The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has included the breeding of more donkeys in the National Policy for Agricultural Technology and Innovation (NATIP). The goal is to prevent their extinction. NATIP should guide the revitalization of all aspects of agriculture in the country between 2022 and 2027.
But what is donkey? It is “a domesticated hoofed mammal of the horse family with long ears and a braying song, used as a beast of burden; a donkey.
A UK donkey charity said on its website, thedonkeysanctuary.co.uk, that “donkeys were first domesticated around 6,000 years ago in North Africa and Egypt for meat and milk.” He continued: “About 2,000 years ago, donkeys were among the draft animals used to transport silk from the Pacific Ocean to the Mediterranean along the Silk Road…”
The Donkey Sanctuary says: “For thousands of years, donkeys have been mankind’s ‘helping hooves’ – they are the original beasts of burden. In many countries around the world, donkeys are used as the preferred mode of transportation. Donkeys are much more of an off-road animal than horses.”
In Nigeria, as in much of Africa and a handful of European, Asian and Latin American countries, donkeys remain relevant and useful to humanity as beasts of burden, sources of meat, milk and fur.
Farmers in rural northern Nigeria use donkeys to carry and draw water, carry mud to build houses, haul dung to farms, deliver firewood to households, haul bales and sacks of harvested crops for storage, and deliver goods to farmers. markets. Motorized transport teams have not ended the role of donkeys in transportation.
It is appropriate that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has recognized the value of donkeys in the NATIP document and is interested in the “promotion of donkey production through promotion, research and input support to prevent its extinction”.
The Ministry said in 2020 that Nigeria has around 974,499 donkeys. But 2019 figures released by the Food and Agriculture Organization indicate that Nigeria had 1.3 million donkeys. FAOSTAT says: “Donkeys are most numerous in Ethiopia (8.7 million), Sudan (7.6 million), Pakistan (5.4 million), Chad (3.6 million), Mexico (3.2 million), China (2.6 million), Niger (1.9 million), Afghanistan (1.5 million), Iran (1.5 million) and Nigeria (1.3 million).
The mass rearing of donkeys was advocated by the then governor of Zamfara state, Ahmed Yarima Sani, who opposed the excessive purchase of donkeys from the state for slaughter in other parts of the country. He prohibited the sale of donkeys, encouraged their use for transportation, and called for their domestic mass rearing.
A Nigerian newspaper quoted Isa Maishanu as saying that her mother bought her a donkey for a living. He reportedly feared that donkeys could become extinct unless the mass killing of them was reduced.
The Kaduna state government has banned the slaughter of donkeys in a town where their meat and skins are processed and transported to another state where the meat is eaten and the skin is exported to China. The government warned that transporting donkeys to Kaduna State is a criminal offense and offenders will be prosecuted.
Garba Datti Mohammed, a member of the House of Representatives, and Senator Yahaya Abdullahi introduced a bill to the National Assembly in 2021 that declared donkeys an endangered species, sought regulation for their slaughter, and the introduction of certification. export of their skins.
Mr. Ifeanyi Dike, head of the Donkey Traders Association (DDA) agreed during a public hearing on the bill that regulating the donkey trade could create jobs and enrich breeders, traders, slaughterhouse owners, logistics providers and exporters of donkey derivatives.
He said that DDA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI) for the breeding of five million donkeys within 10 years to prevent their extinction. So far no donkeys have been bred at NAPRI, Zaria.
Donkeys have been established to be used in transportation in parts of Nigeria. Donkeys are also raised as commercial livestock; and for their milk, meat and skins. Their mass slaughter without breeding to replenish the stock will be disastrous. Therefore, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was right to make raising more donkeys a policy issue.
Salisu Na’inna Dambatta is a retired federal chief information officer