Following an order by the Akwa Ibom State government to stop entry of livestock into the state and shut down all livestock markets with immediate effect, the prices of live animals, meat and meat products have sky-rocketed in the state.
In a press release circulated on May 11th, 2020 and signed by the secretary to the state government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, the government had ordered an immediate closure of all livestock markets in the state. According to the release, “by this announcement, no new consignment of livestock- goats, cows and rams, will be allowed into the state until further notice. Livestock sellers are advised to sell off their stock and proceed to shutdown. Security agencies have been directed to monitor and ensure full compliance”.
In response to the announcement, there has been frenzy and panic-buying by the public, as people troop in large numbers to buy and stock-up their homes for the period of the ban. This undoubtedly has pushed the prices to high heaven.
According to Mr Effiong Edet, a butcher at the Uyo Central Abattoir, he now sells previously N1,000 worth of meat at between N2,000 to N2,500. He stated that while many people have been buying at the new high costs, some simply turn round to leave in frustration. When asked why he is selling at such exorbitant rates, he replied that the cows he previously buys at the rate of N220,000 to N250,000 depending on the size, now sells at N350,000 and above; hence he must mark up so as not to experience losses.
According to Rilwanu Adamu, the open lairage which normally receives 40-50 truck-load of cattle (35 animals per truck), is now empty, and just remaining very few cows.
In his response to Livestonews reporter, the chairman, Akpan Andem Market Goat Dealers Association, Alhaji Aliyu Ibrahim noted that while they received the government order with mixed feelings, they acknowledge the good intentions of the government, and that as law-abiding businessmen doing business in the state, they will comply in good faith. He however expressed optimism that the ban will soon be lifted, so they can receive stock and sell, as their goat pens are all empty.
In his reaction, a representative of the government, Mr Michael Essien, the chairman, Akwa Ibom Central Abattoir and Livestock Committee heralded the decision of the state government, citing the age-long proverb that what an elder sees sitting down, a child standing may not see same. In his words, “I appeal to the good citizens of the state to bear with the government, as the measure is temporary. Government is looking beyond business. Government is looking at safeguarding the lives of her citizens. Some people use the disguise of trade to try to bring in certain things into the state”.
On the issue of meat availability for consumption by the teeming population he responded: “We will manage with the animals that we have. From another perspective, it is even a good thing; because we know that people have some cows in the bush, and livestock farms where they rear goats, pigs, fish and poultry in the state. This can serve as alternatives, and boost the livelihood of the farmers. It is an opportunity for our people to showcase what they have, and scale-up their livestock enterprises”. On whether the inflation in prices will be brought down after the ban, he smiled and replied, “we know how we will manage the situation, and crash the prices so as to cushion the effects on the buyers and dealers. The state governor has also set up a post COVID-19 Economic Recovery Committee that will map out strategies to reinvigorate the economy of the state and cushion the effects of all related issues on the state citizenry”.
With the current government’s strides at prevention and containment of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state, it is left to be seen how the butchers, livestock dealers and consumers will cope with the ban, and how government will manage the situation in the state in the coming weeks. LIVESTONEWS.