Thousands of pigs have died from the recent outbreak of the African swine fever (ASF) in Oke-Aro pig farming estate in Matogun, Lagos state.
The disease has claimed over 145,000 hogs since its outbreak in Oke- Aro – West Africa’s largest pig farm estate, causing farmers to lose billions of naira.
Confirming the outbreak, Omotayo Adekoya, secretary of the Oke-Aro farm said that farmers in the estate have lost over 145,000 pigs due to the ASF outbreak.
She said that the last outbreak of ASF in the farm was recorded in 10 years ago.
Adekoya stated that the Lagos state government in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has come to the aid of farmers in the farming estate by fumigating the farm estate several times and also providing millets to farmers as palliative.
African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious virus that affects both domestic and wild pigs, causing diarrhoea, vomiting, coughing, haemorrhages on the skin, and severe mental distress.
It is an airborne disease that can be transmitted directly between animals or through infected meat and feeds.
“Since the outbreak in our pig farm estate, it has been devastating. I have lost 500 pigs to the disease,” said a farmer in the estate who simply gave his name as Bernard.
“The Lagos state government has come to our aid and they have fumigated the farming estate several times but this has not helped in tackling the virus spread,” he said.
He noted that without the complete evacuation of faeces and cleaning of the environment the disease will still remain on the farming estate as it can stay up 72 days in the faeces of pigs.
Pig farming contributes largely to the country’s food production and security as well as income generation for thousands of farmers.
Pork is the choice meat for weddings, funerals, and other major social occasions, and pigs are essential to a respectable dowry especially in some regions in the country.
However, the threat of farmers losing their pigs with no recompense is a big challenge to keepers as many of them struggle to survive with income earned from their investments.
“This is my only source of income and the loss I have incurred so far is alarming,” said another farmer in the estate who gave his name as Okechukwu.
He urged the government to support farmers in ensuring that their means of livelihood does not go down the drain.
Speaking to BusinessDay, Adekayode Sonibare, director, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta says that the virus is not treatable and that there is no known vaccine for it yet.
Sonibare noted that it can only be controlled by stamping out, that is, fumigate the entire farm and shut it down for six months and then restock.
“We need to fumigate and shut down the farm for six months to control the virus and prevent frequent recurrence of the outbreak,” he said.
“If we fail to do so, the pigs that will survive will become the source of the next outbreak,” he added.
He says the government must also provide support for all the farmers in the estate during the six-month shutdown as the farm remains their only means livelihood which they depend for survival.
He called for the adoption of proper quarantine measures of new stock after the virus to prevent future frequent outbreaks.