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Bird Flu: Farmers slaughter and sell off their birds

Indoors chicken farm, chicken feeding, farm for growing broiler chickens.

Farmers have decided to handle things their way in the fight against bird flu because of inadequate compensation from the government and reliable control measures.

The prices of feeds, vitamins, labour, and other costs are already on the high side so poultry farmers across the country will rather sell off their infected birds than report the disease to the government.

Whereas, in states like Kastina, Plateau, and Zamfara, farmers who are more prone to this infection and have less security have lost hope in the poultry business and the rest are less concerned with the infection.

The inability of the government to provide control measures and compensate them has forced many farmers in the state to resort to the only option of killing and selling off their birds.

This has heightened the fear of the farmers and made them lose hope in the government since the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is yet to address the farmers and the public on the current state of the control measures and compensation, since the recent outbreak of the flu many weeks ago.

However, the Kano State Chairman of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Alhaji Umar Usman Kibiya, revealed that despite the fact that the spread of the flu had reduced, there was no form of compensation to affected farmers, adding that the development had led to many farmers not reporting the outbreak on their farms.

Alhaji Umar said, “Though reports on the spread of the flu have reduced, we are made to understand that the reduction is as a result of lack of effective compensation machinery, and that has stalled the control measure put in place by the association. We have discovered that some poultry farmers have resorted to killing and selling their affected birds without reporting to the association for proper action due to the fact that even if they report no provision for compensation has been made by authorities concerned.”

A poultry farmer, Alhaji Kabiru Bello, said he sold all his birds despite the fact that he knew they were affected to minimize the losses he would incur if he allowed the birds to die or be killed by authorities that would pay him no compensation.

Reports revealed that the agriculture ministry was currently underfunded and could not do anything on the issue, stating further that the ministry was now rendered incapable as agencies under it now functioned far better as various activities are now being conducted by the anointed agencies and not the ministry.

Despite the outbreak of the flu, poultry feed has also increased in price. 25kg bag of layer mash is now selling for prices between N6,500 and N6,800; depending on the producing company.

In Katsina, poultry farmers are more concerned about running costs and insecurity than the bird flu outbreak.

A poultry farm manager in Funtua, Isah Abdullahi, said insecurity had since forced them to sell off the birds as they could not risk their lives to work in the area.

Abdullahi said, “To most of us in this zone, it is not the question of bird flu, but who can invest huge amounts of money on the outskirts of towns at the mercy of bandits. The cost of chicken feed also is scary, especially to a starter, hence the majority of us now switched to noiler chickens instead of layers or broilers as they are more resistant to infection and could be reared for both meat and egg.

“If we report the outbreak to the government, the government will kill and bury the birds without giving us any meaningful compensation; but if we sell them to hotels and barbeque spots we will raise money to cover some losses.”

A small-scale poultry farmer, Jume Sani said, “Last week I lost about 100 birds, and some of my friends doing it on small scale have also suffered the virus attack. We are really pained considering how we are using our meager resources to keep them.”

For hundreds of Borno small-scale poultry farmers, they have abandoned the business following an increasing number of deaths of birds associated with suspected Newcastle bird disease rampaging Maiduguri, the state capital.