Director General of Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Onallo Akpa, has said poultry farmers across the country lost over N10billion as a result of the outbreak of bird flu or Avian Influenza since January 8, 2015.
At a media parley in Abuja on Monday, Akpa lamented that poultry farmers lost over 1.7million birds in the affected 21 States and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
He also lamented that many poultry farmers have been rendered jobless as a result of the outbreak, adding that many homes have broken up due to the ugly phenomenon.
He chided the Federal Government’s compensation scheme to the affected farmers, noting that it was grossly inadequate considering the total compensation claims was N1.1billion which Federal Government has begun to pay to farmers.
He explained that the economic value of one egg laying bird is between N7000 to N10, 000, explaining that one egg laying bird produces eggs for about 70weeks.
The Director General of PAN blamed the government for not doing enough to contain the spread of the disease since its outbreak.
According to him, the Federal Government has failed to provide active surveillance across the country, as over 6000 surveillance agents across the country have not been mobilised since the outbreak of the disease.
He further decried a situation where the government has failed to set minimum operating standards for poultry farmers, adding that the government has equally failed to enforce compliance to bio-security measures by poultry farmers.
While explaining the importance of the sector to the economy, Akpa said poultry sub-sector contributes over 25percent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as the entire livestock sector contributes 44 per cent to the GDP.
To this end, he called on the government to earmark contingency fund to fight the disease as well as put precautionary measures in place to forestall further spread of the disease.
He also underscored the need for the Federal Government to convene a meeting of National Council on Agriculture which would bring together the officials of the three tiers of government as well as the critical stakeholders in the sector to find a lasting solution to the epidemic.
It would be recalled that Federal Government last week announced that it had paid a total of N643million as compensation to 246 poultry farmers across the country whose farms were affected by bird flu or Avian Influenza in the recent outbreak of the disease.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sonny Echono, who announced this at the poultry industry stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja, had said from henceforth that payment of compensation would no longer be done by the Federal government alone, adding that the States and Local Governments must be involved.
He also revealed that the payment of compensation to farmers would be suspended forthwith until the affected poultry farmers have complied with bio-security measures put in place by the Ministry.
He expressed worry that of recent, the Avian Influenza has been newly discovered in Abia, Enugu, Rivers, Oyo, Ogun, and Lagos States in addition to Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
According to him: “Although the initial strategies put in place succeeded and resulted in non-reporting of outbreaks nationwide for about eight weeks[May-June], the disease thereafter has continued to spread mainly in the southern states and the latest outbreaks reported between July-September, 2015 in Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Enugu, Abia, Rivers and FCT, Abuja.
“These new outbreaks have been attributed to non-compliance to bio-security in farms, limited awareness creation on the disease among the farmers, disregard to public policy on citing of poultry farms and other enforcement protocols which are expected to be implemented by the State Veterinary Services.”
However, Akpa disagreed vehemently that poultry farmers have not complied with bio-security measures introduced by government.
Chibuzor Emejor – Daily independent