From Tony Osauzo, Benin
The Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, has decried the present 5 per cent contribution of the livestock sub-sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.
The minister announced that the Federal Government would soon roll out plans to scale up the contribution of the livestock sub-sector to the GDP.
The minister, who was represented by Dr Maimuna Habib, spoke at the 57th annual congress of the Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA), holding in Benin, the Edo State capital, noting that the Veterinarians have a role to play in the Federal Government’s plan to increase livestock sub-sector contribution to GDP.
‘The sector is faced with limiting factors among which is the burden of diseases such as (Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP).
‘Peste Des Petits Ruminant (PPR), Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Avian Influenza, African Swine Fever) among others that are mitigating against livestock production and productivity.
‘I am aware that veterinarians both in public and private sectors are contributing their quota to guarantee optimal health of animals for improved production and productivity for a profitable business in the livestock sub-sector.
‘To realise sufficiency in the contribution of the livestock sub-sector to the Nigerian economy, we need to institutionalise effectively the control of major animal diseases in the country.
‘The Federal Executive Council has graciously approved an intervention fund to address the existing gaps in the animal health care services delivery in the country.
‘Very soon the ministry is going to roll out activities in the control of transboundary diseases in the country,’ the minister said.
In his welcome address, the NVMA President, Dr Ibrahim Shehu, challenged Veterinarians to deploy their professional skills to put an end to the importation of livestock and milk into the country.
He lamented the huge amount the nation spends on the importation of these produce, noting that thousands of Nigerians have been denied job opportunities as a result of these activities.
‘It is paradoxical that despite the country’s tremendous potentials in livestock, especially cattle, Nigeria still imports over 2 metric tonnes of milk worth over billions of dollars annually,’ Shehu said.
He disclosed that of the two metric tonnes of fish required in Nigeria annually, over one metric tonne is imported despite Nigeria’s large rivers, vast territorial ocean waters and diverse aquacultural practices.
‘These are challenges, but they also provide opportunities for Veterinarians to deploy their professional skills to ameliorate them for the socio-economic development of the country
‘Nigeria and Nigerians beckon on us to ensure, among others, that there is sufficient meat, milk, eggs, and seafood that are free of pathogens or antibiotics residues; that there are job opportunities in producing livestock, livestock-based products, poultry and fish, both for domestic consumption and export.
‘We have the capacity and sense of duty to face these challenges effectively,’ the NVMA President stated.
In his speech, Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki promised to implement the resolutions that would be reached at the 57th annual congress of the NVMA.
Represented by his deputy, Philip Shaibu, Governor Obaseki said implementing the resolutions is to strengthen the veterinary department of the state’s health sector.
He also said that the State is working at providing more jobs opportunities for the people, especially youths, by proffering solutions to the challenges of electricity.
‘With the issue of power solved, the youths have the ideas to grow themselves,’ he said.
Speaking on the theme “The Veterinarian and Global Health Security”, the guest speaker, Prof Dennis Agbonlahor, said research has shown that 75 per cent of zoonotic diseases are from animals, adding that 65 per cent of diseases in humans were from animals.
‘This is a pointer to the fact that the Veterinarians are expected to participate in global health initiatives to advance global health security,’ he said.
The chairman on the occasion, Chief David Edebiri, called on the Federal and State Governments to pay special attention to the Veterinary Doctors.
He also called on the professionals to make their presence to be felt in society.
‘The job of a veterinarian is too important to be suppressed or relegated to the background. Their job to society is no less important than the other medical professions,’ Edebiri stressed.