…Says Only 1.1MT is Produced Out Of 3.6 MT Annual demand
ABUJA- The Federal Government is set to bridge the deficit gap in fish production by enhancing an increase in domestic fish production through youth and women empowerment programme that will also help to eradicate restiveness associated with unemployment.
Speaking on behalf of the government, the Director, Federal Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Ime Umoh hinted that, currently, the total demand for fish in Nigeria is 3.6 Metric Tonnes (MT) annually while we produce 1.1MT from all sources leaving a deficit of about 2.5MT to be bridged by importation.
He gave this hint at an Empowerment Congress organized by Catfish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFAN) over the weekend while saying that the situation calls for aggressive investment in fisheries to boost the economy and encourage export.
Umoh, who was represented at the occasion by Assistant Director of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Saliu Abdullahi said, fisheries and aquaculture sector contribute significantly to the economy of Nigeria through employment opportunities, foreign exchange earnings, income generation and provision of raw materials for industries. The sector generates 10 million jobs for the country
He added that, the Federal government is ready to collaborate with CATFAN for better productivity and also encourage them to harness opportunities from Federal Government Agricultural Loan programmes such as NIRSAL anchored by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for farmers to increase production and cushion the effect of Covid-19 pandemic.
He, however, stated that, the challenges and difficulty experienced in managing fish farms, marketing fish products and the enormous cost of fish feed is putting pressure on the sector. The recently ratified African Continental Free Trade Area and our fish market present new opportunities that can also help in solving some of the issues associated with marketing and fish farming.
More so, the Director of Fisheries, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Mrs. Ifeoma Okeke, who was represented at the occasion by Mr. Jonah Dabit said, the administration has established Fish Estate in Bwari and Kwali that will be replicated in all the Area Councils.
The idea of the Fish Estate is to boost fish production in FCT. Acquiring land in Abuja being the Capital of Nigeria became difficult for people who wanted to go into fish farming, the fish farmers applied and got land , those farmers that registered with us benefited when the allocation was granted . They have a place to build their houses and fish ponds without fear of poaching .
Meanwhile, the FCTA pioneer Acting Director of Reform Coordination and Service Improvement Department, Dr. Jumai Ahmadu said the Empowerment Congress is to ensure that Civil Servants key into fish farming.
Saying, existing plans should start the day you receive your acceptance letter as civil servants. While adding that with 20 thousand Naira you can start fish farming at the back of your house.
Earlier, the National President, Catfish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFAN) Mr. Onoja Musa said the amount of money government spends to import fish is quite huge and we as an association feel we can bridge the deficit gap that importers fill.
He added that, the congress was organized to promote the interest of their members.
Responding to a question on prices of fish, Onoja said, thus far, it has taken individual effort to produce fish, by the time government comes up with incentives for the farmers the prices of fish will come down. However, our price are still reasonable compared to the cost of the fish brought in from other countries, he stated.