BY GABRIEL EWEPU
ABUJA — THE Federal Government said, yesterday, that the country spends over N125. 38 billion annually on fish importation.
The government lamented that despite the abundance of water resources and marine eco-systems that could lead to saving of more than that amount and create jobs for the teeming population, the country was spending so much on importation of fish.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who disclosed this at a ‘One Day Interactive Session on Re-Positioning the Fisheries Sector,’ maintained that the Federal Government had not placed ban on importation of fish as being speculated.
He said what government had done was to come up with policies that would help curb sharp practices that had bedevilled the growth and development of the fisheries sub-sector.
Adesina said: “Nigeria spends an estimated N125.38 billion importing fish every year. This is totally unacceptable. Fish does not grow on sand, it grows in water, and Nigeria has abundant water resources and marine eco-systems to produce high quality fish.
“This is why, for the first time ever, Federal Government has started a fish production support programme for fishermen and fishing communities.
“Our Growth Enhancement Scheme, GES, now includes subsidies for producers of fish. In 2013, a total of 3.6 million juveniles, 36,000 bags of 15 kg of feed and 200 water testing kits were provided to fishermen in ten states, at a total cost of N1.5 billion.
“We reached an additional 18,500 fishermen in 14 states, during the flood recovery programme, with provision of juveniles, fish feed, fish meal, nets, floats, sinkers and ropes. This is only the beginning, as we will significantly ramp up fish production interventions this year.
“It is important to make it clear that the government has not banned the importation of fish, as it is being misrepresented by unscrupulous fish importers.