Indications have revealed that Nigeria and other neighbouring countries in West Africa are currently losing up to 40 per cent of their smoked fish being exported to the United States and Europe due to improper packaging and labelling. Consequently, this economic loss to improper packaging and labelling represents about $2 billion in revenue generation and also 300,000 job losses to West Africa’s economy.
The National President, Catfish and Allied Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFFAN), Rotimi Oloye, in a chat in Lagos, revealed that 40 per cent of smoked fish exported from Africa is detained, returned or destroyed at the U.S. and European ports due to improper packaging and labelling. He said the huge trade in smoked fish was a consequence of the growing demand by the increasing number of Africans, living in the Diaspora, adding that local exporters of catfish in Nigeria are facing challenges in terms of fish exports to the US and Europe, amid improper packaging and labeling which are not in line with international specifications. According to him, the association has advised catfish farmers to key into the international demand for the commodity, by packaging and exporting their produce in a bid to avert fish rejection at the international stage. Oloye said that farmers needed to improve their farm practices, to tap into the available market for the export of smoked fish.
“First, the smoked and dried fish must be wellprocessed and preserved. If the fish is not smoked, using the right wood, charcoal or technique, it may end up with high levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH). These substances are considered by the U.S. and the European Union to be dangerous to human health and are claimed to cause cancer.
Smoked fish consignments containing more than five micrograms per kilogram of these substances may not be allowed into the U.S. and the E.U.,” he said. The catfish association’s president added that farmers needed to get in touch with relevant authorities, to understand their requirements and ensure that they were in compliance with paperwork and other prescribed conditions. He advised aquaculture farmers to follow due process to build a flourishing export business. Speaking further on frozen fish, Oloye advised the Federal Government not to allow foreigners to collapse local fish production in the country. He said the association had discovered that due to the price war in the fish industry, some Nigerians had insisted that foreigners should not be allowed to import frozen fish into the country.
“Foreigners should not be allowed to import frozen fish into the country because this will affect local fish farmers. “Study has shown that in Ghana, for example, importation of frozen fish has disengaged local fish farmers with foreigners succeeding in creating an impression with the Ghanaian government that producing fish locally is not profitable,” the association’s president stated.