African Veterinary Association, AVA, has charged African governments to support livestock farming and animal rearing to attract the youth and the educated, for socio-economic development.
The group gave this charge during its 6th congress themed: “Towards Economic Diversification And Sustainable Development in Africa” hosted by Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA) in Enugu recently. African Veterinary Association spread across 54 countries in the continent and about 200, 000 Veterinarians is led by Dr. Faouzi Kechrid,Tunisian and assisted by Dr Gani Enahoro, Nigeria.
Arising from different papers presented at the occasion by delegates across the continent, the group stressed that the renewed calls for a return to agriculture by African countries should not mean a descent to the ancient agriculture that was not technology driven, nor the following of cattle and sheep through bushes destroying crop farms, but should be for an improved productivity through a more accessible veterinary services, better nutrition and modern husbandry.
“Livestock farming or animal rearing must be supported by African governments to attract the youth and educated people. In Nigeria alone, the odd figures of 12-15 million cattle population at a median market price of N40, 000, could translate to well over N600billion industry, all things being equal.
The poultry industry that is better organized has more resources and is at present a potential foreign exchange earner for our country that begs to depart from a mono product oil based economy. The vice President, Dr Gani Enahoro also stated: “The population of registered Veterinary doctors in Nigeria is about 8, 000, which leaves a yawning gap from the veterinary work force, that is required to meet the huge demand of rendering veterinary services across the states.
Ironically, despite this situation, the states are not even employing Veterinarians to match their public health relevance in certifying the wholesomeness of meat in the scarcely available modern abattoirs in our states. Veterinarians are challenged with other responsibilities in private practice, universities, NAFDAC, Army, Police, Civil Defense and Pharmaceutical industries. Former vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who was a special guest hailed the group for its contribution towards finding lasting solution to the socio-economic development of African countries.
Delivering a key-note address, the former Vice President stated that beyond some technical veterinary matters, the doctors cared about Africa and their various countries. “It is indeed commendable that you are getting involved in these wider socio-economic development issues which provide the context, within which your own professional practices, your own professional contributions take place.
I think that, by choosing this theme, you are making the point that the economic development of Africa is too serious a matter to be left in the hands of economists and development experts or political leaders alone,” Abubakar said.