By Akanimo Sampson
President Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) administration is planning to stop fish importation in Nigeria in the next two years in a bid to abort the country’s continued capital flight in the sector.
Nigeria spends around N360 billion annually on fish importation, going by the claim of the Director of Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research Lagos, Dr. Adekunle Oresegun. He had stated that the country spends about $1.00 billion yearly on the importation of fish.
The director who spoke at a vocational training and empowerment programme on agriculture in Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi State, noted that Nigeria has great potentials for fish production, which if harnessed properly, will save the country about $1.00 billion expended on fish importation.
According to him, “the truth of the matter is that Nigeria spends about one billion dollars annually on importation of fish. Because of our fish production deficiency in Nigeria, we want to increase the number of people who have the knowledge and skills to farm fish.
“The intention of this vocational training is to increase fish production. “There are two ways to approach it: to increase production by increasing the number of people into fish production; to genetically modify the fish for productivity. The metric tons of fish production in Nigeria is below the demand and consumption of fish and so we are still at the infancy in popularising fish production.’’
In the meantime, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) says it has begun work towards creating a national control policy to reinforce its duty of fighting animal diseases and pests in the country.
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, who made this revelation during the reception of a delegation from the National Fish Association of Nigeria (NFAN) led by its National President, Dr. Gabriel Ogunsanya, in Abuja, said that with the revitalisation of the aquacultural value chain by the Federal Government, fish importation might be halted in 2022.
The minister stressed that it was high time Nigeria utilised the huge opportunities in fisheries and aquaculture for local consumption and export and that the government had started placing measures to actualise the plan.
Nanono said that fish farming is an area that needs attention, not only from the government but in joint hands with private businesses to promote fish production and significantly reduce importation of fish into the country.
According to the minister, “the issuance of licence along the value chain has increased positively over the years and I hope next year we will further cut it so that in the next two years we may rely entirely on what we produce here. It is important that producers and processors take note of your development in the fish sector and look for ways to fit in towards this because, in the next years, we probably will not allow the importation of fish into the country.’’
Continuing, he said locally bred catfish and tilapia fish have a high local consumption rate and are popular in the international market which gives local producers and processors a huge opportunity, adding, “we can only rear catfish, tilapia and a few other species but I know for a fact that the consumption of catfish is very high in this country it now has an export market. So, if you put your head together and work hard, the future is very bright for fish producers in this country.’’
While Ogunsanya commended the minister for his commitment towards agriculture but called him to enable training programmes of the ministry and other relevant agencies for their members, the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) of the ministry, Dr Alabi Olaniran, said that the ministry was updating the existing policy, adding that vaccination could not be ruled out in the prevention of disease attacks.
The disclosure is coming after the ministry had succeeded in allaying fears of herders following the outbreak of Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP) in Bauchi.
Though an estimated 2, 000 cattle have died and 200 infected in the outbreak of the disease in Abuja, Olaniran said funding was a major challenge in tackling the menace as the ministry has no fund for compensation.
The CVO reiterated the ministry’s commitment towards supporting state governments with vaccines strengthen their animal disease and pest control efforts.