Continued border closure: Poultry farmers count gains



A local farmer, Mr Ashiru Shittu, on Friday said that poultry farmers were happy with the continued land border closure as it boosted their productivity.

Shittu, a member of the Poultry Association of Nigeria, told the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos that the benefits of the border closure were enormous.

“The benefits of the border closure to the poultry industry cannot be over-emphasised; it has encouraged local poultry farmers to produce more, such that sales of locally-processed poultry have improved much.

“We are really enjoying the land border closure because we now have a ready market for our produce.

“Before now, we barely had a chance in the market because smuggled imported poultry products were in tough competition with our locally-processed ones.

“Sales of local poultry produce have improved and our turnover grown. The border should be closed across all agricultural value chains.

“Our Christmas sales were a typical example. It was phenomenal, we sold nearly all our birds because of the huge demand for poultry,” the farmer told NAN.

Shittu prayed for an extension of the land border closure to the different agriculture value chains, saying it was for the benefit of the country at large.

“Even the country as a whole is benefiting from the land border closure; the government is making more money. As far as poultry and crop production are concerned, it is a very good development.

“I advise that the border closure should be extended for about five years to 10 years. China shut its borders for more than two decades but today it is a major world market leader.

“No matter the issues with the border closure, the benefits far outweigh the challenges we claim to have with it.

“If the land border closure cuts across the various agricultural value chains, all our local farmers will be up and doing.

“When there is a ready market for poultry products, the farmers will be motivated to work harder and produce more to meet the growing demand,” Shittu said.

Edited by: Oluyinka Fadare/Ijeoma Popoola


Spotlight: European countries eye cautious easing of lockdown, WHO forecasts COVID-19 deaths in Africa




BEIJING, May 8 (Xinhua) –Some European countries are preparing to gradually ease lockdown measures placed to contain the spread of COVID-19 as positive signs have been seen, while the World Health Organization (WHO) has forecast more cases and deaths in Africa if mitigation measures fail.




Western Europe has seen a decrease in daily infections in the last four weeks, Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said Thursday. “Slowly but surely, we are seeing positive signs.”

Kluge also confirmed that 32 of 43 countries across the European region, which had implemented partial or full domestic movement restrictions, were moving to carefully ease some of the measures.

France would start to ease restrictions from May 11 through “a very gradual process,” which would stretch over several weeks at least to avoid a resurgence of COVID-19, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Thursday, adding that the exit would be differentiated among regions.

Next week, about 1 million children and 130,000 teachers will return to school. Some 400,000 companies will resume business. Libraries and small museums may reopen while access to beaches could be allowed at the request of mayors.

Under the new rules, France maintains restrictions on public gatherings of over 10 people and keeps borders closed until further notice. Mask-wearing will be mandatory on public transport.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Thursday announced a plan for the second phase of re-opening in the country.

According to the plan, restaurants, retail shops and malls are allowed to reopen from May 11. Some schools, libraries and religious communities will gradually reopen from May 18.

In Britain, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Thursday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce a roadmap to ease the country’s lockdown measures.

Changes in lockdown measures will be “modest, small, incremental and very carefully monitored,” Raab said, stressing the need to maintain social distancing in the coming weeks.

Greece is also gradually returning to normalcy. After the national lockdown was eased earlier this week, more shops, restaurants, open-air cinemas and museums are scheduled to open in May and June, Greek Culture and Sports Minister Lina Mendoni said Thursday.

In Spain, nearly all 17 autonomous regions have asked the government to allow them to advance on May 11 to the second phase of the country’s four-stage plan to ease coronavirus restrictions.

The second phase will see bars allowed to open their terraces at 50 percent capacity, while social gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed and small shops permitted to open at 30 percent of capacity.

WHO Europe said that the European region, with a total of 1.6 million cases and almost 150,000 deaths, accounts for 45 percent of cases and 60 percent of fatalities worldwide.

The agency is also concerned over a worsening situation in the eastern part of the region as Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russian, Ukraine, and Tajikistan have seen increases in new cases over the past week.




The African continent is on the spot as COVID-19 cases surpass 50,000. According to the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention, caseload across Africa has reached 51,698 as of Thursday morning.

The WHO on Thursday said that between 83,000 to 190,000 people in Africa could die of COVID-19 while an additional 29 million to 44 million are likely to contract the disease if containment measures fail to work.

“While COVID-19 likely won’t spread exponentially in Africa as it has done elsewhere in the world, it likely will smolder transmission hotspots,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.

Moeti said that robust mitigation measures are key to averting widespread transmission of the disease that could overwhelm already fragile health systems in Africa.

Since the first case was reported on Feb. 14 in Egypt, the disease has so far affected 53 states except for Lesotho, the WHO African regional office noted in its latest update.

From Nigeria in the west to South Africa and Kenya in the east, COVID-19 cases are accelerating at an alarming rate as most countries engage in mass testing.

The United Nations on Thursday launched an updated COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan that requires 6.69 billion U.S. dollars to help fragile countries cope with the pandemic.

The updated plan added nine countries, including some in Africa, such as Benin, Djibouti, Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe.

Apart from the direct health impact, the global recession and the domestic measures taken to contain the virus will take a heavy toll on the poorest countries, UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock said.

The international community must be prepared for a rise in conflict, hunger, poverty and disease as economies contract and health systems are strained, said Lowcock.

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Extend border closure to 5 years, farmer urges FG



A member of the Lagos State Chapter of the Poultry Association of Nigeria told the Federal Government on Tuesday to extend the closure of land borders to a minimum of five years.

Mr Ashiru Shittu, who made the call in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos said that Nigerian farmers had everything to gain from the closure and that the Nigerian economy would be better for the action.

He argued that the closure had resulted to increased production of food locally, especially rice and poultry.

NAN recalls that the Federal Government had shut the nation’s borders last August and in November, extended the closure to Jan. 31, 2020.

“The closure of Nigerian land borders is of great advantage to farmers, especially those involved in rice and poultry farming.

“It has increased our capacity to produce home-grown poultry and rice. It makes life better for local farmers.

“I want to suggest that the land border closure should remain for a minimum of five to 10 years.

“With the closure, the Nigerian economy will grow in leaps and bounds.

“We may suffer several setbacks now because of the increase in food prices but we will come over it soon.’’

Shittu reiterated that the closure of the borders might face challenges initially but that in the long run, it would be of benefit to Nigerians.

“I can remember in the ‘80s when the then Federal Government placed a ban on maize importation. The price stepped from N12, 000 to over N150, 000.

“But since then we do not rely on imported maize again in Nigeria and the prices of maize have radically dropped over time.

“We are now able to produce enough maize for human and animal consumption and even for industrial purposes like breweries.

“So, the same thing will happen in the case of chicken and rice production if the borders remain shut to these items.’’

Shittu also expressed his optimism on local farmers meeting up the growing demand for poultry and rice in the New Year festivities.

“With the yuletide season being celebrated, there is no cause for alarm because we are capable of meeting demands for poultry and rice.

“Presently, we are meeting the demand for both rice and chicken because apart from the festive season, Nigerians consume a lot of these items. But we will cope with the demand.

“Before, imported chickens had taken over the market but now we are capable.

“Let the government sustain the border closure for more years.

“With the border closure, a lot of poultry farms are coming back on steam and improving the income of local farmer.

“We also have enough raw materials to produce poultry feeds because we have many people in the business now.

“Procuring of feeds is no longer a challenge for us,” he added.

Edited by: Abdulfatah Babatunde/Silas Nwoha
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