Bird Flu: FG Yet to Compensate Farmers

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Crusoe Osagie
The federal government has been admonished to fulfill its pledge to compensate poultry farmers who lost their stock of birds during the avian influenza (bird flu) outbreaks of 2015 and 2016 in the country.

Making the call yesterday, President of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN),Dr. Ayoola Oduntan, said as at November 2016, out of a total 3,475,706 birds confiscated by the association under the supervision of Ministry of Agriculture, farmers had only been compensated for 1,050,904 birds leaving an outstanding of 2, 424,802 birds.

According to Oduntan, who spoke at the opening of the 2016 Poultry Show in Abeokuta, Ogun State, “Immediately after the outbreak, the Minister of Agriculture promised that compensation would be paid for all dead and confiscated birds, but this promise has not been fulfill.

“We are urging the government to follow international best practice, and fulfill its pledge. We are not being done a favour. Government instructed us to slaughter our birds for the greater good of the country. We would have sold those birds while they were dying or taken them to the market and contaminated the whole country with the virus, but we chose not to do that. “Instead we called the appropriate government authorities, they came in, did the census and together we slaughtered these birds. For those famers that obeyed the law and followed international best practice, not to be compensated more than a year after the outbreak is unfair.”

Oduntan who expressed the Association’s dissatisfaction over the current budget allocation for Agriculture, said such amount cannot implement the diversification agenda of the current administration.

“Ten per cent of Nigeria’s budget must go to Agriculture. The present 2-4 per cent can never bring about the desired change we envisage, money need to be put into irrigation, procurement of modern equipment, provision for land clearing assistance to farmer.”
“Nigeria is one of the few countries where you will drive from a place like Lagos to Ibadan and all you see is bush everywhere, in other part of the world, you see plantation or farms that has different crops been planted, so things must change and we hope so.”

On his part, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh who admitted to the claim, promised that the affected farmers would soon be compensated, “The ministry is aware of the challenges confronting the poultry industry which include highly pathogenic avian influenza.”

Ogbe who was represented by Dr. Olaniran Alabi said that the recently launched a new policy, tagged; “Agricultural Promotion Policy 2016 to 2020” that will address issue of limited production and delivery of standard.

“In our plan to diversify, poultry is part of the key value chain, considering that it can have significant impact on the economy and people within a short time. We are committed to the development of subsector through the implementation of several programmes,” he explained