Following a recent discovery by the Federal Government that monetary claims usually paid to poultry farm owners has made many farmers to relax in complying with stipulated biosecurity measures, the government has said it will henceforth stop the payment of the compensation package to owners of 491 poultry farms in the country.
Mr. Sonny Echono, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, who spoke during a meeting with stakeholders in the poultry industry at the headquarters of the ministry in Abuja, stated that the complacency of the farmers had resulted in the resurgence of Avian Influenza, popularly known as bird flu.
Echono stressed that the disease had, so far, spread to 21 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
Avian Influenza is a virus disease of poultry that has negative impact on both the economy and public health.
According to the Permanent Secretary, Nigeria stands the risk of being declared an Avian Influenza endemic nation, if the non-compliance with biosecurity measures in the poultry farms persisted.
He said, “The resurgence of Avian Influenza as of today has spread to 85 local government areas in 21 states and the FCT, affecting 491 farms and resulting in the depopulation of 1,597,191 birds, and requiring compensation claims of N1.119bn to the affected poultry farmers.
“Since the first confirmed outbreak on the January 5, 2015 in a commercial farm in Kano and a live bird market in Lagos, we have put in place proactive strategies aimed at rapidly containing the spread of the poultry disease. They include depopulation and decontamination of affected farms/birds, movement restriction of poultry and poultry products, enforcement of biosecurity in farms and payment of compensation.
“Although these initial strategies put in place succeeded and resulted in non-reporting of outbreaks nationwide for about eight weeks (May and June), the disease thereafter has continued to spread to mainly the southern states and the latest outbreaks were reported between July and September, 2015 in Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Enugu, Abia, Rivers and the FCT.”
Echono said the new outbreaks were attributed to non-compliance with biosecurity in the farms, limited awareness creation on the disease among poultry farmers, disregard for public policy on siting of poultry farms and other enforcement protocols, which were expected to be implemented by the state veterinary services.
Speaking on control measures undertaken by the Federal Government, the permanent secretary said it had procured containment inputs for depopulation and decontamination, and had distributed the facilities to all states and the FCT.
He said N380m had been paid to 138 farmers as compensation, while additional N263m had been verified by the technical consultants appointed by the World Bank for the payment of 103 farmers.
He stated that N643m was the total fund committed and it was for 246 farmers, adding that N476m was the outstanding fund for the payment of the remaining 250 farmers.
The Federal Government urged the states to strictly adhere to laid down principles on how they should handle issues relating to the spread of the disease and its control.
“We have also noted with concern that poultry associations in states have not been up and doing with regard to assisting the states officials in the efforts aimed at curtailing the spread of the disease through adequate sensitisation and awareness creation,” Echono said.
By Patrick Aigbokhan