Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The federal government has said that Nigeria currently has a supply gap of about 2.1 million metric tonnes of fish.
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, made this disclosure yesterday at the stakeholders workshop on the WorldFish Nigeria research programme in Abuja.
Lokpobiri said Nigeria’s current annual national fish demand is in excess of 3.2 million metric tonnes.
The national production is about 1.1million metric tonnes from all sources, including aquaculture, artisanal and industrial fishing sectors, leading to a supply shortfall of about 2.1 million metric tonnes.
Fish makes up around 40 per cent of Nigeria’s protein intake while about 1,477,651 people work as fishermen.
According to the minister, Nigeria imported over 2 million metric tonnes of fish before 2015. He said fish production had doubled by 600,000 MT in the last three years, after government restricted food importation by directing fish importers to embrace backward Integration through commercial aquaculture.
“Many countries have embraced our import – backward policy. Some of the companies which have complied have been duly certified and can now export their fish and fishery products, including shrimps to the International market. In addition, Letters of Assurance are given to investors that intend to go into deep sea fisheries exploitation for tuna and other highly valued fish for export, “Lokpobiri said.
Catfish makes up about 80 per cent of Nigeria’s aquaculture production while Tilapia constitutes 20 per cent.
Lokpobiri said federal government will provide any material support needed by WorldFish Nigeria Research programme because of its significance and benefits to Nigerians.
The National Project Coordinator of West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP Nigeria) Dr. James Apochi, said for Nigeria to attain self- sufficiency in fish production, research should address core areas, including fingerlings production plus feed and post-harvest need.
Apochi said WAAPP Nigeria supported production of 16,500,000 improved fingerlings given out to farmers and private commercial farms for rearing to table sizes.
Director International Partnership and Program Delivery, WorldFish, David Shearer, said Nigeria is one of the focal countries where fish production and consumption are characterised by regional disparities.
The other countries in the group are Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, Solomon Islands, Egypt, Tanzania and Zambia.