African swine fever kills 300,000 pigs, farmers lose billions

* 99 Percent of pig pens affected at Oke-Aro ─Farm President

* Losses upset source of livelihood of about 3,000 farmers

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

An outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in West Africa’s largest pig farm cooperative located in Ogun State, South-West Nigeria, has been confirmed.

The highly contagious haemorrhagic viral disease was reported to have been detected in February 2020, according to the affected farmers in the country.

Swine fever has been described as “a very infectious and often fatal viral disease of pigs marked by fever, weakness, lesions, loss of appetite, and diarrhea.”

Some 300,000 pigs have been killed, Mr. Ayo Omirin, a farmer, said in chat with the BBC.

Report further indicates that the most affected farm provides a source of livelihood to some 3,000 farmers, who were said to have lost billions of Naira to the ASF outbreak.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), despite that it is harmless to humans, the viral disease can kill pigs within a few days.

Mr. Adewale Oluwalana, President of Oke-Aro Farm, a cooperative settlement, in Ogun State, said that it had been 12 years since the last case of African swine fever hit the animal husbandry in the area.

It was further learnt that the virus could be passed on by a direct contact with infected pigs and wild boars, through infected animal feed and on clothing as well as farm equipment.

Pig rearing is one of the main routes out of poverty for many people in the country, and as such this outbreak threatens the livelihoods of thousands of families, stated the report.

The outbreak, which has hit the Oke Aro farm, a cooperative settlement managed by the Lagos State Government (LASG), is regarded as the biggest pig farm in the West African sub-region.

Omirin stated that at least 99% of the pig pens have been affected.

The farm is a key supplier of pig products, but it struggles to meet the demands of more than 50 million consumers in the region, according to the report.

“We have lost four farmers as a result of shock, two of them slumped and died on the farm,” he disclosed.

Meanwhile, Mr. Jide Lawal, Spokesman of the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, has said that a sensitisation exercise is underway to advise farmers on how to protect the surviving livestock.

Lawal stressed that the state government has distributed food aid to the affected farmers besides sending a team to fumigate farms in the South-West region.

At least six million pigs were culled after the virus hit Asian countries in 2019, report said.

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