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Nigeria Losing Out of $75 Billion Leather Industry Due to “Ponmo” Consumption, Expert Says




Ponmo BellaNaija

Olufemi Aluko, of the Faculty of Clinical Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, says Nigeria is losing out in the pack of countries competing for the $75 billion global leather industry because of “ponmo” (animal hide/skin) consumption.

Aluko blamed the situation on the country’s neglect of the leather products industry in favour of oil production and consumption of its hides and skin as ponmo.

He cited a global industry report as confirming the situation, urging the nation’s policy drivers to refocus on the sector as it holds great potential for export earning and employment.

“As we strive to diversify the nation’s economy I advise the Federal Government to create sound, supportive and transparent policies that will revive leather goods industries in Nigeria.”

Aluko further stated, “Nigerian leather goods businesses must develop procedures to ensure developed markets where products are compliant with environmental and social responsibility requirements as well as international standards.’’

The lecturer explained that the formal leather goods industry had declined almost to extinction which could only be revived by transparent business policies.

According to him, the formal leather goods sector must be revived particularly to supply the domestic, regional and international markets.

He said that considerable hard work would be required by the public and private sectors in coordination for the sector to make considerable further progress but this is necessary as we refocus our economy and use of our abundant hides and skins for leather products rather than for consumption as ponmo.

The lecturer added that economic growth and employment benefits from the sector were potentially considerable.
“Nigeria is, globally, perhaps the most important exporter of light leather. The leather tanning sector has made remarkable progress in recent years as it has progressed from export of raw and wet blue leather to finished leather.’’

In spite of the fact that Ponmo, a delicacy made from hides and skin has been popularised mostly by the people of the South West, it has no nutritional value, Yemisi Olowookere, a Nutritionist at Garki Hospital General Hospital, Abuja, said.

“Its continous consumption has continue to generate concerns on its adverse effect on the tanning and leather industry in the country,’’ Olowookere said .

According to her, Ponmo, is basically cow skin that has been processed to look similar to beef which is sold in the markets and an important ingredient in the preparation of several stews in various cultures.

“Most Nigerians love Ponmo so much that some believe a good day meal is incomplete without It; Ponmo is a regular sight at parties and several public outings, served in different forms. It would be quite shocking for some people to know that Ponmo contains little or next to nothing in terms of nutritional value,’’ Olowookere said.

She said the classification of Ponmo was based on their mode of preparation and colour, adding that some are white, cream and brown. Olowookere raised concerns over some of the health status of some of the animals killed which must have been ill and undergoing treatments.

He noted that rearers sometimes ignore such situation and will go ahead to kill them, leaving the buyers vulnerable to chemicals in the animal skin.

“Some of the animals because of the ailments, they are usually given injection with contains chemicals.People don’t allow these chemicals to complete its cycle and be removed from the body; they sometimes go ahead to kill these animals. So, if you consume the ponmo, the tendency is that you are consuming the chemicals directly because the skin part of the animal retains most of the harmful substances,’’ Olowokere said.

She warned Nigerians to be careful of consuming ponmo as the cow skins are usually not prepared in the best conditions.

Olowookere said before the ponmo was brought to the market, a lot of different unhygienic substances such as trash, wood, charcoal, rubber tyres and so on, are thrown into the furnace to sustain the blazing heat.

She, however advised that it was best to eat fish rather than ponmo.

Yakub Matanmi, Chairman, Ponmo Dealers Association, Mushin Market said that the consumption of cow’s skin has been an age-long practice which no government could stop.

He said that the survival of countless people such as the butcher, cleaner and seller depends on the product.

“I don’t think the government can just stop the consumption of ponmo, so many things will go wrong. It is from this business the sellers, cleaners and butchers get to make a living and send our children to school, if you say we should start selling it as leather, we may not make as much profit. But if eventually the product is banned totally by the government, there is really nothing we can do about it, but that will definitely be the end of our business,” he said.

Matanmi said that the volume of ponmo consumed daily across the country could not be calculated, as more low-income earners and also wealthy people use it.

Another seller in Oyingbo market, who declined to give his identity said that the demand for the product was higher than the usual beef, because it was cheaper and used for more purposes.

He said that the product was popular among all tribes, thus a ban on it would affect a lot of people, including the consumers.

Former Minister of Agriculture, Akinwunmi Adesina, last year said that the Federal government, may have concluded plans to discourage the consumption of the popular delicacy.

Adesina told stakeholders at a seminar that the primary consumption of livestock products may need to be reduced because of the need to promote the use of hides and skin for leather production.

For Jacob Akwubilo, head of the Leather Products Sellers Association, Lagos Mainland, a ban on the product could make leather products cheaper.

Akwubilo urged the government to look into the availability of other sources for leather production, like snakes and fish skins to augment for the shortfall caused by the direct consumption of cow skin.

While a NEPC report says the export of leather products like bags, shoes, was 63 million dollars in 2014, government still lack statistics on the consumption of some items in the country according to Emmanuel Cobham, Director-General, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

He said there is need to get the statistics of the consumption of the product, in comparison with the current volume of leather production and exports in the country.

“The government should also consider the local market, because they are the highest stakeholders, as their survival depends on it. In an economy, decisions should not be taken on a one-sided note, but where the major economic policy or decision may affect or bite the more. However, there may be a need to simply discourage the consumption to a level, to earn some foreign exchange for the nation through more leather exports,’’ Cobham said

Director-General of Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Dominick Ajibo, noted that revival of the tannery and leather industries would go a long way to boost the foreign exchange earnings of the country.

Ajibo noted that it would create jobs for most youths presently roaming the streets and neighbourhoods aimlessly.

He also noted that the quality of leather they get from abroad is not as good as the quality of Nigerian –made leather which is not synthetic as the foreign products from China.

He, however, said that the federal government was reviewing the EEG granted these tanneries and expressed hope that from the review, the new policy will give them access to Nigerian leather.

“We expect that at the end of the review, the revised policy from the review will encourage the local marketing of locally made leather goods so that we can produce leather works like shoes, bags and belts that have good quality,’’ he said.

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The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) was established by the Federal Government of Nigeria in May 1976 to gather and distribute news on Nigeria and cover events of interest to Nigeria at the international level for the benefit of the Nigerian Media and the Public.


  1. Lois

    August 17, 2015 at 9:24 am

    For we ponmo consumers, we are at a limbo o. Caught between age long sumptuous consumption of Ponmo and development of our leather industry. Got to go back to our drawing board.

  2. Taiwo

    August 17, 2015 at 9:32 am

    If na play, make una stop am!!!!! #Ponmomatters, #leavePonmobe

  3. adelegirl

    August 17, 2015 at 9:41 am

    yadayadayadaya! Leave PONMO alone! Find your leather elsewhere please! I mean, this argument against ponmo consumption from so-called “consumption experts” is so tired and played out! Are you telling me we cannot produce enough cattle to cater to ponmo consumption as well as leather production? How will stopping ponmo consumption improve the leather industry? What structures are in place to help those who already manage to produce fine leather goods in Nigeria even with ponmo being regularly consumed?
    Please “Consumption Experts” gerrarehere with this nonsense talk!

  4. Scared Homosapien

    August 17, 2015 at 9:42 am

    Please, they should just die this matter. We are not giving up Ponmo for leather. Thanks.
    Signed by a Ponmo lover.

    • Manny

      August 17, 2015 at 4:35 pm

      There is a saying – Iya lo n je mo like ponmo
      I can’t directly translate but it means something like nobody really likes ponmo but they say they love it to mask the fact that that’s what they can afford.
      But of course YOU love ponmo *wink*
      Just messing with you 🙂

  5. leftbrained

    August 17, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Hypocrites,was it not the same ponmo that you grew up with eating? Now you are forming poshness because you are highly intelligent than your forefathers that ate it abi?. Incase you dont know there are very low earners that ponmo come to their rescue because they cant afford fishes. Whether its nutritious or not, e nor concern you and we are not complaining.

    How will the prepartion of efo riro(vegetable soup), isiewu, ogbono and the likes delicaciesy make sense in the absence of the sub-leadership of ponmo. Let the govt open up an agricultural farms to produce their skins and hides and leave my ponmo alone.

    • Manny

      August 17, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      Leftbrained … what an apt name

  6. Anon2

    August 17, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Bia, this people should take there time oh! Nothing should prevent me from eating my pomo oh! As a matter of fact I just prepared one lavish pot of soup that included pomo. So far no one has dies from eating it. I am sure these people have hidden motives! Abeg they should look elsewhere..

  7. york

    August 17, 2015 at 10:15 am

    make I no chop ponmo roundabout again

  8. bruno

    August 17, 2015 at 10:31 am

    who do people eat ponmo. it doesn’t contain any nutrients. ponmo is dead skin.

    • Scared Homosapien

      August 17, 2015 at 10:51 am

      And the flesh is not dead meat?

  9. Nkem

    August 17, 2015 at 11:02 am

    You people have succeeded. Or almost. Because now anytime I eat ponmo, I almost throw up thinking am eating shoe or leather for something.

  10. That Nigerian girl

    August 17, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Yorubas and ponmo= Bread and butter

    • JustAGirl

      August 17, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      I am not Yoruba, and i eat ponmo like its running out of

  11. Ready

    August 17, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Again? Please #FreePonmo.

    I get it. I understand it has no nutritional value. I understand that the leather industry is suffering. Buuuutt…it’s ponmo. Now, it’s not that I love it; however, have you tried it when it’s done right? E.g. at Ghana High in Onikan where it’s so soft and curls over and hides its marinated soup goodness? Have you tasted it in ofada stew sauce?

    I think they can go ahead and launch a campaign against it, but free those who choose to keep eating, please. No sanctions or such.

  12. iwalewa

    August 17, 2015 at 11:34 am

    story for the Gods. my grandmum has been eating ponmo since she was born and shes still alive,hale and hearty. what will my efo riro look like without ponmo.

  13. cleo

    August 17, 2015 at 11:50 am

    Truth be told ponmo eating has not deterred leather production. In my opinion the cow hide has not been purchased for leather production massively hence it is cheap enough to go round alot of Nigerians belly. The structure and facilities needed to convert hide to leather are not in place so what are they talking about?. Let the facilities be established and the production of leather start and see if the price of ponmo does not become more expensive than grass-cutter meat.
    I am looking on the bright side. imagine mass production of leather in Nigeria, dollar will crash by N 80.
    Come to think of it bags and luggages, shoes, chairs, car seats, belts, accessories etc, all world consumed products come from leather. Leather will surely make a difference.

  14. ba

    August 17, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    And where kind faculty member Sir, is the analysis of the value of Ponmo sales ? That must be considerably high too given its daily sales across the country; bring actual Ponmo sales figures versus intended sales figures of the intended leather industry… then let’s talk. Ponmo will bring the 20%, let’s see how the almighty leather bring the remaining 80% , then we can make a compromise. Ponmo lives on ! But seriously, we still need to get our leather industry and potential world-class leather goods brands up and running.

  15. Ada

    August 17, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Ponmo has no nutrional value so why are we undoing ourselves? We are satisfying our stomach’s desires and going to buy imported leather goods from Italy and brazil! At a higher cost! Make una think am ooooooo

  16. EvaB

    August 17, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Sometimes I wonder how our people think. Why does ponmo consumption have to be banned for the leather industry to thrive. The logical way to do it would be to increase production, so that both avenues (consumption and leather) can be well supplied. Thus will even lead to bigger profits as Nigeria will be making more money from both. Any normal business person would see this as an opportunity. Not an avenue to destroy an already existing market to create a new one.

  17. Psychic

    August 17, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    i didn’t even read the long epistle,i just came here to drop my comment,Please help us tell them to leave ponmo alone for us o,abi na wa oo,what we mekunus are using to make ourself happy,ponmo kika(intertwined ponmo),ponmo white..kai #saibuhari u better don’t let me reach market and they say ponmo is scarce o,hen hen….have u people even finish dealing with boko haram matter…ponmo sha! they should not try it o #okbye

  18. lala

    August 17, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    … So apparently the reason the Nigerian leather industry has failed to develop is because of our pomo consumption?
    …… And the rest of the failed industries in Nigeria nko? Ordinary oil market, no long winded story – oil for money and still that market has failed to realise the benefits to Nigeria. And agriculture nko? what’s the story there?? ………. Wo – you pipu will not kill somebody so PLEZ ………GERRARAHERE!

  19. Manny

    August 17, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    Ponmo lovers, please google “ponmo embalming fluid”
    That’s right …. the dangers of an unregulated industry … the use of embalming fluid to process ponmo.

    [Recently, health officials in Sapele, Delta State, apprehended some ponmo sellers for injecting chemicals used in the embalmment of corpses into the hide to make it look attractive to buyers. According to the report, the traders who confessed to the dastardly act disclosed that after injecting the substance, they would then soak the cowhide in water, so that it can become bloated and fleshy.]

    • Dayo

      August 18, 2015 at 5:28 am

      Same thing they are doing to your frozen chicken and turkey,my dear. They are also embalmed to keep them fresh,for the long transportation to you! If you want to dig really deep about preservation processes of all these foods,my dear,you would go on hunger strike,because most of these foods will be rendered un- consumable!!! Not only in Nigeria,but everywhere in the world! Unless of course you are producing your own food,from scratch

    • Manny

      August 18, 2015 at 11:10 pm

      Farmer’s market. Whole foods. Costco organic section. No my dear I don’t do embalmed meat.

    • Dayo

      August 21, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      I do organic too,my dear. But that is not ruling out the fact that not everybody has access to or the money to buy organic food, so majority still consume these embalmed food,because that is what they have access to or can afford to buy. This is the reality of the world.


    August 17, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Another crazy man talk. someone tell this “yeye” people to mind their own business and leave “PONMO” loving people alone “JARE”. Word.

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