The Donkey Dealers Association (DDA), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), says a bill seeking a total ban on the slaughtering of donkeys will result in loss of businesses for about three million persons.
Ifeanyi Dike, national chairman of DDA, said this on Monday when he appeared before the senate committee on agriculture and rural development, at a public hearing in Abuja.
Dike said the ban would create smuggling syndicates whose focus would be to export products from the animal to China.
“We should know that the outright blanket ban as proposed by this bill will create some powerful smuggling syndicates who are bent on getting the donkey derivatives for export to China, thereby sabotaging the economy,” he said.
“The blanket ban on donkey killing and export of its derivatives as a result of morbid fear of its extinction has failed to realise that regulation, ranching and breeding is the solution.
“Cows which we slaughter more than 50,000 on a daily basis as meat have 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.
“Each of these segments is very important in revenue generation into our economy by way of taxation and levy collections right from the local governments to the states and to the federal government.
“It is projected that donkey businesses, if properly regulated, are capable of injecting N10 billion annually to our economy.
“[Consider] the plight of over three million Nigerians that would be out of jobs and businesses if the bill is allowed to pass.”
However, the Guardians of Democracy and Rule of Law, a civil society organisation (CSO), said the regulation of the donkey value chain would mitigate arbitrary slaughter of donkeys.
“Nigeria is better placed on economic advantage to harness from these border countries to make Nigeria a donkey hub in sub-Saharan West Africa region, thereby attracting investors who need the donkey derivatives as their raw materials such as hides, blood, bones, dung, while restocking the Nigeria herd through breeding and ranching of indigenous donkeys,” the CSO said in its submission to the panel.
“Some reasons for our support of the bill are: It will strengthen the operations of the Nigeria agricultural quarantine service by creating a framework for seamless enforcement of the arbitrary slaughter regulation while restocking the national herd; wealth creation and employment generation to curb the spate of insecurity in the country.”
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services had, in January, warned citizens against the consumption of donkeys.
The agency said donkey are at the risk of becoming extinct in the country, adding that “donkey slaughter, donkey trade, donkey meat, donkey hide are illegal businesses”.