1.5 million birds die during outbreak of Bird Flu this year

Managing Director, Grand Cereals Limited, Mr Layi Oyatoki, has said that 1.5 million birds, belonging to 438 farmers, were killed during the outbreak of bird flu early this year.

He said that the information from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources indicated that the outbreak was recorded in 18 states with an average of 3,200 birds per farm.

Oyatoki, who spoke with newsmen in Jos, said that the infected birds were killed (farms depopulated) to avoid the spread of the disease.

He stated that many farmers were put out of business as their means of livelihood was destroyed as a result of the outbreak.
According to him, Grand Cereals had initiated an insurance scheme to insure farms against the dreaded disease to cushion the effect of the disease whenever it occurs.

He explained that the insurance would encourage both old and new farmers to continue with the poultry business with the assurance that they have something to fall back on in the event of an outbreak.

“The insurance is absolutely free for farmers, who have up to 500 birds. The company would pay the premium on their behalf provided they are using the Grand Cereals’ feed (vital feed) consistently. Our intention is to cover any farmer using vital feed; we don’t have a ceiling for the number of farmers that we intend to cover.

“The Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC) is covering the cost of raising a bird from pullet to lay at the cost N1,450 per bird, and the company is paying the premium of four percent of the amount. When there is an incident, Grand Cereals would be pursuing the insurance company to pay the claim to the farmer.
“It is easier for the company to pursue the claim on behalf of the farmers than them doing it themselves; the claim settlement would be prompt. We want to tell farmers that we are a company that cares. We are not just traders, we are manufacturers and we believe that, as feed manufacturer, if there are no birds then we will not be in business.”

He pointed out that any farmer that uses the company’s feed wherever he or she is residing in Nigeria is qualified to benefit from the scheme, explaining that though bird-flu appears to be receding, it was not the first time the country would experience the outbreak of the disease.

“In 2006 there was an outbreak of bird flu in Nigeria and in 2007 it was stamped out and people taught it would never happen again. For this kind of disease you don’t know when it will happen and therefore it is better for you to be prepared all the times,” he stressed.

He advised poultry farmers, who have up to 500 birds, to pick up the insurance forms, fill and submit, and avoid a situation whereby they would be taken unawares.

He stated that the company is also engaged in educating famers on how to maintain good bio-security on their farms, to avoid the outbreak of diseases.
Branch Manager of NAIC in Jos, Zira said that though some believe that insurance companies are out to live off their customers, NAIC is different.

Zira stated that NAIC had compensated all farmers that met the requisite conditions, pointing out that they have the records for interested persons to peruse.

According to him, the insurance against bird flu was for a period of one year with additional six months renewal, and as such the set of birds must have completed their life circle.

“We are straight forward and tell the farmers exactly what they need to do including the bio-security measures that they need to put in place. After the farmer fills the form, we inspect the farm and give the farmer a record book to keep proper records. The farmer needs to take samples of the dead birds to veterinary lab for a post mortem test, to ascertain the cause of death and obtain a certificate,” he explained.