Lagos – The National Vice President of Tilapia Aquaculture Developers Association of Nigeria (TADAN) ,Tiamiyu Nurudeen, in an interview with Daily Independent said that farmers who venture into the business, especially tilapia fish farming are capable of fetching about 35 to 40 per cent returns on investment.
He advised Nigerians who want to venture into the business to start small depending on their financial capacity, stressing that one must know the nitty-gritty of the business before venturing into it.
“In venturing into any business, you have to start small. N1million is an investment, N100million investment is an investment but first, we need to understand the nitty-gritty of the business in terms of the market which is important. So, you need to build that market by starting small.
“An investment of N500,000 could be regarded as a starting base, so anything below that will come with the issue of scale of production which will now make your cost of production very high. With the scale of N500,000 you can actually start a tilapia farm and grow to N100million investment in a couple of years,” he added.
Correcting a wrong perception about tilapia farming as an unreliable business, Nurudeen explained that that has to change as various training and enlightenments are going on to teach people on best practices.
“When people say tilapia farming is a delicate business, this is because they never understood the business. A fish feed company Aller Aqua for some years now has been training fish farmers. With this training, you will understand that it is easier for farmers to learn from experienced hands.
“With the various training by experts across the country, farmers have improved in the aquaculture practices and people now have a better understanding of how to tender and nurture tilapia. So, with this farmers are getting more informed in terms of how to get the best aquaculture practices to raise tilapia on a sustainable level,” he added.
Educating would-be tilapia farmers on inherent dangers on this species of fish, Nurudeen identified up-boiling in the dam as one of the major challenges fish farmers encounter in raising tilapia.
“In the dams where you have big water bodies there is what we call up-boiling where the underneath of the water body comes up, but we have not had very frequent occurrences like that in Nigeria but sometimes this year, we had an occurrence similar to that last year but because of the fact that there is insurance in place to cushion the effect on the farmers, it did not affect much”.
He urged farmers to take up an insurance policy and ensure payment of premium, saying this will serve as a buffer for natural disasters.
He, however, lamented that despite government policy on the ban of importation of catfish and tilapia, specifically, truckloads of smuggled tilapia still find their ways into the Nigerian markets.
“As long as we are getting this cheap import coming in, the tilapia fish farm in Nigeria will never competitive because the basic challenge has to do with pricing. This fish that is coming from China come through the Benin Republic, it comes into Nigeria in truckloads, in containers and no tariff is paid. So, they are selling as cheap as possible to kill the local industry,” he added.
Regrettably, he said Nigerian farmers are having low sales because people are getting cheaper fish smuggled into the country and no one has raised concern over the sources of the unwholesome fish.
“An average Nigerian wants to eat fish but he is less concerned where the fish comes from. The cheap cost becomes the basic consideration against health implications.
“These species imported from China are rejected fishes that cannot be exported into Europe or American markets because of the issue of growth hormones and the very bad water conditions where these fishes are raised in volumes can hamper the health of people but Nigerian are less concerned.”
Nurudeen who is also the Managing Director of Amolese Aquaculture Nigeria Limited explains that the development is responsible for poor sales recorded by local fish farmers that battles to survive against imported fish.
However, he called on the government to develop the political will to stem the menace of tilapia fish smuggling into the country.
This, according to him, can be realized if the government can break into warehouses and cold rooms identified as stock for the items like they did to rice importation.
“There are cold rooms stores where you have smuggled tilapia. If that commences and sustained then the Nigerian public and the Nigerian farmers can have a mutual relationship in terms of producing fish and selling to the final consumers”.
“Tilapia and catfish are banned food items. This is because there fish farms in Nigeria that takes and produces these for local consumption.
Unfortunately, the imported species is everywhere in the market. Go to Ijora market; all the cold rooms are fully stocked with banned tilapia smuggled into the country by traders.
“Government knows where Ijora market is, why has it become difficult for them to break into the market, burst the warehouses like it was with imported rice.
He emphasized: “Why has it become difficult to visit the Ijora market where you have the large cold rooms where they store these smuggled tilapia fish because no major importer brings in tilapia fish into the country but the smugglers sell this fish in Ijora market?
He blamed authorities for insincerity on policy implementation, saying that government appears not ready to help fish farmers in Nigeria.
Acknowledging the increasing level of tilapia production in the country, he regretted that the major challenge remains the level of consumption and influx of cheap product into the market.
He said, “They are embracing our tilapia gradually and with the kind of method we have adopted in the marketing of our brand, it will soon get close to the prices of smuggled types”.
Lagos – Some unscrupulous fish farmers are using additives and fertilisers as feeds to boost catfish production in Nigeria, a fish farmer, Mr Phillip Ogunnaike, has revealed.
Ogunnaike made the revelation in an interview in Lagos on Wednesday.
He warned that the use of the chemicals might pose serious danger to Nigerians because of the popularity of catfish in eateries nationwide, especially in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Kaduna, Warri, Uyo and other cities.
He noted that although there were some benefits of using fertilisers in fish farming, it was dangerous to use chemical-based feeds to produce fish for consumption.
“The use of fertilisers to enhance the production of catfish will definitely yield better returns for local farmers.
“But the kind of fertilisers some local farmers apply to fertilise the catfish is not healthy for consumers.
According to him, some farmers use chemicals to boost the growth and production rate of catfish, to increase yield.
Ogunnaike advised fish farmers to allow the farming process to take its natural course in fish production, rather than resorting to additives to make fast money.
“These chemically enhanced feeds are actually harmful to the catfish and ultimately to human consumption.
He, however, attributed the rise in the practice and use of chemicals to boost the production of fish to the high demand of catfish in Nigeria.
“The growing demand for catfish has generally necessitated the wrong use of chemical fertilisers to boost production by local farmers.
Ogunnaike cited a farm at Ikorodu, near Lagos, where he said that the farm operators were always harvesting catfish at short intervals and selling at low prices to consumers.
“Where 1Kg of catfish sells for between N600 to N900 per kg, they sell at N450 per Kg. This is quite questionable.”
The farmer reiterated the need for the harvesting of the catfish to be done at the right time and for farmers to desist from cutting corners in their bid to make quick cash.
“It takes between three to six months to harvest a healthy catfish, depending on the size you want and the quality of the feed.
“If you feed the catfish very well on protein-based diet it will grow well.”
He advised fish farmers to embrace the use of safe and healthy fertilisers that would in turn boost the production rate of their catfish.
“There are some protein-based chemicals and fertilisers that can be applied to boost catfish production.
“They contain elements like maggot and worms. They can be used as fertiliser for the fish.
“Cow dung can also boost production of catfish but the quality of the animal dung sho
The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) has met stakeholders in the fishery sector to brief them on the Revised National Fish Standards and to discuss issues affecting the sector.
The stakeholders, comprising vessel and land establishment operators, discussed how they could help implement the relevant quality and safety standards in the fishing industry to ensure safe fish for consumption.
Safe fish are without contaminants harmful to human consumption, which could cause allergies, itching and cancers and in some cases death.
Most smoked fish are said to contain histamine, which causes reactions including asthma.
The GSA, under a building capacity project by UNIDO and Ministry of Trade and Industry, has developed and revised the National Quality Standards for the fish industry and, therefore, the need to brief stakeholders on the requirements.
A three-day workshop was, therefore, held for stakeholders who were taken through the standardisation process, the GS929 Code of Hygienic Practices for fish, GS 236 Requirements for establishing Checks system, GS 1131 Code of Practice for the Reduction of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, and the Role of GSA in the fish industry.
Professor Alex Dodoo, the Director General of the Authority, said it was responsible for all fish exports to the European Union and other countries, and had to develop the standards to help regulate the sector and ensure fish exported did not contain metallic contaminants and other harmful substances.
He said the workshop would help find solutions to the problems in the industry and discuss quality management systems to increase revenue for fisher folk.
“We see the fish industry as a very powerful sector for exports and Ghana stands to gain millions of dollars from it. We do know that there are big companies coming to produce fish, package it and exports it out of the country- it’s all good but we want to do more.”
“And obviously the best way to compete in the world is about your standards, the quality of your fish, and the fact that they don’t contain any harmful substances.”
Prof Dodoo expressed concern over the growing aquaculture fishing industry in Ghana, which made regulation “a bit dicey.”
He said the GSA was also working to ensure that fish consumed were safe adding that the use of car tyres to smoke fish and other animals for consumption produced hydrocarbons, which increases the risk of cancer.
Mr Joseph Korto, a Fish Processor, appealed to the GSA to build an office in Tema, where most of the fish companies were based, for easy access to enhance customer care.
He said the GSA must have standby machines and equipment to quickly replace old machines that breakdown.
Ghana is gradually becoming a trans-shipment hub in West Africa following expansion works carried out at the Tema Port, Mr Anthony Firmin, the Chief Operating Officer of Hapag Llyod, a German shipping Line, has said.
'The growth of Tema Port will further reinforce the role of Ghana as a hub for West Africa.'
At a Press Conference to announce the official opening of its new offices located in Tema, Mr Firmin recounted that Ghana's economy was strongly growing.
He noted that his company chose Ghana because the country was not only politically and legally stable, but was business friendly, making many multinationals in West Africa to set up their regional offices here.
Mr Firmin said Ghana's strong regional setting also offered a springboard into Africa and access to market of 350 million inhabitants.
He said his organisation for the past three years had offered expertise and support in the exportation and importation of perishable items such as yam, fruits and fish to Europe and across the globe.
Mr Firmin was also pleased that the company's enhanced presence in West Africa was showing signs of success.
'Our West African Express (WAX) service to and from West Africa has been operating with extraordinary success for several years and is very well received by customers.
'With our new East Africa Service (EAS), connecting all major trades globally via our hub in Saudi Arabia with Kenya and Tanzania, we have entered another new trade.
'As a result, we are tying Africa even more closely to our global network while benefiting at the same time from positive economic development in large parts of Africa,' he said.
He said Ghana was among the fastest growing economies in the Region, adding that her growth was primarily driven by the trade in gold, oil and gas products.
Mr Firmin said Ghana's ports handling capacity was likely to triple by mid-2019, from one million to three million Twenty Equivalent Unit (TEU).
'Hapag-Llyod is expecting additional growth opportunities from this capacity expansion,' he added.
Hapag Llyod is one of the world's leading shipping lines with a fleet of 219 modern container ships and total transport capacity of 1.6 million TEU. It has about 12,500 employees with over 380 offices in 125 countries.
Nigeria quest to drive economic growth through the agricultural sector is being threatened by the current ban on the importation of smoked catfish (siluriformes) and all fish products from the country into the United States.
BusinessDay investigations found that the ban was imposed after Nigeria’s Federal Government failed to fully address information requested by the United States in the Self Reporting Tool (SRT) before the due date.
The ban which has since taken effect in March 2018, has reduced market access for fish farmers in the country, as majority of the fish being produced locally are smoked and exported to the US, Canada and Europe.
“As of March 1, 2018, Nigeria has been ineligible to export Siluriformes fish and fish products to the United States due to deficiencies found during the initial stage of the equivalence process,” said Maria Machuca, public affairs specialist, Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), USDA in an email response to BusinessDay questions.
“Specifically, Nigeria failed to fully address information requested in the Self Reporting Tool (SRT) before the due date. The SRT is a questionnaire that FSIS uses to help assess whether a country’s food safety inspection system is equivalent,” Machuca said.
She stated that the FSIS is willing to work with the country, if Nigeria is also willing to pursue the process that is deemed equivalent, saying until that is achieved, fish products from Nigeria will not be eligible for export into the United State.
The country has recorded tremendous growth in its fish production as output increased from less than 500,000MT in 2011 to 1.1 million MT in 2016, data from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture states.
Key stakeholders who spoke with BusinessDay said the sector growth will be halted owing to the recent ban by the US government, adding that if not quickly addressed, the diversification drive of the country will also be hampered.
“Our attitude in Nigeria is always lackadaisical. When we are asked to do things we neglect them. If we had done what we were supposed to do, our smoked fish would not have been ban in the first place by the US,” Tayo Akingbolagun, national president, Catfish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) told BusinessDay.
“It is a huge loss on our part because a lot of infrastructure has been put in place to increase local production of fish in the country. A lot of investments are at stake and this would lead to job losses and would affect fish contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Our profit margins will shrink because we generate it from mainly from our export sales. A fish we sell for about N1,000 here is being sold for $14 in America,” Akingbolagun said.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that the country’s fish sector grew 4.05 percent in the fourth quarter in 2017, snapping two straight quarters of contraction. But the growth is expected to halt in the first quarter of the year.
As a result, catfish farmers have started counting their losses as their profit margins are fast declining owing to cancellation of future contracts to supply to African diaspora in US and Canada.
Richard Agetu cofounder Richsi Nigeria Limited, makers of Ejazuki smoked fish, who exports smoked fish to Europe and the US said: “We recently got an order of 50kg of smoked fish from Canada but our courier company that helps us in delivery across the globe told us they can no longer deliver the smoked fish to the US and Canada because it has been banned.”
“This is not good for us as money we would have made from that business deal has been cancelled,” Agetu said.
He called on the Federal Government to quickly attend to the requirement requested by the US government to allow farmers carry out their businesses without fear of rejection.
Reacting to BusinessDay questions on the recent ban, Muazu Mohammed, director of fisheries, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FAMARD) said the ban by the US government on the importation of all kinds of catfishes is temporary pending when certain certifications and quality standards are met.
“Template guidelines were however provided for compliance. Following this, Nigeria government had already engaged the services of consultant in carrying out all the necessary product quality laboratory analysis on all exportable fish and its related products in line with the template provided for necessary compliance to enable US lift the ban on Nigeria,” Mohammed said.
“The report will soon be submitted for onward transmission to the US,” he added.
Nigeria’s artisanal production (fish that is farmed locally) which comprises of catfish and tilapia is put at 694,867 metric tons per annum.
Captain Jacob Ovweghre, Director General of Maritime Security Agency, in this interview with DANIEL ABIA and JOE ASOMIJI, drew the attention of the National Assembly on the need to establish maritime security to protect Nigeria’s territorial waters. Excerpts:
What informed your decision to sponsor the Maritime Security Agency, MASECA, Bill at the National Assembly?
There were many reasons, but I will mention only three. Firstly, Maritime security is of utmost importance today with more than 80% of water trade goods and more than 70% of the nation income from crude oil exploration, which are transported by sea. Any nation that controls the maritime security tends to gain from the maritime trade.
As a maritime security expert, it is my duty to contribute my quota to upholding the good things our predecessors bequeathed to us, and that must not fail.
As shipping traffic grows, the pressure on the security of the nation territorial waters, Gulf of Guinea is increasing. Not only is there more likelihood of accidents and associated environmental damage, shipping traffic is also increasingly the target of piracy, organised crime and terrorism.
Moreover, illegal maritime activities such as illegal fishing, drug trafficking, weapon movement and proliferation coupled with illegal immigration are constantly on the rise.
Maritime activities are also expanding into the Arctic regions with growing traffic in the icy waters of the Northeast and Northwest Passages, and oil and gas platforms set up to exploit the huge reservoirs of resources in the Arctic. These activities rely on detailed and timely ice information to support safe and effective operations.
All these activities increase the pressure on the marine environment and the demand to be proactive, have early-warning capabilities and reliable monitoring services to boost maritime security, create massive employment and generate monies for the nation that is beleaguered by insecurity in the maritime Sector. Secondly, to help revamp the business activities in Nigeria territorial waters, eastern ports and to complement the efforts of the relevant maritime security agencies and build world standard maritime security architecture for Nigeria to reduce death of sea farers & other maritime workers from attacks of maritime criminals.
Thirdly, Nigeria is on the verge of getting it right in securing her maritime environments involving seafarers in security such as ECOMOG, Folk Island War and other conflict resolution mechanism. “Seafarers got tired since 2008, of the kidnap and loss of lives of their colleagues at almost every attack on vessels at sea by pirates and decided to pursue a Bill for the establishment of MASECA and volunteered to put their lives even in harm’s way to guarantee the security of the nation’s maritime environment from the territorial seas in conjunction with the Navy. It also helps the backwaters including the creeks, rivers, inland waterways and the Lake Chad basin and the provision of employment and human capital development for millions of seafarers and other able bodied Nigerians worthy of undertaking such dangerous responsibility.
All the above must be spearheaded by somebody, hence my sponsorship of the MASECA Bill.
What is the hope of the bill considering the delay processes and politics at the National Assembly?
The hope is very high and bright. The bill is not political; rather it is set to midwife and reshape the maritime industry for the betterment of the economy. Because we are losing out, we control almost 80 per cent of the cargoes within the sub region, and we have lost up to 60 per cent of the cargoes to neighbouring countries.
We have lost all our freight components to our neighbouring countries and the result is that Nigerians are losing out to all these countries.
As at today you cannot compare Nigeria’s tonnage to that of Cote D’Ivoir, and Togo despite our population.
Nigeria is losing out in a very serious way and this is very serious issues because the freight components, which create employments, are being diverted to other countries. Once a ship diverts, it goes with the freight components and you come back with the cargoes.
The freight components are those charges that are supposed to be for Nigerians. For instance, if a cargo which is supposed to be for Lagos is diverted to Togo, the charges the shipping company is supposed to charge, the service the terminal operators are supposed to charge and the charges the licensed custom agent is supposed to charge and the transporters will all be charged in Togo.
Don’t you think that it will be a duplication of function when the bill is passed into law?
No, it will not duplicate any other agency’s function rather it will close the missing links.
MASECA will be a panacea to the unbridled reckless attacks in the nation’s oil and gas facilities, both at off shore and on-shore, through intelligence report and surveillance.
The personnel will be on ground to provide rescue operation through constant patrols of installation with tracking device using multi-dimensional Approach of Military and community-based synergy.
To compliment Nigeria Navy and Nigeria Army amphibious in providing effective security to the coast, creeks, territorial sea and Gulf of Guinea as civilian JTF Marines, similar to Civilian JTF of the north East and inland water ways.
It will assist the maritime Police in providing effective security escort through the escort of people, goods and patrols in the inland water ways from the Sea and river ports.
For example we have Maritime Security Agencies in other nations. Countries such as US has (Marines and Coast Guard), Pakistan ( Maritime Security Agency), Argentina (Directorate of Maritime Protection.), Chile (Department of Maritime Security Operators), Ghana (Maritime Security Council) to mention but, a few aside their Administrative agency and the Navy among others are maximizing their profits accruing to them via the activities within the water environment with limited activities of the pirates and sea robbers. So, the Bill will be an added advantage to maritime security in Nigeria and Gulf of Guinea in general.
What are your prayers and what are merits of MESACA bill?
My prayer is for the Nigerian masses, National Assembly and the security community to support the Bill as its Public Hearing is coming soonest in the House of Representatives. The merits are numerous. They cut across maritime crimes such as Piracy, illegal fishing, illegal bunkering; proliferation of small arms will be reduced drastically in Nigeria.
Secondly, it will create massive employment for millions of people directly and indirectly the agency will provide direct employment to over 50,000 Nigerians ranging from youths to law abiding youth leaders from black spots and crime prone areas, maritime Security experts and repented militants with marine experience and qualifications, and 3million indirect jobs through Nigeria fishing industries and trawling business. It will increase water border patrols, port security and shipping security to increase trade, commerce and boost revenue generation through the ports.
It will also reinforce efforts of security personnel in the maritime and petroleum sectors. Not only that, it will engender corporate generation of engineering activities through skills conferment using electricity sources from DC component. Increase aqua -culture and commercial fishing.
It will provide opportunity for direct escort of Nigerian trawlers, ships and other watercrafts within Nigeria territorial waters and inland waterways.
Moreover, it will increase extensive participation in the production of agro-allied products through the technical and engineering units.
The unemployment rate in Nigeria is growing geometrically against arithmetical progression to people employed. The National Bureau of Statistics revealed that between January and September 2017, a total number of 4.07 million Nigerians became unemployed.
The bureau in the report, said that the number of Nigerians that became unemployed rose from 11.92 million in the first quarter of 2017 to 13.58 million and 15.99 million in the second and third quarters respectively. iii). It will generate billions of Naira for Nigeria at no cost of Federal Government. It means FG will not fund the Agency for its operation. Instead, it will generate money and block most of the licking holes where Billions of Naira are missing, for the Federal Government. Are you surprise? The Agency will be self-sustained. We want to give to Nigeria and Nigerians and not what we will get from Nigeria. Our generation of fund will not discomfort any Agency or business operation in Nigeria.
What will be the core functions of the MASECA when passed into law?
The core function is intelligence gathering, loss prevention, enforcement and strict monitoring of activities in the territorial sea, coastal land, inland waterways and the backwaters to the limit of the Lake Chad with aggressive patrol. Other functions are complimenting Navy, NIMASA, Nigerian Police Maritime Command and other security Agencies in the territorial sea, coastal land, inland waterways and backwaters through effective surveillance and rescue operation.
This will revamp the blue economy that is drastically taking a nosedive. It will cover the coastal land security, reduce if not eradicate the resilience of coastal and riverine populace by improving human security which has been ravaged by sea robbery, kidnapping and dreaded maritime criminals.
This has made the maritime environment and sector sleep walk into national disaster, which in various occasions bleed our economy and peace to near death.
What is your staff strength and what has been your achievement since the existence of the group?
We are 26,000 direct staff and 300,000 indirect staff. But we are aiming at 55,000 direct staff and three Million indirect staff.
Nigeria, with the presence of insufficient maritime personnel, Navy and NIMASA has continued to lose money to sea pirates and robbers and on installation too, therefore the need to give legal backing to MASECA in order to assist the Navy and other security agencies tighten the loopholes within littoral zones can never be overemphasised.
Nigeria will gain a lot from the experience of the USA and Israeli trained officers and reformed militants who are coming together if the bill is pass to law to keep contributing their quota to the development of the country by providing security to the coastal areas, inland and water ways.
Our achievements are on voluntary intelligence gathering for the existing security agencies and social responsibilities. For example, we were in Maiduguri, Bama and Biu to work with VGN and Civilian JTF sector 4 in March, 2015.
We also organised Peace Seminar in 218 communities and 8 Town- Hall meetings in Niger Delta between May to June 2016.
This was the turning point that spurs those aggrieved Militants to embrace peaceful discussion with Niger Delta Minister, Minister of state for Petroleum Resources, Elder E. K Clark-led stakeholders meetings and other groups.
Where did other security agencies in the maritime sector get it wrong that you think your group will succeed when given opportunity?
The other security agencies are using only the up-down and military or para-military inclusive approach which excluded the masses in the security.
Secondly, they are using too much military enforcement approach thereby infringing on some civilian rights which makes the citizens see them as unfriendly in this democratic dispensation.
We of MASECA shall use up-down, down-up and military-civilian approach which is holistic and exclusive approach for total security. Everybody is carried along from the youths, community leaders, paramount rulers to the local vigilante. In fact, everybody is involved in the operation of “See Something Say Something”.
This method gave us breakthrough against Boko Haram insurgency in the North East.
What approach will your organisation adopt to boost revenue to the Federal Government?
MASECA is going to be a para-military organisation that will train and armed its officers sufficiently to meet the asymmetric threats of the pirates or sea robbers they will confront within the nation’s maritime environment.
It must work and co-train in sync with the Navy, be placed under the Ministry of Defence, because of its peculiar role and calibre of weapons, and the fact that in times of crises the Agency will become an integral part of the Navy. “When passed into law, seafarers who are the crux of the manpower, and who currently work and live within our creeks and waterways, and are primarily naval – Merchant and retired Nigerian Navy personnel, are poised to come together to pull their experiences and knowledge together to serve the country rather than allowing Nigeria to become a laughing stock in the comity of maritime nations.