By Alex Uangbaoje, Kaduna
As part of activities to commemorate ‘World Veterinary Day’, the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA), Kaduna State Chapter at weekend, held a Media Roundtable to interact with journalists on the contributions veterinarians national development.
Speaking at the meeting, President of the Veterinary Council of Nigeria, Professor Garba Sharabutu, noted that veterinary medicine is the only profession that touches almost every aspect of human life, hence, the need for the country to give priority and encourage more people to join the profession.
According to him, though, Nigeria have about 10,000 Veterinarians, yet it is not enough to meet the veterinary needs of the nation, because the country needs at least 20,000 veterinarians to effectively affect both human and livestock by 2020.
He added that, veterinarians are responsible for the prevention and control of animal disease outbreaks, by ensuring that there is sufficient and safe high-quality food throughout the country and also contributing to the inspection of the whole food chain.
Professor Sharabutu, said if extension services of veterinarians are given recognition by the government, the issues of herders/farmers crisis and cattle rustling would be effectively checked, because only veterinarians are trained with the capacity to determine types of cattle breeds and where they are coming from.
He stated that the neglect of traditional institutions is another the could have help in curbing disaster posed by livestock farming, saying, “this people are expert to the extend that if you sell your crops, they know whether you have stolen from somebody, because they know your capacity.
“The know how many heaps you have, they know how many animals you have, those ones are gone, so why don’t we decide to say let us go back to those days, so that any new person that is coming into the community they will know.”
World Veterinary Day is celebrated every last week of April and the theme for this year’s celebration is “Role of the Veterinary Profession in Sustainable Development to go improve Livelihoods, Food Security and Safety”.
In his presentation, Managing Partner Ambuvets Konsult Limited, Dr. Shehu Shamsudeen, explained that careful study of the Sustainable Development Goals revealed that at least 7 of the goals are directly or indirectly
dependent on inputs from the veterinary profession.
He said, goal 1 (no poverty) and goal 8 (decent work and economic growth) are particularly important as far as the role of the veterinary profession in sustainable development and promotion of livelihood is concern.
“The contribution of the profession to human livelihood is best appreciated following a proper understanding of the relationship between livestock ownership, household and national
economies especially in developing worlds.
“Livestock ownership is very important to household economy in Nigeria
where most rural chickens and small ruminants are managed by women.
“To the poor farmers livestock are assets (capital and source of income), provides animal tractions and fertilizers, livestock are a means of insurance in times of financial crisis substantial increase in livestock productivity and improved resilience is an opportunity to lift people out of poverty (SDG goal 1).
“At a macroeconomic level, livestock contribute about 40% of the agricultural GDP and is one of the fastest growing sectors in developing countries. Hence
a proper utilization of the economic benefits of livestock markets can help to sustain overall economic growth.” He added.
Delivering his opening address, Kaduna State Chairman of NVMA, Dr. Yila Umar, explained that, “in many global rural areas, the inhabitants are greatly dependent on animals for their livelihood, keeping the soil fertile, and providing power for ploughing and transport, which in many cases provide
family’s primary source of income. Ensuring this function, veterinarians are also vital for the development of regional and national economies.”
He added that because of the growing world population and the rise in demand for animal protein, the environment’s deterioration and decrease of
natural resources and the emergence of zoonotic diseases, veterinarians are playing a crucial role in securing the development of more sustainable, responsible and efficient livestock production systems to ensure sufficient resources for future generations.
“By implementing a One Health Approach, veterinarians are working
together with other health professionals to improve and develop new
production systems that are also respectful of animal welfare and the
environment. By doing so, veterinarians are contributing to achievement
of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to reduce poverty
and ensure zero hunger, good health and economic growth.” Dr. Yila noted.