Lack of facilities slowing growth of fish business
Morning Crossfire starts with the ReportWomen radio programme which focuses on 'The Challenges of Women in Agriculture – Fish Farming'.
Historically, fish farming was one of the most important aspects of Nigeria's agricultural sector in the early 1980s. Back in the day, the colonial administration began to pay closer attention to the country's local resources, which included fisheries, during the World War II.
Nigerian fishery statistics of 2016, the total fish demand for Nigeria, which was based on the 2014 population estimate of 180m, was 3.32million metric ton. Finding reveals that the domestic fish production from aquaculture, artisanal and industrial fisheries in 2014 was 1.123 million metric ton.
In 2014, fisheries contributed 0.48% to the agricultural GDP of the nation while the contribution of Agriculture to the country's GDP (2014) was 20.24%.
Findings have shown that in order to ensure development in the area of fish farming, the colonial government established a fishery-based organisation in Lagos in 1941 which then conducted preliminary surveys and experiments in the ponds, lakes and lagoons of the area.
In 1945, the organization became a section of the Department of Commerce and Industries. By the 1950s, the organization had grown to become the Federal Fisheries Services. Then in 1954, the operations of the branch were split between the federal and regional (Northern, Western and Eastern) governments in the country.
Agricultural research-based findings indicate that the current demand for fish in the country is about four times the level of local production.
Statistics has shown that humans consume approximately 80 percent of fishes as food while the remaining 20 percent goes into the manufacturing of products such as fish oil, fertilizers, and animal food. Findings pinpoint that the demand for fish in Nigeria mostly outstrips the local production. This implies that Nigeria is the largest fish consumer in Africa and among the largest fish consumers in the world with over 1.5 million tons of fish consumed annually.
Nigeria imports over 900,000 metric tons of fish while domestic catch is estimated at 450,000metric tons/year. Available statistics indicate that the growth in fish production is due to increased activities of aquaculture, and the need for aquaculture arose from the decrease in supply from ocean fisheries as a result of over-fishing, habitat destruction and pollutions.
According to the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research, Nigeria spends about $1billion annually on fish importation. This high expenditure is to cater for the deficit of 2.2 million metric tons of fishes need for consumption by the populace in the country.
What are the factors that still make Nigeria highly reliant on fish importation despite having a coastline of about 883 kilometres bordering the Atlantic ocean as well as fresh, and mango swamps, and coastal rivers?
Are there health implications of eating frozen fish? Who is watching and monitoring the quality of the fish as it is brought in? Olatokunbo Ibironke has an answer for that.
“For quality of the frozen fish, we have extension agents all around. They are very active and most times when the fish lands, the women quickly take up the fish. Very soon we are proposing wholesale fish market and we are looking for investors to partner with government.
Emmanuel Audu responds on concerned reports that dangerous preservatives used on the frozen fish. He begins by saying he has not much authority to speak regarding this because there are federal agents and state agents who monitor things like this.
“But from a layman point of view, I know that if you bring fish in and store in a fridge or refrigerator and power keeps coming and going it will actually deteriorate. I believe that frozen fish is not 100 percent fresh and there are fish farmers who produce catfish. There people who patronize what we produce locally. These can expand the production base.
“People see catfish as something for the elites. I once gave someone catfish and he said to me, ‘you are a big man’ but some don’t know that you can a kilo of fresh catfish for as cheap as 700 naira.”
Join the conversation and leave your comments below
•Sharon Ijasan Journalist TVC News Nigeria
•Mrs Olatokunbo Ibironke Emokpae - Director of Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture
•Mr Emmanuel Audu - Deputy Director of Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture
Written by Jude Chukwuemeka