…Targets 10,000 jobs

Lagos State, COVID-19,

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

Lagos State Government, in collaboration with a private sector investor has concluded plans to establish the Lagos Aquaculture Centre of Excellence, L.A.C.E, in order to boost fish production in the state.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, disclosed this at the weekend during Year 2020 edition of the Lagos Seafood Festival held at the Muri Okunola Park, Victoria Island .

Sanwo-Olu, explained that the Centre is expected to generate at least 5,000 small holder fish farms which would in turn create about 1,000 indirect jobs during the construction phase and another 500 direct jobs opportunities for people that would be engaged at different phases of project.

He stressed that project includes: the establishment of a 50 million fish hatchery facility, projected 2000 tons per annum table sized fish production schedule, 24,000 tons per annum fish feed mill as well as a 20000 ton-per-annum fish and seafood processing centre. The governor who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, added that the present supply of fish and other seafood products in the State was insufficient to meet the fish and seafood demands of residents hence, the need to have a private sector driven aquaculture centre.

“We estimated the present supply of fish and other seafood at 174,553 tons per annum to be insufficient for Lagosians; therefore we have collaborated with a Private Sector Investor on the establishment of the Lagos Aquaculture Centre of Excellence to boost fish production.

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“This project includes: the establishment of a 50 million fish hatchery facility, projected 2000 tons per annum table sized fish production schedule, 24000 tons per annum fish feed mill and a 20000 tons per annum fish and seafood processing centre.

“The Aquaculture Centre of Excellence is expected to generate about 5000 smallholder fish farms which should create 1000 indirect jobs during the construction phase and 500 direct job opportunities for people that would be engaged at different phases of the project,” Sanwo-Olu asserted.

The governor  stressed that the state with a population of more than 22 million and a consumption demand for fish and other seafood of 374,000 tons annually and supply hovering around 155, 262 tons per annum, hence, “it is important that Lagosians key into and benefit from the value chain attached to the aquatic or fisheries business sector in order to fill the supply deficit.”

Sanwo-Olu noted that the Festival would be quite unique next year as the state government would be employing the use of the deep sea trawling in order to capture the big fishes in the deeper sea in Lagos.

“Next year by the grace of God, we will engage on the deep sea trawling that allows us to go inner and get the bigger fishes. That along with our other interventions would allow us to employ close to 10,000 youths in the five divisions of the State” he said.

The governor explained that an occasion such as the Lagos Seafood Festival is an opportunity for Lagosians to tap into the agriculture value chain in the fish and seafood sector particularly as the nation seeks to diversify its economy for the benefit of the people. He added that the Lagos Seafood Festival has become a pedestal for talented Lagosians to display their culinary skills in preparing salivating dishes with the abundant aquatic species from the environment.

“The reality is that Lagos has a population of more than 22 million with a consumption demand for fish and other seafood of 374,000 tons annually, meanwhile supply hovers near 155, 262 tons per annum.

“This supply deficit provides us with a viable investment opportunity for Lagosians to key into and benefit from the value chain attached to the aquatic or fisheries business sector.

“Fish or seafood is low in cholesterol when compared with beef consumption and they have a distinct taste that makes food more desirable and very palatable to the consumer. The Lagos Seafood Festival has become a pedestal for talented Lagosians to display their culinary skills in preparing salivating dishes with the abundant aquatic species from the environment.

“An occasion such as the Lagos Seafood Festival gives us the opportunity to tap into the agriculture value chain in the fish and seafood sector as we seek to diversify our economy for the benefit of our people,” the governor said.

According to him, year 2020 had presented everyone with challenges that brought out the depth and resilience of character as a people hence, the Seafood Festival was a fitting occasion to celebrate the resilient spirit of the people even as we all look forward to a prosperous and fulfilling Year 2021.

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Earlier, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya stressed that the contribution of fisheries value chain to the nation’s socio economic wealth could not be over emphasized particularly against the background of employment creation, provision of valuable animal protein, rural development and foreign exchange inflow through the export of shrimps, smoked fish and other fish products.

She explained that in 2019 alone, 5,000 tonnes of seafood valued at over N25 billion were exported by operators in Nigeria.

“It is in recognition of this fact, that the State Government is currently implementing various projects in the fisheries ecosystem that will drive increased food production and socio-economic transformation of the rural areas of the State.

“These projects include the establishment of Fish Farm Estate Projects, provision of fishing inputs to fishermen in the State; establishment of the Cage culture System, as well as the establishment of Farmers’ Mart to serve as marketing centre for agriculture products,” Olusanya stated.

The commissioner noted that the Festival had an array of stands ranging from fresh and processed seafood such as croaker, grunter, red snapper and tiger prawns, seafood culinary service providers and vendors of assorted beverages to a family fun park and kiddies area.

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