Nigeria has 180 million birds which can meet its poultry needs, and has no need for imported poultry or poultry products, the National Veterinary Research Institute , NVRI, Vom, said.
The NVRI Executive Director, Ahmed Mohammed , made the disclosure in Vom, Plateau State, on Sunday, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria.
Mr. Mohammed said that 120 million of the birds were rural poultry in backyards, while 50 million birds were commercial poultry in formal poultry outfits.
“The commercial poultry are layers and broilers, while the backyard birds are usually for domestic consumption and small scale sales,” he explained.
He said that Nigeria did not need imported poultry because more Nigerians were investing in the industry, which had made the country self-sufficient in that sector.
“Aside the poultry, we have lots of livestock to complement our meat and protein needs.
“From our latest records, Nigeria has 22 million cattle, 40 million sheep, and 50 million goats.
“So, the ban on the importation of poultry and poultry products is in order and should be strictly enforced to encourage local production,” he said.
The NVRI boss challenged poultry producers to see the ban as an opportunity to promote self-sufficiency, more local wealth and employment.
“They can improve on their capacities by accessing the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) agricultural loans being shared to farmers by all commercial banks.
“The loans are very easy to access and the process is much easier for poultry farmers because the returns on poultry are faster,” he said.
He urged state and federal governments to encourage home-grown poultry by helping farmers to access vaccines for NDVI 2 disease.
“It (NDVI 2), is the main disease that kills rural poultry and it is preventable.
“The vaccine’s major advantage is that it does not need to be preserved in a refrigerator; it is durable and can survive any situation or weather,” he said.
He said that the diseases that kill commercial poultry were also preventable and advised farmers to get the vaccines and make sure they were well administered.
“The only disease that has no vaccine is, perhaps avian flu which can be avoided with biosafety.
“Once poultry owners maintain the right hygiene and fence off their farms against all manners of visitors, the possibility of contact is highly minimised.”
He advised commercial poultry farmers to avoid cluster farming to minimise the wide and wild spread of avian flu whenever it hit one farm.
Mr. Mohammed also advised farmers against buying young chicks from “just anywhere”, and recommended large farms in the South-West of Nigeria because they were usually very committed to the health of their birds.
The NVRI boss also advised poultry farmers o register their farms to ease access for possible assistance whenever there was a problem.
He said that potential farmers should also consult widely before embarking on that pursuit.
“Some people just retire from work and jump into poultry without bothering to know how it is done; this is very dangerous.
“It is such people that seek short cuts to reduce cost and end up bringing all manners of diseases,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed advised Nigerians against consuming poultry and poultry products smuggled into the country, stressing that such items had proved to be unhealthy and should be avoided.