By Olayinka Olawale/Oluwatope Lawanson
Lagos Dec. 15, 2020 Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State says his administration will establish an ‘aquaculture centre of excellence’ to boost fish production and create 10,000 jobs.
The centre, to be called the Lagos Aquaculture Centre of Excellence (LACE), Sanwo-Olu said, would be set up in collaboration with a private sector investor.
The governor announced this at the 2020 edition of the Lagos Seafood Festival held at the Muri Okunola Park, Victoria Island, Lagos on Sunday.
Represented by his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, the governor explained that the centre is expected to engage no fewer than 5,000 smallholder fish farms.
These, the governor said, would, in turn, create about 1,000 indirect jobs during the construction phase and another 500 direct jobs opportunities for people that would be engaged at different phases of the project.
He said that the project included the establishment of a 50 million fish hatchery facility.
The facility is projected to produce 2000 tons of table sized fish per annum and production of 24,000 tons of fish feed per annum fish.
“The project will also include a seafood processing centre to process 20,000 tons of fish per annum,’’ Sanwo-Olu said.
He added that the state was presently experiencing insufficient supply of fish and other seafood products, hence the need to have a private sector driven aquaculture centre.
“We estimated the present supply of fish and other seafood at 174,553 tons per annum, which is insufficient for residents.
“Therefore, we have collaborated with a private investor to set up the LACE to boost fish production.
The governor noted that Lagos, with a population of more than 22 million, had a consumption demand for fish and other seafood of 374,000 tons annually.
But the supply of these food items hovered around 155,262 tons per annum.
“It is important that residents keyed into and benefited from the value chain attached to the fisheries sector in order to fill the supply deficit.’’
Sanwo-Olu noted that the festival would be unique in 2021 as the state government will employ the use of deep-sea trawling to capture the big fishes in the deeper sea in Lagos.
“Next year by the grace of God, we will engage in the deep-sea trawling that allows us to go inner and get the bigger fishes.
“That, along with our other interventions, will allow us to employ close to 10,000 youths in the five divisions of the state,’’ the governor said.
Sanwo-Olu noted that the year 2020 had presented everyone with challenges that brought out the depth and resilience of character as a people.
Hence, he said that the seafood festival was a fitting occasion to celebrate the resilient spirit of the people, “even as we all looked forward to the prosperous and fulfilling Year 2021’’.
Earlier, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya remarked that the contribution of the fishery value chain to the nation’s socio-economic wealth could not be overemphasised.
Olusanya hinged these contributions on job creation, provision of protein, rural development and foreign exchange inflow through the export of fish products.
She explained that in 2019 alone, 5,000 tonnes of seafood, valued at over N25 billion, were exported by operators in Nigeria.
“It is in recognition of this fact, that the state government is currently implementing various projects in the fisheries ecosystem that will drive increased food production and socio-economic transformation of the rural areas of the state.
“These projects include the establishment of Fish Farm Estate Projects, provision of fishing inputs to fishermen, the establishment of the Cage Culture System and the establishment of Farmers’ Mart to serve as a marketing centre for agriculture products,’’ Olusanya stated.
The commissioner noted that the festival had an array of stands, ranging from fresh and processed seafood such as croaker, grunter, red snapper and tiger prawns, seafood culinary service providers and vendors of assorted beverages to a family fun park and kiddies area.