The Federal Government has certified some companies to start exporting fishery products to the international market following accelerated growth of the sub sector in the international communities.
Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Sen Heineken Lokpobiri, disclosed this in his keynote address which he delivered at the ‘2 Day Stakeholders Workshop on the WorldFish Nigeria Research Programme’ ongoing in Abuja.
After noting that it is welcomed development in the aquaculture and fishery industry, he established that international donors, government officials, regional directors and national research organizations would meet to deliberate on steps towards the establishment of WorldFish Nigeria Research Programme.
He said: “Nigeria as you know is a large fish consuming nation and a net importer of fish and fisheries products. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have directed all fish importers to go into backward integration through commercial aquaculture (pond and cage culture).
“Some of the companies which have compiled have been duly certified and can now export their fish and fishery products including shrimps to the international market. In addition, Letters of Assurance are given to investors that intend to go into deep sea fisheries exploitation for tuna and other highly valued fish for export.”
The Minister promised that all that was need by the WorldFish Nigeria Research Programme who be provided. However, he expressed worry following the huge fish supply deficit of 2.1 million metric tonnes.
“Currently, annually our national demand is in excess of 3.2 million metric tonnes while the production is about 1.1 million metric tonnes from all sources resulting in a demand-supply gap of about 2.1 million metric tonnes.
“The vision of the present administration is to grow Nigeria’s aquaculture subsector including fisheries and aquaculture to achieve a hunger-free nation through aquaculture that drives income, growth, accelerate achievement of food and nutrition security, generate employment and create wealth for millions of practitioners in the industry”, he said.
In his earlier remarks, Director, International Partnership, WorldFish, David Shearer, said the organization gives priority to delivering aquaculture and fisheries solution.
“WorldFish is a global organization with head office in Malaysia. The vision is to be partnership of choice; delivering aquaculture and fisheries solution, delivering focus outcome. The nutrition delivering agenda is important in Africa. We do ensure fish on the table and also for policy investment direction.
“Fish is significantly recognized globally. 800 million people depend on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihood. It got a positive contribution it can make in terms of nutrition and food security. Fish is a very important part of nutritional security from micronutrient point of food”, he stated.
Also speaking was the Country Director, Egypt and Nigeria, WorldFish, Dr Harrison Karisa, was hopeful that the programme will bring the expected change in the aquaculture and fisheries industry in Nigeria.
“The workshop is expected to develop a roadmap for the establishment of the WorldFish Nigeria Country research programme and set up the research agenda for the intervening period. The workshop will review the ongoing activities and align them with the broader WorldFish strategy and Fish CRP.
“The development of the research programme in Nigeria by WorldFish is geared towards fostering strong partnerships and developing and appropriate level of engagement through establishment of offices, having appropriate staff presence, and determination of an appropriate research agenda.
“Africa lacks behind the world in fish consumption, consuming about 10kg per person per year. Africa will need to double its fish production from both fisheries and aquaculture by 2030 to cater for present consumption levels”, he said.