Nigeria: Fear Grips Gombe Farmers As Snakebite Cases Rise

7 August 2020

Gombe — Farmers in Kaltungo Local Government Area of Gombe State have expressed worry over increase in cases of snakebite in the area.

The farmers said the reported out-of-stock anti-venom for the treatment of snakebite in the area had further heightened their concern.

Our correspondent who visited Kaltungo reports that the situation is discouraging most farmers in the town and the surrounding villages from farming this year.

Some of the farmers who spoke with North East Trust, said a vial of anti-venom now cost about N30,000, which according to them was too expensive for them to afford as most of them were peasants.

A farmer, Malam Adamu Muhammad Mamman, said farmers were skeptical about going to their farms because there was no drug at the Snakebite Treatment Centre (STC), Kaltungo, in case of an incident.

Malam Mamman said, "There is no anti-venom at the centre and most of us cannot afford to buy it. Therefore we are afraid that we are going to have a poor harvest, and this is coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic."

He further said their farms had become havens for snakes because of the rains which dislodged the snakes from their holes; hence the farmers being consistently bitten by the snakes.

Mamman, therefore, called on government, to as a matter of urgency, supply drugs to the STC in Kaltungo to save the lives of farmers and other members of the public.

Another farmer, Mrs. Asabe Abdullahi, said the situation was pathetic because people were at risk of dying from snakebite following the scarcity of the anti-venom at the STC.

Mrs. Abdullahi said most of the victims were peasant farmers that were struggling to feed their families.

She explained that, "As such, we cannot afford N30,000 to buy a single vial of the drug when we are still struggling to eat food."

She further said recently her nephew was bitten by a snake at their farm and that he nearly died before they could source for money to purchase the drug.

She, therefore, appealed to government to come to their aid and do the needful by providing the drugs in order to save their lives, especially now that food scarcity was looming because of the pandemic.

The farmers also lamented that victims of snakebite had no alternative than to go and source money to buy drugs which they described as "a very difficult situation considering our economic condition."

Officials at the STC, Kaltungo, referred this reporter to the state Ministry of Health as they are not authorised to speak with newsmen.

However, effort to speak with the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ahmed Gana, proved abortive.

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