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FG explains N13 billion intervention fund for pest control

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The Federal Government has explained that the controversial emergency release of the N13billion intervention fund for pest control was to, among others, control trans-boundary pests such as quelea birds, grasshoppers/locusts in 12 frontline states, and tsetse flies nationwide. 

Part of the fund would also go into the control of trans-boundary animal diseases through vaccination, other disease control measures, and rehabilitation of abattoir or slaughterhouses nationwide. 

Many farmer groups have criticized the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for allotting a whopping N13 Billion to fight pests despite daunting challenges facing the sector. 

But a document provided to The Guardian by the Director, Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services, Dr Olaniran Alabi, gave a breakdown of the expenditure. 

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He explained that the Federal Executive Council had approved an intervention fund of N13. 9billion, of which N2.8billion is for the procurement of flight hours, assorted pesticides and other ancillary tools for the aerial and ground control of quelea birds in 12 frontline states, and control of tsetse fly infestation in 24 states. 

He added that the sum of N9.6billion is for the control of trans-boundary animal and zoonotic diseases including foot and mouth diseases, contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, peste des petits ruminant, anthrax swine fever, and for the eradication of drug-mediated rabies through mass vaccination of dogs. 

Also, about N1.4billion is for the rehabilitation and upgrading of abattoirs or slaughterhouses. Alabi insisted that insinuations that the Ministry has engaged in extra-budgetary spending for the project is far from true, as the N13billion was deducted from the Federal Government revenue allocation. 

Justifying the release of the lump sum, he said the Ministry had been inundated with reports of outbreaks of trans-boundary pests from frontline states and tsetse fly infestation nationwide, hence the need for federal government’s intervention to avert the destruction of agricultural crops and livestock production. 

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He said: “These Trans boundary pests constitute major threats to agricultural production and food security in the 12 frontline states. These include Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Jigawa, Katsina, Kano, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi; and tsetse fly infestation in Kaduna, Edo, Delta, Rivers, Ebonyi, Ogun, Ogun, Oyo, Bauch, Gombe, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Osun, Plateau, Kogi, Ondo, Enugu, Imo, Niger, Lagos, Benue, Yobe, Akwa-Ibom, Adamawa and Taraba states. 

Alabi added that following the outbreak of quelea birds in Pakistan, and other animal diseases across Nigeria, the devastation has worsened over the years due to paucity of funds for the National Veterinary Service to undertake routine surveillance and vaccination programmes. 

He further said there have been reports of human deaths especially children in the rural areas due to rabies and the transmission of anthrax, bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis, and typhoid to humans, noting that it can only be controlled and eradicated through vaccination and increased awareness. 

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