Calls for govt’s support to reduce 2.2 mmt of deficit
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
Fish farmers under the auspices of the Fisheries Cooperation Federation of Nigeria, FCFN, on Wednesday, expressed hope over the new frontier in Wuye Ultra Modern BOT Market, Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to meet fish demands and create employment.
Speaking during the opening of a section of the market to members of FCFN, the National President, Anthony Asgaye, who was represented by the Acting National Secretary FCFN, Usman Shettima, said the collaboration with the management of the market to bring the commodity closer to residents will meet their nutritional demands.
Shettima said: “We want to make Wuye Fish Market an international market because we want to push our business across the border. We are also happy that the management of the Wuye Market has keyed in the policy of the federal government in terms of diversifying the economy.
“We are looking at other avenues of generating revenue and we are very confident, the fishing sector will assist in that direction.
“There are opportunities now to produces more fish to bridge the 2.2 million metric tonnes deficit, to get employment for our teeming youths in his regards. Consequently, there will also be a kind of impact on the forex reserve in the country.
“Because what we are importing will augment the difference of about 2.2 million metric tonnes, it is kind of digging deep into the forex of the country. So, if are able to meet this gap, we will be saving a lot of forex for the country.
“But there are a lot of challenges consequently which include fish feed for farmers. The major cost in fish production is fish feed, which consists of about 70 per cent of total investment. So, if the government can assist us in that regard.
“Apart from fish feed, there are other inputs as far as having modern fishing practices, if we can equip our farmers with modern fish farming techniques, it will assist us in actually producing more.
He further stated that “We also, need budgetary allocation from the three tiers of government; local government state government and the federal government into the fishery sector.
“We are not so happy with what is been captured in the budget particularly, the fishing sector is not well represented.”
On the issue of inadequate data on fisheries, he said, “We don’t have enough data to tell us the type of fish, the quantity, locations of fish that are being produced. Apart from the data on fish itself, the data of fish farmers still inaccurate.
“We have 10 million persons involved in the fishing industry, directly or indirectly, but if you ask us about the list of these people, we may not have it. But we know based on practice because we are the people on the ground.”
According to him, the country was only producing about 1.2 million metric tons which is not up to half of the estimated consumption capacity of 3.3 million metric tonnes.
Also, the Director of Operations, Wuye Ultra Modern BOT Market, Balogun Oluwasegun, explained that opening a fish section is basically to bring the commodity nearer to most residents in Abuja and environs.
“We have offered them the free space for the period of six months so as to give them the opportunity to expand their market”, Oluwasegun stated.
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development pledged support for the farmers and their activities and promised that their issues will be addressed.
Speaking on this was a representative from the Federal Department of Fisheries, FMARD, John Onoubiona, who said the government would continue to assist fish production and ensure the deficit is covered.