Report by Dr Ezeme Udoakuchinyere Chimamanda (Enugu)
Prices of beef and mutton have soared in Enugu metropolis, due to increased cost of live cattle, goats and sheep as the aftermath of recent temporary closure of Abakpa meat market located at Nike, Enugu. The market is well known for livestock meat, specifically beef, mutton and pork. A nearby abattoir is used to slaughter mainly cattle and pigs to supply meat to the market. In mid August this year, both the market and abattoir were temporarily shut down as a result of what was believed to be high level of insecurity of both natives of Enugu communities and cattle herdsmen.
In Abakpa meat market and abattoir, Enugu, butchers and meat sellers lamented that they now expend about double of their former expenses to have meat on their tables for sale. A meat seller in the market stated emphatically that due to the rise in the cost of live cattle and goats, the selling price of beef and goat meat has risen. He also expressed concern on the drop in the number of customers and the rate of sales after the meat market shut down. Because some people cannot afford the higher cost of beef they have no option than to buy other meats such as pork, chicken, fish and even donkey (commonly called jaki) meat. He added that the pork seller next to him now make more sales. Many of the consumers that stick to beef are traditional lovers of beef, mutton or chevron, some who do not eat pork due to religious or cultural backgrounds or those who can still afford the increased price.
Unfortunately for the pork sellers who should be smiling heartily to the bank daily, pork is not always available since there is no market where pigs are kept or displayed for sale. They are reared and sold in remote villages by individual farmers. Many of the pig farms sited in remote arrears have poor accessibility which adds to the cost of transport and this becomes one of the factors that inform the selling price among others.
To verify this unfavorable story of unavailability, livestonews correspondent visited a piggery sited at Neke-uno, a remote village in the Enugu-east LGA, and the discovery was very unpleasant. According to the piggery owner, he started in 2017 with 15 females and 2 boars. Later, he had over 60 piglets after the first breeding/service. Few weeks later, all the pigs were infected with swine eripselas. Although he treated as promptly as he could, he still lost over 70% of the pigs. Few recovered but remained stunted. He continued feeding them, breeding and selling off due to poor productivity resulting from the initial infection. At some times, he bought boars to service the surviving females. He kept fighting one infection after the other until few days ago, the pigs got infections that would not respond to treatments. Among the few pigs left, he lost 3 while some were seriously ill. He had no alternative than to sell-off the remaining pigs and close down the farm.
Meanwhile, the chicken market located on the same axis with the meat market is not fairing too better off. From information gathered from various chicken sellers, it was clear that the poultry business has dropped since the onset of price rise in poultry feeds and other products. One of the sellers interviewed remarked that sales were no longer as good pointing to the scanty available chicken and egg sellers. Although he stated that the chicken market is somehow a seasonal one where birds are scarce at specific times of the year and available only during festive periods. Few egg sellers were seen and from interactions, they complained of rise in the price of a crate of eggs since the cost of feeds increased and eggs are no longer available as before. Few crates are now supplied and sold.
In Ogbete meat market, butchers and meat sellers appreciated the services of veterinarians who usually come for meat inspection at the abattoir, stating that meats displayed on their tables for sale are wholesome. They alleged that some meat sellers elsewhere sell unwholesome meat at cheaper prices which tempts consumers to buy without questioning the freshness of the meat, but that has never been the case with the Ogbete meat market.
Probably in corroboration of this allegation, in Agbogugu town situated in Agwu LGA, Enugu state, four men suspected of selling unwholesome meat to consumers in the town were arrested by the Mbanabo police division and some decomposing meat were seized from them. The Enugu state police PRO, Mr Ebere Amaraizu stated that the suspects go around in search for dead animals or decomposing meats in cold rooms to sell to the unsuspicious public. The police is currently investigating the arrested suspects.