Animal rearing is an enjoyable social and economic endeavor for pastoralists but for Kabiru Ahmadu, a 20 year old young man who rears a herd of about sixty three cattle for his family near Dangora, in Kiru local government area of Kano state, animal rearing is a burden if he must take care of sick, tired and sluggish cows.
Kabiru’s plight is not different from that of most pastoralists in the state who periodically grapple with unhealthy livestock and its attendant implications on their livelihoods.
Animal health is a major issue of concern not only to pastoralist but to the generality of the people in Kano because it is from cattle, goats and sheep that the people get quality meat and milk which are rich sources of protein. Meat, processed in several forms and Fura da Nono, a local gruel consisting of milk and sorghum, are the habitual nourishment of the typical Kano man.
Besides, a significant number of youth and women in the state wholly or partly make a living from the livestock value chain including selling, milking, butchering, processing meat, skin tanning and transporting herds.
Nonetheless, the provision of dairy products and in the state has been threatened by declining animal health largely as a result of Contagious Bovine Pleuro-pneumonia (CBPP) and Paste Des Petit Ruminant (PPR) over the past few years.
Periodic outbreaks of the two diseases has resulted in poor animal in the state, leading to declining milk yields, reduced weight gain of the animals, especially cattle, and high animal mortality. These occurrences were however not well documented.
To worsen the situation, the government of Kano state, which has the sole responsibility of conducting the animal vaccination could not conduct the exercise for almost three years, due to dwindling resources and competing demands from the citizenry, among other reasons.
In the light of this and to help the state government to achieve food security, generate income and improve livelihoods, the Kano Agro Pastoral development Project, (KSADP) launched a state-wide mass cattle and small ruminants’ vaccination on 4th April, 2021 at Dansoshiya Grazing Reserve, about 105 kilometers from Kano City.
The Islamic Development Bank and the Lives and Livelihoods Funds, through the Islamic Solidarity Fund, IsFD, released $219,718. 88 for purchase of the vaccines, consumables and logistics as well as training of the personnel needed for the livestock vaccination campaign.
For the first time in so many years, an unprecedented 746, 385 cattle and 558, 057 sheep and goats were vaccinated while the campaign lasted for about 10 weeks.
As far as Kabiru and indeed, thousand of pastoralists are concerned, a new lease of life has been infused into their livestock.
Kabiru (smiling) says: “As you can see for yourself, even the texture of the cattle’s skin is different now, they have become healthy. I can drive them many kilometers and they will not become tired. They are no longer slow and their bellies have opened up (they feed well). You can see those ones galloping with grace, particularly the calves and that is a sign of good living. We give glory to Allah for the vaccination. Our parents said it is the Islamic Bank and one other organization (meaning LLF) that shoulder the responsibility. We thank them profusely”.
Sulaiman Abdullahi, another pastoralist who corroborated the position of Kabiru Ahmadu, now finds it easier to milk cows in his homestead. “If an animal is not well, it will not feed well and if it does not eat properly, the milk yield will be low. Before the vaccination, it takes me longer time to milk the cows and the volume of milk I collect then is much lower than what I obtain now. I hope other states will emulate Kano by conducting similar cattle vaccination since Fulanis are nomadic”.
“About two years ago, our brothers in some homesteads lost five, 10, 20 and even more cows because there was no place to access vaccination for the sick animals. This year, since the vaccination I have not heard about the death of a single cow from CBPP. The fact that the vaccination is free shows that the state government, the Islamic Development Bank and LLF have us in their hearts”.
At Tasa – Fagi, Dawakin Kudu local government where the Kano Dairy and Livestock Husbandry Cooperative Union has a modern milk collection center, there is conspicuous movement of mostly youths and women bringing in milk.
The chairman of the union, Usman Abdullahi Usman was happy to announce that the livestock vaccination in Kano has made huge impact. “As I am talking to you now, more and more people are bringing in milk. Let me tell you that for instance, a woman that used bring in seven liters of milk here in the past now brings in between 10 – 11 liters. It is a sign of improved cattle health because of vaccination”.
He added: “honestly in the past, you cannot get this amount of milk because some of the cattle are not healthy. In fact, I know of places like Bunkure, which is a neighboring local government where high animal deaths were witnessed from time to time last year because the sick cows could not get vaccinated”.
The Kano Fura Da Nono Cooperative Union, the umbrella union for 40 cooperative societies with nearly 9, 000 members, mostly itinerant hawkers of milk and other dairy products, domiciled at Kofar Wambai market in the heart of Kano city also believe that the recent vaccination was worthwhile.
Its chairman, Alhaji Muhammadu Lawan Alaramma says:”Last year in a day, you find only a few drums of milk in the market. Those looking for large quantities have to go as far as Maiduguri, Adamawa and Jos searching for milk. Now you can find one person with several drums of milk and everybody is busy in our market. I want to believe that it is because of the cattle vaccination held earlier this year. If the authorities can continue with it, economic hardship will be reduced”.
On the part of butchers, the vaccination has impacted on the quality of meat they sell to the public according to the traditioanl leader of butchers in Kano, Alhaji Isyaku Alin Muri.
“At the Kano Main Abattoir where my office is, we slaughter 30-40 camels, 120 cows and 300 – 400 sheep and goats on a daily basis. Previously, we used to condemn 20 – 55 animals monthly, that is those that are not fit for human consumption because of poor health. Since the recent vaccination, we condemn only 3 – 5 per month. The animals brought in here have shown increase in weight meaning better meat quality. The vaccination has worked”!
A Veterinary Public Health Inspector at the abattoir, Hamza Muhammad Sadauki stated that necessary quality assurance checks are conducted on animals on offloading them and post mortem conducted after slaughter. He said noticeable weight gain was recorded and the meat quality has also shown improvement. According to him, consumers are happy because the meat they buy is good.
“I remember there was a day 10 cows were condemned because the animals were certified unfit for human consumption due to CBPP. It was a sad day for the butcher because of the heavy loss he incurred. Immediately after the vaccination, things started to change and we identify fewer animals for condemnation. Even those that we get once in a while are those brought to this place from outside the state”.
Policy makers are also glad that livestock vaccination in the state was reintroduced after a three year break. The Managing Director of the Kano Agricultural and Rural Development Agency, KNARDA, Dr. Junaidu Yakubu Muhammad described it as a major milestone for the people because of the impact it created along the livestock value chain.
“A major constraint to increasing animal production and improving productivity is lack of vaccination. The state government, therefore, appreciates IsDB, LLF and IsFD for the tremendous support extended in ensuring that the vaccination is conducted throughout the state free of charge”.
Ameen K. Yassar
29th September, 2021