Poultry farmers have advised the Federal Government against a downward review of the compensation for birds affected by Avian Influenza (bird flu).
“If government really wants to assist farmers, it should leave the compensation at N1,450 per bird as initially pronounced by the Minister of Agriculture,’’ Chief Musa Gyang, National Vice President, North Central, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) said in Jos.
Gyang, recalled in an interview that “when the Avian Influenza broke out, the Minister of Agriculture made a pronouncement that farmers affected would be paid a compensation of N1450 per bird.
“The minister also directed that payment should be done within 72 hours
“The first confirmed cases were paid and 39 farmers/farms across the country were compensated.
“Thereafter, the situation aggravated and affected 353 farmers/farms with a population of 1,205,774.
“The affected farms were then de-populated compensation processes began, but while we were waiting for the payments, we were told that the figure had been reviewed to N750 per bird,’’ he explained.
The official, who said that farmers had been patient and confident even when the 72-hour compensation period was no longer adhered to, and urged government to strive to be fair by not changing the figure.
“As poultry farmers, we are very sad because we have gone through a lot of trouble in the poultry industry beginning from last year.
“Because of the insurgency in some parts of the country, farmers were not moving their poultry products where they were needed and the cost of production was hardly realized.
“While we were grappling with the challenge, the avian influenza struck, but the government pronouncement restored our confidence and made us optimistic that the losses would be reduced,’’ he said.
Gyang said that the news of the downward review had been devastating and would “practically knock out so many farmers from the business’’.
“Some farmers collected loans to establish the farms; some sold all they had to start up the farms, we don’t know how they are going to survive and that would affect poultry industry negatively.
“We urge the Federal Government to have a rethink because many farms have been thrown out of business forcing them to sack so many workers as a result of
Avian Influenza,’’ he stated.
The official, who spoke on the direct effect on his own business, said that 15,600 birds were depopulated from his farm which had been the source of his livelihood for “the past 37 years’’.
He, however urged farmers to keep waiting on the government, and expressed confidence that the pronouncement in respect of compensation was not a mere political gimmick as was being feared.