in and out.
“It can contain about 13 to 15 bags of grain seeds and stay for a long period of time, up to four years, before evacuation for planting or whatsoever one may want to use them for,’’ he said.
Mr Joshua said that Dobu had the natural capacity to prevent termites from attacking crops and grains inside it.
Anthony John, another farmer, said using the mud silos to preserve food was a means of economic empowerment as people come from other places to buy crops from them.
He said this served as a means of generating income for them.
“It is so unfortunate that we have totally forgotten where we come from in terms of our native way of life.
“For those of us who cannot acquire foreign methods of preserving food, we are still comfortable with what we saw our ancestors use and they are still useful to us,” he said.
To avoid economic waste, Mr John advised Nigerians and the locals in particular to embrace the old methods of farming including preservation, which according to him were still functional.
“Here in our locality, we don’t use things like insecticide or any harmful chemical to preserve our crops; it is our forefathers’ ways we use.
“Our forefathers discovered the secret, which has been helpful to us their descendants. We are yet to discover a modern way to preserve our crops without the use of chemicals.
“But for now, we are grateful to our fathers for this special inherited traditional way of preserving our food crops,” Mr John said.
Gloria Zhydaghi said Dobu was still the method members of the community used for preservation of cereals and legumes and could keep them for more than four years.
Ms Zhydaghi added that if the roof of Dobu was not faulty, nothing would affect the grains inside the hut.
“We don’t store yams inside Dobu, we preserve yams in a room built in a square shape without plastering the floor, this will make the yam stay long,” she said.
David John, a yam farmer, told NAN that the yams were checked twice before the next farming season to ensure that any new growth was sliced out.
“If you allow the yams grow at home before selling, it means you are selling bad yams to people.
“Such yams are the ones you see looking like they have different colours inside and too hard to eat.
“We preserve our yams in buildings close to our houses, so we can easily check them when necessary.
“We don’t have special chemicals for preservation, we preserve the way we learnt from our fathers,” Mr John said.
According to him, it is passed on from generation to generation.
He explained that yam preservation was easy and simple to start.
He, however, added that if one had tubers to keep or sell, the person could rent the yam house from anyone who did not have yams to preserve or sell at that time.
“Which is also another source of income for the yam house owner.”
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