In a bid to reduce the N125.38 billion annual fish import bill, the Federal Government, through the ministry of agriculture, has mapped out strategies that will guarantee the growth of local fish varieties, boost employment, income, and foreign exchange earnings to encourage value-adding industries.
Information from Federal Department of Fisheries revealed that an aquaculture and artisanal fisheries value chain has been established, under which nine states and the Federal Capital Territory have been supplied with inputs.
In each of the nine states and the FCT, 840 fish farmers have been supplied with 500 fish juveniles free of charge as well as with five bags of fish feed at half the original price.
Foluke Areola, acting director, Federal Ministry of Fisheries, said the FG has begun the commercialisation of Tilapia and other fish species, whiledeveloping strategies to boost Tilapia , Latesniloticus and the shrimp value chains.
According to her, the FG is negotiating with core investors for the establishment of large-scale Tilapia farms in different parts of the country.
The ministry is promoting the commercialisation of fish production under the Stale Crop Processing Zone (SCPZ). Four of the 16 SCPZs have fisheries as the anchor crops, she said, recently in Lagos.
Under the Marine Industrial Sector, the ministry is embarking on the Marine Stewardship Council registration of her shrimp resources and someMarine and Fresh Water Fish Species.
“We are opening up the Deep Sea/Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for exploitation by issuing Letter of Assurances to companies to bring in Deep Sea Vessels into Nigeria,” she stated.
Analysts say Nigeria’s fish market is worth $1.75 billion (N292.25 billion). Out of this, N125.38 billion is the market size of imports, while the remaining N166.87 billion is assumed to be the capacity for the local market.
Due to the huge gap, Nigeria which is blessed with good natural water resources of 263 billion cubic meters, is now a dumping ground for imported fish.
Recently, an importer was caught with large tons of rotten fish, an action which prompted Akinwunmi Adesina, minister of Agriculture and Rural
Development, to order the closure of cold rooms with rotten fish.
Popoola Babatunde, assistant director, who read the acting directors address, said the FG had devised other measures to end such menace by instituting a transparent process in granting fishing licenses, while embarking on the Aquaculture Fish Farm Estate Development Programme. He pointed out that local fish produce, particularly of catfish, reported experience glut during the year, necessitating the efforts made by government to explore the export market.
BusinessDay gathered that the FG has also procured 200 smoking kilns for the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation (NCAM), while creating opportunities for investment.
To further increase local fish production, the FG has enumerated areas of investment and opportunities for investors. These areas include:large-scale and homestead and catfish production, large-scale Tilapia and other indigenous species, shrimp farming, fish preservation and storage equipment, fish brood stock development, ornamental fish development, fish
feed mills, fish meal plants, among others.
“We must grow fish to boost employment and open up value-adding industries. Some industries ought to use fish in production. Again, we must exploit Tuna and Pelagic fish resuorces, as it done in other countries blessed like Nigeria,”said Ike Ibeabuchi, CEO, MD Services Limited, in an interview with Businessday.