Federal Government has reiterated its resolve towards achieving a hunger-free nation through agriculture, employment generation, poverty reduction as well as the creation of numerous investments for millions of Nigerians.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Nanono gave the assurance in Abuja, at the just-concluded 35th Annual Conference tagged: Niger 2020” with the theme: ‘The blue alternative for sustainable development in Nigeria post-COVID-19: The role of fisheries and aquaculture.’
The Minister who was represented by Director of Federal Department of Fisheries, Mr Imeh Umoh observed that with the current total demand for fish stands at 3.6 million tons annually, Nigeria produce 1.1 million tons from various sources, giving a deficit of 2.5 million tons supplemented by importation.
According to him, it is estimated that over 3 million Nigerians are actively engaged in a primary and secondary fishing occupation, adding that the contribution of the fishery to the national gross domestic product is about 4.5 per cent.
“Let me inform you that the vision of Mr President is to grow Nigeria’s agricultural sector to achieve a hunger-free nation through agriculture that attracts income growth and ensure achievement of food and nutritional security, generate employment and transform Nigeria into a key player in the global fish market to create wealth for millions of practitioners.
It is in this regard, that Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development under the present administration is pursuing a holistic approach to the development of fishery sub-sector through the diversification programme along the value chain process.”
According to him, in line with the theme of the programme, the Ministry has developed various programs towards increasing the “domestic fish production and empowerment of youths and other youths especially the women, developed for wealth creation, arrest and prevent youth restiveness and food and nutritional security.
In the bid to reduce fish importation into the country and generate employment, Government has directed all fish importers to go into backward integration through commercial aquaculture for local consumption and export into the international market. Several companies have complied with the policy and the ministry is optimistic in the next two years, Nigeria will have no business importing fish,” he noted.
The Minister also expressed support for the fisheries sub-sector as one of the value chains in the ministry that has the driving force for wealth and job creation, contributes to food security, poverty reduction as well as the creation of numerous investment opportunities to the teeming Nigerians especially during an economic recession which is occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic.
As you are aware, the contribution of the fisheries and aquaculture sub-sector into the economy at the ongoing economic consultative programme of the present administration is very significant in terms of employment, income generation, poverty alleviation, foreign exchange earnings and production of raw materials.”
While speaking, National President of Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FISON), Dr Agbabiaka Adegoke, has unveiled plans to embark on Mapping of Fisheries Resources and Floodplains across Nigeria, as part of ongoing efforts toward improving fish production in the country.
Dr Adegoke who disclosed this underscored the need for the re-introduction of the Presidential Fisheries Committee, which is necessary to evaluate government policies and make necessary recommendations as at when required.
He also unveiled ongoing plans to collaborate with Organisations/Societies and groups having related interests in the State, Nigeria and other parts of the world; FISON has consulted with the different tiers of stakeholders/government at the Local, State and Federal including international agencies for the progressive growth of Fisheries and Aquaculture potentials of Nigeria; our major limitation is funding, else, we have the capacity to undergo Mapping of Fisheries Resources and Floodplains, compliment the inadequate staff strength of FDF in certification exercise and develop the very important National Residue Plan for Nigeria especially now that WTO is almost in place for competitiveness in West African Markets.
“In order to achieve self-sufficiency in food fish production, the government in the last decade has made a paradigm shift under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) is now considering Agriculture (Fisheries and Aquaculture inclusive) as a business. In view of this goal, a number of transformational programmes/projects have been recommended to the government.
“Among these programmes are the National Aquaculture Technology Transfer Centres, Demonstration Fish Farms, National Accelerated Fish Production Programme, Brood Stock Development and the National Fish Hatchery Development Projects. These lofty ideas were not effective this year perhaps due to COVID-19 lockdown and economic consequences resulting from dwindled foreign earning, coupled with inadequate funding of Federal Department of Fisheries (FDF) that was budgeted to share a paltry 8 per cent of the entire Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) with Livestock while almost 80 per cent went to crop and extension departments.”
He also tasked FISON members on the need to explore abounding opportunities in the local production of Fish Oil popularly called Seven Seas/Cod Liver Oil with an estimated 100 million market annually in Nigeria, without any significant competition locally over last 3 decades.
“This should be a challenge to all FISON professional in Nigeria; the resultant effects of tapping this hanging fruit will curtail capital flight, unemployment and deplorable livelihood with chaos.”