Bird flu claims 3.5 million birds in 26 states, FCT- FG

Bird flu claims 3.5 million birds in 26 states, FCT- FG
... Summons State agric commissioners

ABUJA- THE Federal Government yesterday, disclosed that bird flu has claimed 3.5 million birds in 26 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, so far.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, made the disclosure in his address of welcome during a consultative meeting with commissioners of Agriculture/Livestock, state directors of veterinary services and major stakeholders in the poultry industry in Abuja.
Ogbeh who described the situation as threat to the poultry industry and said losses in the industry unacceptable as he personally feels the pain of affected farmers.
He said: “Our meeting today is necessary in order to restore the poultry industry to its past glory as a major source of livelihood of our people, diversify the economy and avert food security crisis and possible spill over to humans.
“You may recall that the first outbreak of bird flu in Nigeria was reported in 2006. The outbreak spanned to 2008 but was controlled and eradicated through concerted efforts facilitated by the availability of resources through a World Bank sponsored project and the support of other development partners, particularly Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, United States International Development, USAID, European Union, EU, and donor agencies.
“Almost a decade later precisely in December 2014, the disease reoccurred in a commercial poultry farm and a Live Bird Market, LBM, in Kano and Lagos States respectively.
“The current status of the disease in the country is quite alarming, it has now affected 26 States and the FCT with over 3.5 million birds culled so far. Recently, a new strain of the Bird Flu Virus (H5N8) was reported in Kano. The new strain is believed to be very pathogenic and more devastating to poultry species and therefore, it may further add to the burden of the strain (H5N1) that is currently circulating in the country.”
He further stated that the transboundary nature of the disease has made neighbouring countries like Benin Republic proposing ban on poultry exports from Nigeria, which may lead to egg glut in the country.
The Minister also acknowledged inability to act promptly to be ahead of the disease and complete payment of compensation to affected poultry farmers, which many have lost their source of income, workers laid off, indebtedness to banks, and frustration.
However, he appealed to farmers over the delayed payment of compensation, and promised that as soon as government makes fund available all poultry farmers receive their compensation.
He also urged state governors to be committed in paying their 25 per cent of compensation to farmers, and also to provide veterinarians with needed logistics to combat the disease in their states for more inspection and monitoring of poultry farms.
Meanwhile, a poultry farmer from Bauchi State, Abdulrahaman Raji, urged the government to create an avenue for more insurance companies to come into the agricultural sector instead of having National Agricultural Insurance Corporation, NAIC, in order to create competition in terms of claims payment and competition.
Raji said farmers are not aware of NAIC’s presence in their states, therefore suggested that the corporation should intensify sensitisation and awareness creation among farmers, which they could approach it in order to avoid losses resulting from possible damages in the fut


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