Thousands of pigs have been killed and scores of pig farms shut down in Ogun State following an outbreak of African swine fever.
The deadly disease has reportedly ravaged pig pens in some parts of the state, especially Ijebu North East, Ijebu North, Ijebu-Ode and Ikenne local government areas, resulting in devastating losses for pig farmers.
Some of the affected farmers, who spoke in Atan-Ijebu under the aegis of Ijebu North East Pig Farmers Association, said the epidemic had crippled their means of livelihood.
President of the association, Samuel Ogunsanwo, disclosed that no fewer than 20 farmers in the area have lost several millions of naira while some others have been hospitalised as a result of the swine fever.
He said: “If you get to this farm three weeks ago, it was lively with the sound of 1,300 pigs but today the pig pens are silent after all of the animals were wiped off following the outbreak of African swine fever.
“This farm is just one example of how we have been hit by the devastating disease. Swine fever has swept through Atan, the headquarters of Ijebu North East, one of the largest local governments with pig farmers.
“Some of us have been left devastated, we have lost millions of naira to the disease between June and July, this year. This is the first time we are witnessing it in our area, it has been in Ijebu North, in Lagos State and some other adjourning locations in our area.”
Also speaking, the owner of Sopetie Farms, Oluwaseun Mustapha, said the farmers were doing their best to forestall outbreak of environmental or health hazards.
“What we do is that once it happens, we isolate the affected ones and when they die we bury them in the pit provided for that purpose. We don’t allow humans to eat them. We have more than 11 pits that we have dug where we dispose off the dead animals to avoid any environmental or health hazards,” he said.
The farmers, however, appealed to the state government to come to their aid by providing grants and loans to enable them to return to business as well as stimulate the nation’s economy through job creation.
But reacting, the state’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Samson Odedina, said the government was already aware of the outbreak and had stepped up advocacy to enlighten farmers on measures to prevent futher spread of the disease.
Odedina, who said there is no immediate plan for compensation yet, said veterinary officers in the various zones of the state have been visiting affected farms.