In a bid to be self-sufficient in fish production, the federal government has entered into a partnership with an international organization, WorldFish as part of efforts to meet the country’s fish production demand, which stands at 3.2 million Metric Tonnes.
LEADERSHIP reports that Nigeria currently produces 1.1 million Metric Tonnes of fish and fishery products with a deficit of 2.1 million MT.
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Heineken Lokpobiri stated at stakeholder’s workshop meeting, yesterday in Abuja that the international organization is expected to support the country to achieve its target on food and nutrition.
He said all fish importers have been directed to do backward integration through commercial aquaculture, adding that some of the compliant organisations have been certified by the ministry to commence fish and fishery products export to international markets.
The Minister, who acknowledged capacity of the country to produce fish to meet local fish demand, noted that the country still has huge gap on tilapia fish.
“Nigeria, as you all know is a large fish consuming nation and a net importer of fish and fishery products. Currently, our annual fish demand is in excess of 3.2 million MT while the production is about 1.1 million MT from all sources resulting in a demand-supply gap of about 2.1 million MT.
“Nigeria was importing over 2 million metric tons of fish in 2015 with 500, 000 metric tons local capacity but currently produce 1.1 million metric tons,” he added.
According to the minister, the nation largely produces catfish, which he considered as expensive, that is 80 per cent cat fish and 20 per cent Tilapia. He stressed increased production of different varieties.
He appealed to the international organization to help the country increase its local production on tilapia as it did to Ghana and Egypt.
“The FMARD have the mandate to harness potentials in the agriculture sector. So we will give you every support to succeed.”
Earlier, WorldFish director of International Partnership, David Sheurer said the partnership became imperative to build capacity of local fish farmers and meet nutritional needs.
The deputy director, Mr. Segun Babatunde called for the establishment of tilapia breeding centre to meet the deficit.
He said despite that the country is the second largest fish producer in Africa after Egypt, there is need for concerted effort to produce more of tilapia.