The Donkey Dealers Association has said that the proposed ban on donkey business in the country would render about three million Nigerians who are engaged in the trade unemployed.
The National Chairman of the association, Dike Ifeanyi, stated this on Monday at a public hearing on a bill to regulate the slaughter of donkeys through export certification value chain to mitigate extinction” organized by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.
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Ifeanyi said that an outright ban on donkey slaughtering was not the solution to the morbid fear of extinction of the animal but would rather create some powerful smuggling syndicate, who are hellbent on sabotaging the country’s economy through illegal export to China.
“Cows, which we slaughter more than 50,000 on a daily basis as meat has not gone into extinction. So how can a donkey with the same gestation period as a cow go into extinction? We should encourage breeding and ranching.
“We, the donkey dealers have invested heavily for years and have also signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI) for the breeding and production of five million donkeys within a space of 10 years. We took this action to increase the local population of donkeys in Nigeria to avoid its extinction,” he said.
Ifeanyi said donkey regulation, breeding and ranching policy would create millions of job opportunities starting from donkey farmers, traders, slaughterhouses, logistics and export. According to him, instead of a blanket ban on donkey businesses, the government should put in place a regulatory framework to stop smuggling.
Mr Marcel Okpara, a legal practitioner and a human rights activist, said the bill was a calculated attempt to put some Nigerians out of business. He, however, said the bill should be framed to protect Nigerians in the business of donkeys across its value chain.
A member of the House of Representatives, Mohammed Datti, earlier in his remarks said the bill seeks to prohibit the killing and export of donkeys to China.
Datti said, “This animal is facing extinction and it is an animal you cannot breed in large numbers because of the very low rate of fertility. The major beneficiary in this trade is the donkey breeding merchants in China with a profit of 293 million dollars in 2016 to the detriment of the rural people of Africa and Caribbean.”