Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS), has appealed to the Federal Government to exempt herdsmen from the lockdown order to allow them to move around in order not to affect the feeding of livestock.
President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered total lockdown of Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states to curtail the spread of Coronavirus ravaging the country.
But NIAS’ president, Professor Israel Adu and the registrar, Professor Eaustace iyayi, in a statement said the country would lose over N16 trillion as over 200 birds would die if they are not exempted.
“We also call on the government to exempt operators in the livestock industry from the restriction in movement. The poultry industry for example with about 200 million birds and a total value of over N16trillion cannot be allowed to collapse.
“Also related to it are the feed industry and hatcheries on which the poultry subsector depends. Personnel working in the livestock sector should, upon proper identification, be allowed movement across state borders and within the state.
“We pledge our total support for and ready collaboration with the government in the effort to overcome this common, unseen but deadly enemy that threatens our very existence,” the statement said.
While expressing worry over the spread of COVID-19, they hailed the government for the efforts made so far in halting the spread of the virus and promised to assist in anyway possible.
“We commend President Muhammadu Buhari, federal, state governments and other relevant agencies for the response and the mobilization of resources, both human and material to stem the tide so far. We thank government for the measures taken to prevent further spread of the virus,” they said.
“We note that measures like shutting down offices, markets, worship centres, event centres, cinemas, restaurants and state borders, which are although painful but will help stop the spread of the virus.
“As professional animal scientists and animal husbandry officers, we have placed our members on standby nationwide to be called upon for voluntary services in time of need to save the livestock industry during a complete national lockdown and in states where these measures are currently being enforced.
“Realising that livestock producers and operators in ancillary services, which are important to the livestock value chains will be affected as in all situations of disaster, we will collaborate with government to offer our expertise to ameliorate the hardship these operators will face.
“Our community animal husbandry officers have been alerted to offer services to operators in the rural areas and remote communities where such services will be required.
“In order to cushion the effect the pandemic will have on livestock producers arising from the lockdown, we call on the government to adopt the model of off-taking the products (such as eggs, milk, meat, whose production cannot be stopped) from the farmers and distributing same to the people palliative measure for the period of the pandemic. Our zonal offices in the geopolitical zones are ready to swing into action if so considered and directed,” they added.