Federal Ministry of Agriculture has said that it is set to bridge the deficit in fish production by supporting more women and youths to go into fish farming. Director, Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture in the ministry, Mr Ime Umoh who stated this said that, “currently the total demand for fish in Nigeria is 3.6 Metric Tonnes (MT) annually while we produce 1.1MT from all sources leaving a deficit of about 2.5MT to be bridged by importation”. He said the situation calls for aggressive investments in fisheries to boost the economy and encourage export.
Umoh, who was represented by an Assistant Director, Mr. Saliu Abdullahi said, fisheries and aquaculture sector contribute significantly to the economy of Nigeria through employment opportunities, foreign exchange earnings, income generation and provision of raw materials for industries. Noting that the sector generates over 10 million jobs for the country, he said the federal government is ready to collaborate with CAFAN for better productivity and also encourage them to harness opportunities through various agro-schemes anchored by the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN.
Meanwhile Federal Capital Territory Administration FCTA has disclosed of plans to establish “Fish Estates” in all its six Area Councils, saying already, it has successfully established such estates in Bwari and Kwali Area Councils. Director of Fisheries in the FCT Administration, Mrs Ifeoma Okeke, said this in Abuja at an ‘Empowerment Congress’ organised by Catfish Farmers Association of Nigeria CAFAN. Represented by Jonah Dabit, the official said the FCTA is committed to replicating such estates in the remaining area councils to boost employment as well as the nutritional needs of residents. “The idea of the Fish Estate is to boost fish production in FCT. Acquiring land in Abuja being the capital of Nigeria became difficult for people who wanted to go into fish farming, but the fish farmers (in the estate) applied and got land. Those farmers who registered with us benefited when the allocations were made. They have a place to build their houses and fish ponds without fear of poaching”, she said..
Pioneer Acting Director of Reform Coordination and Service Improvement Department in the FCTA, Dr. Jumai Ahmadu on her part said the event was designed to encourage civil servants key into fish farming. “Your exit plan (from the service) should start the day you receive your appointment letters as civil servants. The good thing here is that with ₦20, 000 you can start fish farming at the back of your house”, she said.
Earlier, National President of CAFAN, Mr. Onoja Musa decried the cost of fish importation, saying his association has decided to step in and bridge the deficit. On the current high cost of fish in the market, Onoja said, “thus far, it has taken individual efforts to produce fish, but by the time government comes up with incentives for the farmers, the prices of fish will come down. However, our prices are still reasonable compared to the cost of the fish brought in from other countries”.