The livestock sub-sector contributes 5.8 per cent of National Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provides livelihoods to over 30 per cent of the Nigerian rural population, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development has disclosed.
The minister who made this disclosure at the commissioning of City Laboratory, an ultra-modern veterinary diagnostic centre in Ibadan, Oyo State on Wednesday, noted that for livestock business in Nigeria to remain profitable and sustainable in the face of growing population and demand for protein, it is important that animal diseases and epidemics are well controlled and eradicated.
Ogbeh who was represented by Dr. Olaniran Alabi, Director and Chief Veterinary Officer, Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, stated that the commissioning of the diagnostic centre justifies the collaborative efforts of Federal Government and the private sector in providing essential tools needed for sustainable socio-economic growth in livestock development in Nigeria.
He lauded CHI Farms and Zoetis for the establishment of the ultra-modern veterinary diagnostic centre, but however, noted that the livestock sub- sector has been limited by a number of factors, especially the preponderance of a wide range of animal diseases such as Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP), Peste des Petits Ruminant (PPR), African Swine Fever (ASF), etc.
He further stressed that for Nigeria to ensure a profitable livestock business for farmers, proper, efficient and accurate animal disease diagnosis need to be carried out.
“It is important to note that animal disease diagnosis is an important component of veterinary services and that Nigeria has quite a number of laboratories that carry out animal disease diagnosis. However, these laboratories operate below their optimal level thereby leading to huge gap in veterinary diagnosis services.”
“The establishment and equipping of Chi Farms’ ultra-modern veterinary diagnostic laboratory being commissioned today in Ibadan could not have come at a better time than now that Nigeria is looking forward to diversification of its economy through agricultural and other non-oil sectors.”
“Let me use this opportunity to appreciate Chi Farms and Zoetis-ALPHA for this laudable initiative and call on other foreign organizations to partner with Nigeria on animal health and veterinary services” he added.
Also speaking at the event, the National President, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Mr. Ezekiel Ibrahim said the poultry industry in Nigeria has been confronted with many challenges especially losses as a result of diseases outbreak, which according to him has frustrated and crippled some farmers’ investments, leaving them dejected and hopeless.
He acknowledged the efforts of National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI) in domesticating animal disease diagnosis but pointed out that emerging challenges and changing trend in clinical manifestation of diseases calls for a more aggressive intervention.
According to him, “Managing poultry disease is highly sensitive to the time the index case is identified in order to avoid, control and prevent production losses. This is where the quality of veterinary diagnostic laboratory intervention becomes a centre point in management decision on disease control. The industry requires a diagnostic laboratory facility that is reliable in sensitivity and specificity. This is the future of addressing challenges of disease in the poultry industry.
“The poultry industry at this time requires availability, reliability, accessibility and affordability of diagnostic services for growth.”
He commended CHI Farms and Zoetis for the precise intervention through the establishment of City Laboratory while adding that the project has come at the right time to support the growth of the poultry industry and redirect the attention of the sub-sector to the importance of quality laboratory service in disease control.
In his opening remark, the Managing Director of Chi Farms Limited, Mr. Martin Middernacht, said the motive behind the establishment of City Laboratory in partnership with Zoetis was to assist livestock farmers raise healthy and profitable animals as well as conduct research and come up with vaccines based on tests conducted.
Also, the Regional Director Zoetis, Sub-Sahara Africa Mr. Gabriel Varga, stated that the partnership of his organization with Chi Farms Limited on the project was basically to assist poultry farmers in Nigeria realize their full potential.
Varga further stated that similar laboratories will be opened in different parts of the country in subsequent phases of the A.L.P.H.A project.