By Olayinka Olawale
Lagos, Oct. 22, 2020 Farmers in the Lagos State Pig Farm, Oke-Aro, Old Site, have appealed to the Lagos State Government and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to provide grants to them to resuscitate and restock the farm.
The President of the farm, Pastor Adewale Oluwalana, made the appeal while reviewing the progress made after the outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the farm with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos.
Oluwalana said that activities had been at it lowest following the outbreak of ASF during the COVID-19 lockdown which killed over 230,000 animals in the farm in June.
He said the farmers lost all their capital and life savings during the incident and were unable to re-stock and start trading again.
He noted that some farmers lost their lives as a result of the shock and others have developed life threatening illnesses.
“We need more assistance because we lost so much animals, about 90 per cent of the animals were lost to African Swine Fever.
“Although it is a pandemic, it happens all over the world now. Ours was very devastating. We lost everything.
“We need assistance in form of grants so that the over 3,000 affected farmers can restock and start new life,” he said.
The president said the farm currently had less than one per cent of its capacity, adding it was very hard to trade with the number.
“The incident happened during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, which prevented farmers from going out to the farm.
“We know how to manage ourselves; immediately we see the sick animals, we separate them. We put the sick ones aside and kill them, then put them inside the refrigerator, so it will not affect the healthy ones.
“But because of the lockdown, we did not have access to the farm, the sick ones infected the healthy ones and that was why we had a huge loss.
“We pray COVID-19 will not come again and we pray we will not have anything that will not enable farmers to go to their farms,” he said.
“What we have in the farm now is not up to one per cent. We had over 250,000 pigs before the incident and we lost about 230,000 pigs.
“Now, what we have is so small and we need to restock in order to start all over again.”
He commended the Lagos State Government for its support so far to ameliorate the suffering of the farmers.
According to him, during the World Food Day celebration, the Lagos State Government gave chemicals and motorised machine to the farm to enable us fumigate and prepare it for a new era.
“We are thanking the government for this support and we hope we will come back to our full capacity.
“The situation is very discouraging because we don’t have many animals again, we have very few left on the farm.
“A farmer that had over 500 pigs is now left with only three, some left with four, while some even have nothing left.
“The situation is very devastating. How can someone trade on that? Can someone live on just three pigs? No.
“Some farmers have three, some have four, some have five, while others have 10. For someone that had 300 animals, how can he trade now,” he added.
Oluwalana said the next plan was to fumigate the farm to eliminate any virus or disease completely, adding that there was need for government to still come to the aid of the farmers.
“What the Lagos State Government has given us is to start the process but we still need more.
“The level of ASF now is very low and with this, we will be able to get rid of whatever remnant that is in the farm,” he said.
Oluwalana said the farm had the capacity to employ over 10,000 workers, adding that many of them had become jobless since the incident occurred.
He said about 3,000 farms are also struggling to resuscitate their businesses without government grants.
“In the farm, we have employment rate of 10,000 and about 3,000 farmers
“Since the incident, many of them have been out of job and struggling to survive.
“This is why the government needs to assist us further in the form of grants to enable us to restock so that activities will start.
“Activities here now is at it lowest because we have lost so many animals,” he said.
Naija247news reports that Oke-Aro Pig Farm is a co-operative settlement and the largest pig farm in West Africa.