The federal government can only compensate farmers on two conditions: firstly; those who have 3000 birds and below and secondly, those who have put in place adequate biosecurity.
Even if a farmer meets the first criteria but is not certified to have put biosecurity in place in the farm, such a farmer will not be compensated.
Considering the second criteria, many farmers were not qualifying for compensation. This has made many of them choose the option of selling off the birds quickly to reduce losses once an outbreak is recorded on their farms.
“Even if you meet the conditions, it might take you more than one year to get compensated and what you get per bird is nothing compared to selling off the bird quickly at give-away prices,” Mr Bala Yakubu, a poultry farmer who once had compensation issue in Zamfara State, told Daily Trust.
Another condition many farmers find difficult to accept is the federal government’s position that farmers should buy insurance policies for their farms, as many farmers have problem with that.
When it comes to insurance policies, many farmers do not trust insurance companies. “It is easier for them to collect your money, but when it comes to compensation, certain rules or conditions are brought up which make claims difficult or impossible,” a farmer who wouldn’t want his name mentioned because he works with the government, said.
Dr Maimuna Habib, the Director, Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services (DVPCS) Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said many states were affected by the disease, adding that the ministry is fighting the disease using biosecurity.
“You know in avian influenza, there is no vaccination, we have to use biosecurity. Some of these farmers are not doing the right thing. We advise them to insure their animals,” she said.
Daily Trust asked the director to explain the current state of compensation and the issues around it. Dr. Habib said: “For government, compensation is what all farmers believe in and compensation cannot be done if you have more than 3,000 birds. And again, we have laid some conditions for compensation: you have to have proper biosecurity in place and your birds most be insured with an insurance company. And we encourage people to insure with the Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC).”
Speaking on the farmers’ unwillingness to report the disease she said: “That is the problem we have. We at the federal level develop policies for them. The states and local governments must have a form of follow up with these farmers to ensure that they are doing the right thing. How do they do it? Most of them use quacks in their farms. They have to get proper veterinary services in their farms for the birds, but it is difficult for us to get them to do that.”
Avian Influenza is a disease that is carried by wild migrating birds that spread to poultry. The disease is not caused by a single virus, but rather a collection of viruses. The Low pathogenicity Avian Influenza (LPAI) occurs naturally in wild birds. It causes mild or zero symptoms and is not as dangerous as HPAI. The High-pathogenicity Avian Influenza spreads more rapidly and results in a higher death rate. It is often fatal in chickens and turkeys.
While Avian Influenza does not easily transfer from animals to humans, HPAI can spread by direct or indirect contact with nasal, oral, or faecal secretions from infected poultry. Poultry farmers should be cautious when handling infected birds. The consequences of HPAI transmission to humans are severe because of the potential for the virus to mutate into a form that could spread from human to human (