The Federal Government has ordered that any distributor or meat merchant caught transporting meat in contravention of the modern meat haulage protocols after May 29, 2023, would have his or her carcasses seized.
The Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Mahmood Abubakar, issued this warning during the National Stakeholders Workshop on Meat Hygiene and the Distribution of Refrigerated Meat Vans to Butchers and Meat Sellers Association in Abuja.
The workshop was organised to address the issues concerning meat haulage in Nigeria, a challenge that some see as playing a role in the spread of diseases. The exercise puts the safety of foods consumed in the country at the top of its priority list.
The flagging off, which is a nationwide exercise, will see the Federal Government distribute refrigerated meat vans to butchers and the Meat Sellers’ Association in Nigeria—an exercise that would help promote healthy meat preservation, consumption, and a modernised meat haulage system in the country.
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The exercise also highlights the enormous amount of money spent acquiring foreign exchange, which limits Nigeria’s full participation in the trade of most agricultural commodities outside the country’s borders.
Abubakar revealed that meat haulage was the act of transporting meat from one location to another, either within the abattoir premises or between the abattoirs in Nigeria. He complained about the non-conformity to global best practises when it came to the safety of transporters, carcasses, and consumers.
He pointed out that “the practise was undesirable, especially where carcasses had to be transported on wheel barrows, open vans, and pick-up vans, among others, thereby exposing the meat to high levels of contamination and having its quality compromised.”
He added that the ministry, in collaboration with financial institutions and private investors, expected that each state of the Federation would start with at least five refrigerated meat vans, including the one that was donated free from the Federal Government through the Ministry.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ernest Umakhihe, represented by the Director, Veterinary & Pest Control Services, Maimuna Habib, said meat hygiene was an important aspect of food safety that should not be handled with kid gloves, noting that it was in recognition of the perishable nature of meat and meat offal that necessitated the need to improve on the operation of meat processing.
Umakhihe pointed out that, apart from the need to sanitise and bring the meat haulage system up to international standards, the operation had the potential to create sustainable jobs for youths in Nigeria, adding that it was worthy of note that a few states and investors had already keyed into the roadmap that guaranteed delivery of safe and qualitative meat to consumers.
He, however, noted that the Ministry had contributed to the drafting of the National Food Safety and Quality Bill that had passed third reading at the National Assembly.
In his remarks, the National President of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Baba Ngelzarma, commended the Hon. Minister for the laudable initiative and called for an urgent need to train butchers and the Meat Sellers Association.