NIGERIA – The highly pathogenic Avian Influenza has wreaked havoc in Nigeria with cases of rampant out-breaks reported in Kano State, registering a loss of over N500 million (US$1.3m) worth of poultry.

According to the Kano State branch of the Poultry Farmers Association of Nigeria, 223,695 chicken have been confirmed affected and depopulated, noting that each of the chicken costs not less than N1,800, and the amount of the loss is over N402 million (US$1.05m).

The Chairman of the association, Mr. Umar Kibiya Usman, highlighted that there are thousands of cases that are yet to be confirmed, stressing that the amount of loss could be over N500 million (US$1.3m).

“We, therefore, appeal to the state government to be up and doing to mitigate the outbreak of this disease. We know that the government is doing its best, but we appeal for more.

“The government should further enlighten poultry farmers on how to protect their birds from being affected by this disease. Fumigation and disinfection should be sustained at the live-bird markets and other places,” Umar said.

The outbreak has not just been reported in Kano state as according to a report by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), human infections cases have been registered in Kano, Plateau, Bauchi, Gombe, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger States.

“We, therefore, appeal to the state government to be up and doing to mitigate the outbreak of this disease. We know that the government is doing its best, but we appeal for more.”

Kano State Poultry Farmers Association Chairman – Mr. Umar Kibiya Usman

Avian Influenza are strains of the influenza virus that primarily infect birds, but can also infect humans.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Director General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said, “A total of 83 human samples were received and 64 (87.7 per cent) samples were tested. Of the tested samples, seven (10.9 per cent) were positive for Flu A, six 85.7 per cent were subtype A/H5 while one 14.3 per cent was unsub-typable.”

Dr Ihekweazu stated that all contacts were farmers, farm workers, bird handlers and traders and that sensitisation was carried out by the national and state RRT and biosecurity measures were extensively discussed for the benefit of the farmers and communities.

Nigeria attains perfection in local rice processing

Meanwhile, the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) has affirmed that the quality of Nigeria’s locally processed rice has attained perfection levels.

This was revealed by RIFAN’s National Deputy Chairman, Mr Segun Atho who highlighted that Nigerian processed rice could stand at par with its foreign counterparts, owing to the attainment of quality in processing, de-stoning and polishing, attributed to the use of modern rice processing equipment.

He further indicated that the government has made huge amounts of investments in the sector, especially in the establishment of rice mills, such as the recently launched 32,000-ton rice polishing company in Lagos state, availing ready market for farmer’s produce.

According to Atho, farmers may not be able to access the factory individually but as an association, they can aggregate the harvests from where the government up-takes for processing, offering reliable market.

The improvement in quality of the rice is a step forward in the country’s target of becoming self-sufficiency and tapping into the export market.

“We currently have the capacity to export our locally-grown and processed rice. We are working hand-in-hand with exporters registered by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council and most of them have registered with us to export Nigerian rice.

“About four weeks ago, we visited the Republic of Benin to meet with the Stallion Rice president to begin the export of Nigerian rice so as to discourage foreign rice imports,” said Atho.

The private sector has also joined in the enhancement of country’s rice value chain by not only investing in rice milling but also setting up out-growers programs in partnership with smallholder farmers.

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