By Ebun Sessou & Elizabeth Uwandu
As part of efforts to curb unemployment and reduce the country’s over-reliance on oil sector, the Federal Government through the Green Initiative programme recently organised a two-day training on Aquaculture Production and Fish Post-Harvest Technology for women as well as unemployed graduates in the Northern part of Noigeria organised by Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research, NIOMR.
Speaking of the role the training would play in their lives, Olusoji Temitope Elizabeth, from Kogi State, and a graduate of Pure and Applied Chemistry, her seven years of idleness was finally over as not only would she fend for herself, she would be able to employ others.
“I was in Lagos for fish-rearing training and to get empowerment. I graduated in 2011 from Kogi State University where I studied Pure and Applied Chemistry. It has not been easy being unable to get any meaningful job. However, this training will enable me fend for myself and help others,” she said.
Coming from Kano, Mrs Rabiu Buba Zubairu, a mother and a farmer said the training in aquaculture will reduce the rate of liability in the society. Her words: “I believe this training in aquaculture will make us productive to the society. And in addition, many will also benefit from us making a lot of youths and women to be gainfully employed.”
She added that her aim was to broaden her horizon on farming generally. “I am into poultry farming. But I have zeal for more knowledge in farming, so being involved in agricultural activities, there will be no way I will be a liability to the society,” said Mrs Zubairu.
On the reason for the workshop, NIOMR Executive Director, Dr. Gbola Akande at the opening of the event, explained that the training, among other things, will make Nigeria self-sufficient in fish production as the country currently spends $1 billion on fish importation.
Mubarak Ibrahim from Abuja, a 2014 graduate of Entrepreneurship, explained that he had nothing doing due to lack of job. “I came from Abuja for this training to learn the process of fish-rearing. I have been doing nothing after graduation in 2015 from Nassarawa State University where I studied Entrepreneurship. After this training, I hope to have my own fish farm, “he added.
Dr Akande who was represented by Dr Patricia Anyanwu, Director of Research, NIOMR said: ”The fisheries sector and aquaculture in particular, now occupies a very prominent position in the economy of Nigeria. This is because fisheries and aquaculture play major roles in employment generation, poverty alleviation, food security, foreign exchange earning among others especially for the rural poor.
“However, the total demand for fish in Nigeria for 2015 was 3.36 million tonnes according to Federal Department of Fisheries, whereas total domestic production in the same year was 1.027 million tonnes. Part of the deficit of 2.233 million tonnes is currently met by imports, and Nigeria spends $1.0 billion importing fish into the country. Our goal is to be self-sufficient in fish production. This deficit in fish production can be met through local production by engaging our youths and women in aquaculture production in a more sustainable manner for increased fish production and better standard of living,” explained NIOMR director.
On how the training will be beneficial to the participants and to the country at large, Dr Akande explained that starter packs will be given to the trainees that would enable them start their own business, be gainfully employed, at the same time able to employ others. A move which he said will reduce Nigeria’s dependence on oil.
His words: “This workshop is therefore timely especially as there is urgent need in Nigeria now to promote the non-oil sector for revenue generation especially through aquaculture. The trainees after the programme will be empowered with Starter Pack to start their own fish farming business. The Starter Pack comprises two plastic fish tanks, 1000 catfish juvenile, 35 bags of vital fish feed, two basins, 1 scale, 1 hand net, 1 plastic bowl, 1 big plastic sieve, 1 log book for record keeping and 2kg salt for bio-security.
“Again, after the workshop, the trainees are expected to produce 500 kilograms of fish in five months. Imagine if we have about 60 of them producing this quantity, there will be increase in quantity of fish produced in the country. We are hoping that they will take fish-rearing as a business and expand into other areas of aquaculture.
“In addition, monitoring and evaluation have been included in the programme as our scientists that train the participants will go round all their farms location to check them, we will also use WhatsApp forum to engage the participants, having in mind that a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, was signed where the participants promised to help curb unemployment,” he said.