now a tendency to state that vegetables produced in this country are
‘Organic’. What this means, we do not
really know. One reads occasionally in national
papers of locals stating “The vegetables we ourselves consume are grown in a
small patch where we use animal manure.
We use the ‘ausadi’ for
vegetables we produce for the vegetable markets.” Such statements have caused
panic amongst the city dwellers, and they have cause to. Laukas recently
bought sometimes increase their sizes overnight and burst in the refrigerators
where they have been stored! The
vegetable vendors however insist that vegetables are free of pesticides harmful
to human health. The authorities that
test the vegetables say otherwise. What
is the real truth?
An old fairly common phrase in Western Societies is ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’. The red and alluring apples seem to be very juicy and invite one to take a bite. But beware for it may have been sprayed with pesticides too, coated and polished with wax. Are the pesticides in extensive use to grow more food and eatables for the ever increasing human race going to be the prime cause for its destruction too?
When I started my medical service in Nepal I used to examine children in the outpatients of Bir Hospital and wondered if those ill with kidney damage were because of the use of various ayurvedic Bhasmas made with gold and even mercury. Of course mercury has been now shown to be neurotoxic and very harmful to human health and its use in dental material and even thermometers for taking temperature are now banned. However, gold as an entity has sometimes been in therapeutic use.
What is a customary sight on the banks of likely sewage contaminated ‘kholas’ of Kathmandu Valley is the washing of recently dug out spring onions, radishes and carrots from the fields. Whilst green leaved vegetables, are laced out with pesticides, the underground ‘veggies’ probably propagate intestinal worms.
What is disheartening is the sharp rise in the number of kidney failure cases. Many require dialysis for life or even kidney transplants. Many such Nepalis have worked in the Gulf. Perhaps a number of them, fortunate not to die there in work or traffic accidents, come back with kidney damage as a result of the extreme heat and very limited daily water intake in the extreme hot conditions of the Middle East. The large numbers of Nepalis with kidney damage and undergoing dialysis or running around for kidney transplants are possibly a result of this scenario. Doctors working in this area all over Nepal need to be encouraged by the Health Research Council to investigate in this field and come up with answers for the future. One wonders if the rampant use of not only pesticides but also antibiotics, anabolics plus other hormones in the vegetable, fruit, animal and fish production food chains has led to not only kidney damage and failure but also other ills such as cancer and dementia too!
Some forty years ago I led a Nepal Medical Association delegation to China. The first city we visited was Kunming, where as we went around we saw men and women in wide brimmed straw hats carrying compost presumably horse, buffalo and pig origin and ? Human, in buckets hanging on shoulder poles. So here was the basic fact – China then, with her tremendous potential was relying primarily on her people and asking each to contribute his or her mite for the formation of a new society – a new China. Of course the country with motivation, mechanisation and modernisation is a completely changed society and a leading world power now.
We profess to be great and developing nation at times and then go on to state that we are progressing to be a ‘Developing Country’ soon. Is this a fact, a reality or simply a mirage? A few days later is issued a statement saying that we don’t want to reach that stage for it will deprive us of much aid! At times we shout out loud that we must stand on our own feet and not depend on others. There is the trend in Nepal to say ‘Yes’ at one time and ‘No’ at others, again and again so that listeners around are always perplexed. Are we developing as a Nation with a ‘Split Personality’?
What is required for the progress of our country is the development of agriculture with stress on cash crops. Tea, coffee, mushrooms and varieties of various fruits such as oranges, apples, mangoes, strawberries and even kiwi fruit are being grown in Nepal. We should be self sufficient in as many food stuffs that we can produce or manufacture ourselves. Our citizens enticed back from the Gulf countries can strive in the homeland so that we can export ‘organically’ grown vegetables in Nepal to many of the other countries of the world. Another necessity is to encourage kater or jackfruit and koiralo trees.
The late Stephen Hawking in his theory Panspermia, which has yet to be confirmed, postulated that life began with molecules which became dust or DNA from space billions of years ago. This is Hawking’s postulation of start of life on earth. Statements in this line are the words that Christian priests utter as they perform the final rites of a member of their congregation – “From dust we came, to dust we shall return”. In similar fashion our Hindu priests, after the final rites of Hindus direct that the last remnant ashes of the individual just cremated are swept into the river along which banks the recently deceased was cremated. In societies where cremation is done electrically, the ashes are given in urns and many disperse it by pouring it into the river or scattering it to the winds. Here too it is back to earth!