The federal government called on Research Institutes in the country to lead the reform of the aquaculture sector to make it attractive to investors and small fish farm holders. The minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, made the call during a presentation on the prospect of Introducing Mari-culture into Nigeria by a delegation of Crown Flour Mills and Animal Feeds Production –a subsidiary of Olams International Ltd.
Lokpobiri said that the federal government has welcomed the plan of OLAM FIRM International to introduce Barramundi Culture (Sea Bassa) to Nigeria and pledged to embrace the initiative through partnership with the group as a way of boosting local fish production and attainment of national food security.
The delegation which was led by the vice president of Animal Feeds and Protein, Mr Asish Pende also included Professor Matthew Tan, a consultant working in the field with private fish farmers in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. While commending Olam farms for producing quality feeds at moderate prices and being the leading manufacturer of fish feed products in the country, he identified high cost of Feeds as the greatest challenge facing Fish growers.
The minister therefore called on the private sector to embrace transfer of the new technology as this will ultimately lead to increase in local production thereby reducing fish importation in the long run. In his contribution, the vice president of Animal Feeds and Protein, Mr Asish Pende noted that embracing culturing of Sea Bassa in the country will bring many advantages such as good yields, higher productivity, reasonable returns on investment, as well as transfer of relevant technology; assuring that studies have shown that Nigeria has abundant land, coastlines and water bodies suitable for commercial purposes
Also, Prof. Matthew Tan of the Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture, James Cook University, Australia pointed out that the Sea Bassa has the capacity to produce about one to two million eggs at a stretch with potential of its fingerlings reaching a harvest size of 350-500 gms in six to nine months. He also identified creation of new jobs, potential to earn foreign exchange from Barramundi culture as advantages derivable from cultivation of Sea Bassa, even as same technology is easy to adopt for the development of other varieties like Marine, Fresh WaterTilapia and Fresh Water Shrimps.
Director of Fisheries Department in the Ministry, Alhaji Muazu Mohammed said the ministry Is making tremendous efforts to increase fish production in the country but stressed the need to diversify production through research in other varieties of local species. He noted that with the transfer of Barramundi culture (Sea Bassa) to Nigeria, there will be a significant increase in the domestic supply of fish.