James Emejo in Abuja
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has taken steps empower epidemiological officers with competencies for management and containment of the African Swine Fever (ASF) in the country.
The outbreak of ASF in February had claimed about 70 000 pigs worth N20 billion in Aro Oke, one of the largest pig settlements in Africa situated on the borders of Lagos and Ogun States, according to the Federal Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services (FDVPCS).
The FAO Representative in Nigeria and ECOWAS, Fred Kafeero, said:’ Many operators became apprehensive, as the disease continued to spread to other states in the country, threatening livelihoods supported in the value chain.
Speaking at a workshop on ‘Strengthening Global Coordination of Animal Health Emergencies of International Concerns’ project, in Jos, Plateau State, which was organised by FAO in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and funded USAID, he added that, “Unlike other Transboundary Animal Diseases (TAD), ASF has no known vaccine or cure, its continued spread in Nigeria has socio-economic and food security consequences if uncontrolled.”
Kafeero said the capacities of epidemiological officers from at-risk-states, because of their large pig population- need to be enhanced to ensure that the disease is contained and effectively managed to prevent the continued loss of livelihoods.
The Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) of the Federation, Dr. Olaniran Alabi said measures were taken by the government through the FDVPCS to mitigate the spread adding however that poor perception of the disease, low awareness and compliance to biosecurity measures by operators in the value chain had continued to enhance prevent the spread.
He said: “The most effective measure for its prevention and control remains proper and strict adherence to hygienic practices, commonly known as biosecurity measures along the pig production, transportation, marketing and processing value chain”.
The workshop sought to ensure that the value chain operators attained skills and knowledge on good emergency practices, good agricultural practices, proper biosecurity practices, collaboration with other value chain operators, participatory disease reporting, risk communication, cost benefits of proper implementation of biosecurity measures, alternative compensation scheme and ownership of implementation of biosecurity measures.