How Swine Fever Ravaged Pig Farms in Ebonyi
About 400 pigs have been killed by the deadly African Swine Fever disease in Ebonyi state.
Chief Austin Edeze, one of the piggery farmers in the state said he has personally lost over 250 pigs to the virus. He said that he loses 10, 15 pigs daily and that all the pigs in his farms have been wiped out by the Swine Fever.
He said: “I am the first victim of this deadly infestation. My farm was about the first to be affected by this disease when on the 30th of April we began to notice unusual behaviour of our pigs and quickly called on the veterinary doctor in charge of pigs. “He quickly called on the state Veterinary Directorate and the team arrived at my farm and took samples of the carcass of the dead pigs and by then we started losing the pigs at an average of 10,15 in a day. Within six days, we lost 120 pigs.
“The samples they took to Jos took days and within the days we were expecting the results, more were dying and it is a viral disease that you cannot just administer any drugs and it stops. It comes when it comes and it clears the farms, it doesn’t stop anywhere.
“While we were still awaiting results, the second time the Director in the state veterinary services came along with a team from Abuja, a disease surveillance team. “They also came and did their own best, fumigated the farm, did the little they could do, added some antibiotics in the water we were given the pigs, gave some other technical advice and then left, the pigs were still dying.
“Sometimes we lost 20 in a day. And so, at the end of the day, we had lost 250 pigs, in fact, all the pigs in the farm.” He explained.
Another farmer, Mrs Josephine Igwe, who joined the lucrative business newly with 12 pigs said she has lost all of them, that when she noticed the conditions of her pigs, she relocated them to farms owned by her colleague in the business and they started dying and killed all of them.
She lamented that her colleagues own numbering over 30 have been wiped out by the virus and that the man has demanded her to pay for the damages for bringing her infected pigs to his own farms which led to the deaths of his own pigs that were healthy before she brought her pigs to the farms. She called on the government to come to her aid, adding that she has a passion for the business and will still continue in it if assisted.
She added: “I have pig farms at Azuebonyi in Izzi Local Government Area. The disease started in my farms by making the pigs be very weak. They refused to eat, if I put food for them, they will not eat. When I noticed this, I had to call the veterinary doctor to come and check the pigs.
“The man went and bought antibiotics, vitamins and irons and injected the pigs. After injecting the pigs, the thing continued and three died. On the second day, four died.
“Then, I had to relocate the pigs to another place because I didn’t know what was going on. I had to rent an apartment from one man that is also into piggery. I rented three apartments and paid for them. I had to immediately relocate the pigs to those apartments. Immediately I relocated them, four died.
“The worst part of it is that the thing has cleared all my pigs. It has started affecting the man that I rented apartments to save my own pigs which have all died. The man is very angry with me and has vowed that I will pay for the damages I have caused him and I don’t what to do. “I have lost everything and if there is anything government can do for me, it will be good.
“I lost 12 pigs and I just started. The man’s piglets are 20 while the growers are three and the ones that are breastfeeding are three while the one that is pregnant is one and 30 of his pigs all died and I feel so bad about it. I wish the government can encourage me because I have a passion for it and I still have the intention to continue on the piggery farm but if there is no intervention, I will just forget about it.”
The Ebonyi Farmers Association (EFA) has banned the sale of pigs in the state and also banned the visitation of piggery farms by people to prevent the further spread of the virus.
The Chairman of the association, Chief Mike Udenwe, said the measures became necessary to avoid further spread of the virus and exposing the public to health dangers.
Udenwe called on Governor Dave Umahi, the state Ministry of Agriculture, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Agricultural Organisation to immediately come to the farmers’ aid to halt further spread of the disease.
He warned against consumption of pig killed by the virus and urged farmers to immediately bury pigs that were killed by the African swine fever.
In his words, “It is important to note that the population of domestic pigs in Ebonyi State is estimated at 50,000 with an estimated value of N8 billion. It is also estimated that the direct and indirect employment of skilled and unskilled workforce in Ebonyi State pig value-chain is about 5,000 workers, and the consumption of pork contributes about 30 per cent protein to the food security formulae of the state.
“It is unfortunate that in April 2021, Green Tech Integrated farm Limited in Izzi Local Government Areas of Ebonyi State and other farms within that cluster reported unusual deaths of their pigs to the Ebonyi State Veterinary Department, Ebonyi State Ministry of Agriculture of which they promptly took the blood samples of the dead pigs to Plateau State for clinical investigation and the result come out positive for African swine fever.”
“We have lost 311 pigs valued at about N10.5million. The African swine fever has no cure, it has no vaccination or any drug for now but my advice to farmers is to maintain biosecurity.
“When we started early, we do invite our friends to come and see how our pigs look like. It looked like a zoo where every Tom, Dick and Harry went to see the pigs and the traders and the veterinary doctors equally are the carriers of African swine fever.
“We have made a broadcast to stop sales of pigs for now so those pig farmers will not come to buy pigs from your farms because they carry the same vehicle, the same shoe, the same cloth, the same material they use to go to an affected farm to other farms. So, for now, no piggery farm visitation and if you are having a problem on your farm, try to curtail it.
“The Pig Farmers Association of Nigeria, Ebonyi State chapter, therefore, wishes to use this medium to appeal to both registered and unregistered pig farmers in the state to meticulously observe the required bio-security protocol in their farms to avoid further spread of this deadly disease. The Chairman explained.