….as WorldFish moves to develop aquaculture, fisheries industry
By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA- THE Federal Government has certified some companies to begin export of fishery products to the international market following accelerated growth of the subsector.
This was disclosed by the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Sen Heineken Lokpobiri, Tuesday, in his keynote address delivered at the ‘2 Day Stakeholders Workshop on the WorldFish Nigeria Research Programme’ ongoing in Abuja.
He said it was a welcomed development in the aquaculture and fishery industry, which international donors, government officials, regional directors and national research organizations meet to deliberate on steps towards the establishment of WorldFish Nigeria Research Programme.
He also expressed optimism that the programme will bring about positive results in developing the country’s indigenous culturable fish species.
He said: “Nigeria as you know is a large fish consuming nation and a net importer of fish and fisheries products. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have directed all fish importers to go into backward integration through commercial aquaculture (pond and cage culture).
“Some of the companies which have compiled have been duly certified and can now export their fish and fishery products including shrimps to the international market. In addition, Letters of Assurance are given to investors that intend to go into deep sea fisheries exploitation for tuna and other highly valued fish for export.”
Meanwhile, the Minister promised that support needed by the WorldFish Nigeria Research Programme due to the significance of the programme and its benefits to Nigerians.
However, he expressed worry following the huge fish supply deficit of 2.1 million metric tonnes.
“Currently, annually our national demand is in excess of 3.2 million metric tonnes while the production is about 1.1 million metric tonnes from all sources resulting in a demand-supply gap of about 2.1 million metric tonnes.
“The vision of the present administration is to grow Nigeria’s aquaculture subsector including fisheries and aquaculture to achieve a hunger-free nation through aquaculture that drives income, growth, accelerate achievement of food and nutrition security, generate employment and create wealth for millions of practitioners in the industry”, he said.
In his earlier remarks, Director, International Partnership, WorldFish, David Shearer, said the organization gives priority to delivering aquaculture and fisheries solution.
“WorldFish is a global organization with head office in Malaysia. The vision is to be partnership of choice; delivering aquaculture and fisheries solution, delivering focus outcome. The nutrition delivering agenda is important in Africa. We do ensure fish on the table and also for policy investment direction.
“Fish is significantly recognized globally. 800 million people depend on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihood. It got a positive contribution it can make in terms of nutrition and food security. Fish is a very important part of nutritional security from micronutrient point of food”, he stated.
Also speaking was the Country Director, Egypt and Nigeria, WorldFish, Dr Harrison Karisa, said the programme will bring the expected change in the aquaculture and fisheries industry in Nigeria.
“The workshop is expected to develop a roadmap for the establishment of the WroldFish Nigeria Country research programme and set up the research agenda for the intervening period. The worskshop will review the ongoing activities and align them with the broader WorldFish strategy and Fish CRP.
“The development of the research programme in Nigeria by WorldFish is geared towards fostering strong partnerships and developing and appropriate level of engagement through establishment of offices, having appropriate staff presence, and determination of an appropriate research agenda.
“Africa lacks behind the world in fish consumption, consuming about 10kg per person per year. Africa will need to double its fish production from both fisheries and aquaculture by 2030 to cater for present consumption levels”, he said.