The Federal Government has flagged-off the distribution of refrigerated meat vans to butchers and meat sellers’ association to commence the process of modernised meat haulage system in the states of the federation.
Speaking during the national stakeholders workshop on meat hygiene /distribution of refrigerated meat vans to butchers and meat seller’s association in Abuja, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar said it is part of move to address issues around meat haulage and concerns to ensure the safety of foods.
He said the nation’s inability to safeguard its meat and food has cost it to lose huge amounts of foreign exchange and limited Nigeria’s full participation in the trading of most agricultural commodities outside the shores of the country.
‘The practice [of meat haulage] was undesired, especially where carcasses had to be transported in wheelbarrows, open vans, pick-ups, among others, thereby exposing the meat to high-level contamination and quality [was] compromised,’’ Abubakar said.
Speaking further, the minister stated that, the ministry, in collaboration with financial institutions and private investors, expect that each state of the Federation would start with, at least, five (5) refrigerated meat vans including the one that was donated by the Federal Government through the ministry.
Abubakar, therefore, noted that, come May 29, 2023, anyone caught transporting meat in contravention of modern meat haulage protocols would be prosecuted.
Earlier, the permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, represented by the director, veterinary and pest control services, Dr. Maimuna Habib said meat hygiene was an important aspect of food safety and should not be handled with kid gloves. He noted that the perishable nature of meat and meat offal necessitated the need to improve on the operation of meat processing.
Besides the need to sanitise and bring the meat haulage system up to international standard, the operation has the potential to create sustainable jobs for youths in Nigeria, adding that several states and investors have already keyed into the roadmap to guarantee delivery of safe and qualitative meat to consumers.
Umakhihe, however, noted that the ministry had contributed to the drafting of the National Food Safety and Quality Bill that had passed the third reading at the National Assembly.
In his remarks, the national president of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Alhaji Baba Ngelzarma commended Abubakar for the laudable initiative and called for urgent training of butchers and meat sellers associations.
A statement by the director of information, signed by Mrs. Eremah Anthonia, said the highlight of the event was the unveiling of 11 refrigerated meat vans by the minister. In attendance were representatives of the Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC), Bank of Agriculture, (BOA), Agriculture Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), directors of veterinary services, president of the National Butchers Union of Nigeria, FAO Nigeria, the CEO of ABIS Farms, the CEO of Blue Blood Veterinary Services, amongst others.