If Nigeria wins the current battle to increase fish production by 1 million metric tonnes in four years, the country’s production of the staple would increase to the value of N66 billion in 2017.
“We expect that within four years, we will add an additional 1 million metric tonnes of fish to our domestic production and reach 67 percent self sufficiency,” said Akinwumi Adesina, minister of agriculture and rural development, speaking on current efforts being made to step up production.
Adesina was speaking at the second stakeholders interactive session on repositioning the fisheries sector, held yesterday in Abuja.
He said currently, to meet the annual fish demand of 2.7 million metric tonnes, the country imports 1.9 million metric tonnes of fish, estimated at N125.38 billion every year, and produces about 800,000 metric tonnes, estimated at N52.8 billion.
To achieve the target of increasing production by 1 million metric tonnes by 2017 and reducing import by 25 percent every year, Adesina said, “Our four-year target is to increase the production of fish fingerlings by 1.25 billion per year, the production of fish feed by 400,000 metric tonnes per year; and increase table size fish production by an additional 250,000 metric tons per year.”
After highlighting the various on-going programmes of the government to reach the target, Adesina had very strong words for all those allegedly trying to frustrate government’s efforts at achieving these objectives.
He said, “Allegations are rife of dubiousness among some importers who declare fish for imports, but are actually importing other things, including cars.” He then insisted that those importing fish must invest in local fish farming and production.
The grievances of the importers were made known in a recent statement in the media, signed by Ginger Mba president, Association of Fish Suppliers of Nigeria (AFISUN). The association stated that rather than the expected 25 percent cut in fish importation this year, the importation had been reduced to 80percent. Mba said that the 80 percent cut was a threat to jobs, domestic and foreign direct investments.
The minister of agriculture however said the statement by AFISUN was misinforming to the public. “The fact is that fish importers have over the years substantially under-reported the volume of fish being imported and avoided paying license fees due to the government. “The import allocation made by the Federal Department of Fisheries was based on fish importers’ declared and revealed volume of imports, not their subterranean and hidden volume of imports.”
He added, “There is no reason why the price of fish would increase in the market, except due to speculative purposes by fish importers, to make supernormal profits and undermine the policy of government to make Nigeria self-sufficient in fish production”.
Another claim being raised by concerned Nigerians is that the fish producers in the country do not have the capacity, due to infrastructural challenges, to meet the ambitious target of the government and that the masses would be the ones to suffer.
But Bolaji Dania, a fish farmer and president, Lagos Commercial Agriculture Development Association (CADA) told BusinessDay that she was convinced that the way the current programmes at increasing fish production in the country were being run, the 1 million metric tonnes increase in production would be met within the stipulated period.
She said, “I am sure because even small scale farmers are being supported through the Growth Enhancement Scheme, to receive the inputs needed at subsidised rates.”
By: OLUYINKA ALAWODE