The recent sensitisation workshop embarked upon by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for the South-east stakeholders on safe and responsible use of veterinary medicines, pesticides and animal feeds is both essential and quite commendable. This is because of the important role of livestock to
national food security.
In her keynote addres, at the workshop held at Fildema Hotel, Enugu, the Director General of NAFDAC, Mrs. Yetunde Oni, said the sensitisation workshop became necessary as availability of safe and wholesome food is an important component of NAFDAC’s mandate and one of the priority issues of public health concern. She noted the dangers associated with feeding poultry animals with substandard feeds and treating them with substandard drugs affects human lives adversely,
hence the need for the sensitisation workshop, warning stakeholders to abide by NAFDAC regulations. The Director-General, represented by the Director, Veterinary Medicine and Allied Products at NAFDAC, Dr. Buka Ali Usman, said
the agency is showing increasing concern on the methods and products of modern Agriculture to promote healthy living among human beings.
According to her, “In livestock production, it is a known fact that what animals are fed with have significant implication on the health of the public. Animals that are carelessly fed with unwholesome feed will not only suffer malnutrition, poor health and poor production, but will also pass the residue to man.
“In view of this, the agency has taken steps to ensure that inputs used in livestock production such as animal feeds, feed concentrates, feed additives and premixes are safe and efficacious for their intended use.
The quality must meet standard specifications and the presentations in terms of labeling must be adequate, so that the products are handled safely”.
The NAFDAC boss said even though the agency has worked on effective regulation of drugs and vaccines, most of the registered drugs and vaccines available in the markets are of good quality, but the danger is that most farmers are unmindful of the withdrawal periods as stipulated on the drugs and vaccines.
She said the awareness and sensitisation workshop would afford all stakeholders involved in the poultry and livestock farming to give quality products, enhance growth of the industry and the Nigerian
economy and improve food security.
Statistics from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) indicate that agriculture, forestry, fishing and livestock account for 18- 20% of Nigeria’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) with livestock alone
accounting for 4.5 – 5%. In the same vein, the Nigerian agricultural sector has continued to play a pivotal role in the rapid economic transformation of the nation with the impressive performance accounting for 41% of the country’s GDP, 80% of the non-oil foreign exchange earnings and over 60% of active labour force in the country.
Livestock have the characteristics of a capital investment yielding an interest in the form of milk, eggs and other valuable products. Apart from serving as a source of food for humans, animal agriculture is also
important in providing non-food materials such as hides, skin, wool and feathers which are in turn used as raw materials for manufacturing other valuable products, e.g. hides and skin for leather goods.
Manures from livestock are also used to fertilise the ground, making plants to grow healthy and strong. The restoration of these past achievements requires collective and sincere commitment of all stakeholders.
Blueprint, however, regrets that despite its invaluable contribution to the nation’s GDP, livestock production is faced with a number of constraints, which on the long run results in low productivity and
reduced profitability. Prominent among these constraints are diseases occasioned by substandard animal feeds. Animal diseases constitute a major obstacle to Nigeria’s economic development as well as posing
health risk to our human population. Problems associated with reduced livestock productivity and profitability include inadequate consumption of animal protein, poverty, unemployment, low contribution to the nation’s GDP, among others.
This situation has in no small measure prevented the effective utilisation of the huge potentials of the livestock sector.
It is in the light of the importance of livestock to the nation’s economy and citizens’ well-being that we commend NAFDAC’s gesture towards ensuring animal safety. We, however, advise the federal government to go a step further in ensuring the availability and affordability of genuine animal feeds and treatment. Scarcity and high cost of genuine feeds and drugs is primarily responsible for the recourse to the substandard feeds which could result in serious health complications for animals and humans.