Pig farmers in Ogun State have called on the state government to come to their aid towards mitigating the loss incurred following the outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) which is currently ravaging the state.
The farmers under the aegis of Ijebu North East Piggery Association who spoke to journalists on the outbreak of swine fever to their farms lamented that since the outbreak of the epidemic, the farmers have lost thousands of pigs.
The President of the Association, Mr. Samuel Ogunsanwo said over twenty farmers have lost millions of naira with some hospitalised as a result of the loss.
He said, “If you get to this farm three weeks ago, it was lively with the sound of 1,300 pigs but today its pigpens are silent after all of the animals were wiped off following the outbreak of African swine fever”.
“This farm is just one example of how we have been hit by the devastating effect of Swine fever, which has swept through Atan, the headquarters of Ijebu North East, and other pig farms located in different communities across the local government.
“Some of us have been left devastated, we have lost millions of naira to the disease”, he lamented.
Mr. Ogunsanwo said in the local government alone, the pig farmers have lost several millions of Naira to Africa Swine fever, between June and July this year.
“The virus is highly deadly and there is no cure for it now, there is nothing we can do to curtail it. This is the first time we are witnessing it in our area, it has been in Ijebu North, Ijebu Ode, Ikenne local government areas of the state”.
He opined that Africa Swine Fever is a major threat to the pig industry in Nigeria and Africa at large because of the heavy losses incurred by pig farmers when it strikes.
Speaking on the financial implications on the loss, Mr. Ogunsanwo said, “we normally sell a kilogramme (kg) for N400 and we produce an average of 70kg. We also have some weighing 120kg, 180kg, etc. that died”.
Also speaking, the owner of Sopetie Farms located at Odosiwonade, Mustapha Oluwaseun, explained that “it’s just like this COVID-19. There’s nothing you can do about it. Just don’t allow any animal that has the disease come near your animals or else they will contact it and when they have it, it will tamper with their organs and when their organs collapse, they die.”
“What we do is that once it happens, we isolate the affected ones, and when they die, we bury them in the pit provided for that purpose. We don’t allow humans to eat them. We have more than 11 pits we have dug where we dispose of the dead animals to avoid any environmental or health hazard.”
The farmers appealed to the government for financial assistance in the forms of grants and loans to enable them to return to business and continue in their support to the economy through job creation and contribution to the nation’s GDP.
“We have those who are hospitalised because of this incident. Some of them invested bank loan but now the business has crumbled so where will they get money to pay back these loans?
“Owing to this, a lot of us had a heart attack and are still hospitalised while some have died. So, the government needs to help us to sustain the lives of those who are still alive by giving us grants.”
Reacting to the development, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Samson Odedina said, the responsibility to monitor and control animal diseases in Nigeria are shared by the federal and state governments.
He said the disease is not transmissible to man but causes incalculable economic losses to pig farmers.
The disease does not have a cure. Currently, the federal government and invariably the state does not pay compensation to farmers who are affected by ASF.
He said the control measures are disinfection of affected farm with virucide, maintenance of basic biosecurity measures, farmers getting livestock insurance to mitigate against the loss as well as education of farmers.
He added that the federal government had given Ogun State 400 liters of CID 20 strong disinfectants to complement the ones we have in stock.
Veterinary officers in the various zones have been visiting affected farms and we have stepped up advocacy to enlighten farmers on steps to take to prevent further spread of the disease.