Fish farmers under the auspices of Fisheries Cooperative Federation of Nigeria, FCFN, Sunday, called on the Federal Government to subsidize fish feed from N15, 000 to N10, 000 amid the ravaging Coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic, in order to boost fish production.
The demand was made by the National President of FCFN, Anthony Asgaye, while speaking with Vanguard on the high cost of production affecting his members.
According to Asgaye due to financial challenges by his member most of them cannot afford a 5kg of fish feed sold for N15, 000, rather they want it subsidized to N10, 000.
He further stated that fish farmers currently are recording huge losses and high production costs, and as a result find it difficult to continue with the business.
He said: “Federal Government has realized that being silent to agriculture is even dangerous than the coronavirus now that they have granted that farmers can go back to their farms.
“It is an advantage for us now to use this avenue to continue with our normal business. Actually, the lockdown as a result of COVID-19 has affected us and everybody, hence there is no movement and agriculture needs everybody because the farmer cannot be an island as he or she deals with other people.
“The effect is still there. We were hoping the government would provide the enabling environment to support us and we are still looking unto government. We are handicapped.
“The intervention we need now is to give us incentives in terms of micro-credit support. Although it is going on it is not easy to access it because the conditions attached to these credit facilities are not easy and they are not helping matters due to the time frame as agriculture is a seasonal business.
“We are appealing to government whereby farmers are given money to embark on the business and improve our products. The cost of materials for fish production is very high now.
“To raise a fingerling to a table-size is very expensive because the fish feed we have is on the high side. We are not producing fish feed rather we import. So if the government can subsidize fish feed alone is a major intervention.
“A 5kg of feed fish presently cost about N15, 000 but if it can be subsidized to at least N10, 000 because the cost of production goes on fish feed, and the implication is that fish would be expensive for Nigerians to afford, it will affect the nutrition of Nigerians, and with the situation now Nigeria cannot be self-sufficient in fish production.”
He also urged the government to consider the fishery value as major and important in boosting agriculture and should invest in it by making the value chain better for fish farmers, which will also attract potential investors and young people to become fish farmers.
He also made it known that support from donors is not getting to real fish farmers, which they have discovered and are discouraged to continue their support.
“There is something going on in the fish industry, which is support from donors but it is not getting to the real fish farmers.
“It is a major problem in the industry now. So when they see this happening they become discouraged to assist fish farmers when you approach them on how to assist farmers.
“They are not in collaboration with us to get to the real fish farmers and it is a problem. The government has the machinery and what it takes to reach us in order to know the real fish farmers.
“If they can approach, collaborate and work with the association they can easily get to the grassroots where the farmers are and are known but they don’t want anything association if they want they would not sideline us”, he said.