By Bukola Adewumi
Abuja, Nov. 11, 2020 The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) is empowering epidemiologists with competencies for management and containment of the African Swine Fever (ASF) in Nigeria.
David Tsokar, Communications Specialist FAO Nigeria, who made this known on Wednesday in a statement in Abuja, said that Operators- including farmers, traders and transporters, in the pig value chain were being trained on bio-security measures.
According to him, the training is a collaboration between FAO and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, adding that the epidemiologists and operators were from 20 States and the Federal Capital Territory.
He added that they were empowered on how to manage epizootic disease outbreak that was reported in Nigeria in February.
Tsokar recalled that there was a reported outbreak of ASF in February in Aro Oke one of the largest pig settlements in Africa situated on the borders of Lagos and Ogun states.
According to official reports from the Federal Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services (FDVPCS), about 70,000 pigs died within three months following the outbreak.
“In monetary terms, it was estimated that the owners lost more than N20 billion. Many Operators became apprehensive, as the disease continued to spread to other states in the country, threatening livelihoods supported in the value chain.“
The FAO Representative in Nigeria and ECOWAS, Fred Kafeero, said that unlike other Trans boundary Animal Diseases (TAD), ASF has no known vaccine or cure.
He noted that its continued spread in Nigeria has socio-economic and food security consequences if uncontrolled.
“Value chain operators, especially the most vulnerable actors must therefore embrace good bio-security measures.
“Similarly, the capacities of epidemiological officers from at – risk – states because of their large pig population, need to be enhanced to ensure the disease is contained and effectively managed to prevent the continued loss of livelihoods,” he said.
Speaking at the opening of the training, the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) of the Federation, Dr Olaniran Alabi, said measures were taken by the government through the FDVPCS to mitigate the ASF spread.
“The most effective measure for its prevention and control remains proper and strict adherence to hygienic practices, commonly known as bio security measures along the pig production, transportation, marketing and processing value chain.
“By the end of the capacity building exercise, the value chain operators will have attained skills and knowledge on good emergency practices, good agricultural practices and proper bio security practices,’’ he said.
He said that other practices are participatory disease reporting, risk communication, cost benefits of proper implementation of bio security measures, alternative compensation scheme and ownership of implementation of bio security measures.
The training is funded through USAID ‘Strengthening Global Coordination of Animal Health Emergencies of International Concerns’ project.
The trainings and field studies are being conducted in two batches at the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Jos, Plateau State.