Bird Flu Furry: Nigerian Poultry Farmers Lose 800,000 Birds In 18 States
WHILE the plague of Avian Influenza, also known as Bird Flu still trmains, now more of a mild temper when it started late 2014, farmers are still counting their losses. It swept more than 70,000 birds in Kano state, one of the areas first hit.
At the last count, many poultry farms in half of the 36 states of the Federation have received the morbid baptism of the influenza. In its wake, about 800,000 birds have been left dead and safely buried, Onallo Akpa, Director General of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) said.
In a nation like Nigeria, where figures, as with mathematics, scare people, leading to unreliability of information, documentation in the rural areas without farms in a proper setting, would likely not capture all losses.
Though the official figure released by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development about a month ago put the death at only 419,763 birds. The latest figure for the first week of March showed a figure that has doubled, though Onallo said effort have been stepped up to keep it from further spread.
“The Federal and State Governments at all levels are very much on top of the containment exercises and this is responsible for the outbreak not spreading to other states rather than the already affected,” he reaveals.
In light of the pains of losses by poultry farmers nationwide, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina said paying compensation to the farmers would put smile on their faces. The ministry paid out a compensation package of N100,489,350 for 69,303 birds to affected farmers in 15 local government areas in Kano State.
By this, it could be deduced that the Federal Government is paying at the rate of N1,460 per bird as compensation. On the basis of this, the Federal Government would likely spend about N1.2bn to help farmers get back to the pens.
So far, there is no reported human casualty from poultry-to-human infection. Incidentally, the second coming of Bird Flu to the country has many consumers unperturbed largely because of public education and knowing how to handle the preparation of poultry products in the kitchen. Patrons of fast food centres have not significantly shied away from placing orders for their favorite chicken drumsticks.
The DG, who was in constant touch with Dr. Ayoola Oduntan, President, PAN in the course of the inquiry referred The Guardian to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, which handled the compilation, documentation and payment of compensation to affected farmers for details of all that pertains to compensation payment to farmers at all levels.
In a statement at the compensation ceremony, the minister stressed the importance of the poultry industry as he said “Nigeria is the number one producer of egg in Africa. He expressed concern that Kano had the largest number of mortality rates in the bird flu outbreak, but said that money has already been paid into the beneficiaries’ accounts. Governor Kwankwaso, on his part, assured the minister of cooperation “so that we can see the end of this crisis as soon as possible.”
So far, according to PAN Director General, the bird flu is under control, being restricted so far to 18 state, following the team work involving FMARD, PAN and poultry stakeholders.
With this, the threat of further depopulation of the 175-million bird stock of the members of the association was stemmed.
Akpa said, “The containment actions so far embarked by all stakeholders, especially the FGN, States and the Association have been that of surveillance, depopulation and decontamination, laboratory services, biosecurity measures, farmers education series, sensitisation and advocacy as well as behavioral change, communications and public awareness.”
Kano State chairman of PAN, Aminu Adamu, said the compensation of affected farmers was a good move by the federal government.
“Not giving the compensation helps to spread the disease. For fear of losing, the owners sell their birds secretly to the birds markets,” Adamu said.
The Poultry Association of Nigeria has coped fairly well with the scourge and its attendant challenges, noting that “all poultry farmers in the country have been sensitised by ways and means of biosecurity workshops and seminars organised by the Association at the States, Zonal and Local Government levels,” Akpa said.
On their part, farmers are also very conscious of the devastating effects of the disease and they have stepped up biosecurity in their farms. To achieve this, PAN was involved in sensitisation workshops and public enlightenment campaigns, while some input suppliers in the industry distributed free disinfectants to farmers at the state level; especially in the states where the outbreaks have been reported, according to Akpa.
To avoid further outbreaks, the DG revealed poultry farmers and traders in live bird markets are being trained and sensitised on measures to adopt to mitigate further outbreaks.
In a technology-driven world, other series of seminars and public awareness for farmer- and trader-education series are being organised to keep these groups of operators updated on the latest developments in the industry.
However, Akpa said the sector is not without its challenges resulting from the flu disaster such as loss of investments, apathy to patronage of poultry and poultry products leading to unsold tonnage of poultry meat and eggs. He pointed the already high cost of production and electricity tariffs.
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