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FG pledges to support fish farmers to boost production

Fishers target increasing local production from 1.1 million metric tonnes to meet the annual national consumption requirement of 3.5 million metric tonnes.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr.Mohammad Abubakar, has pledged Federal Government’s assistance to the fishery value chain to boost production.

Mr Abubakar made the pledge when the leaders of the National Fish Association of Nigeria (NFAN) visited him on Monday in Abuja.

Describing fish as very important in the agricultural sector of the economy, he stressed the necessity to provide the needed intervention to promote fish production. “Of course fish is very important in the agricultural value chain and I am surprised that till date your association has not been benefiting anything, it shouldn’t be so,” Mr Abubakar said.

While promising to support in any way possible, to improve businesses across the value chain, the minister assured the association of the ministry’s intervention in subsidising grains used in producing fish feed.

“We have grains and I can include you in what we are going to do. It is there, it is just a matter of time for the release,’’ Mr Abubakar said.

He also promised to look into the demand of the association to explore possible areas of cooperation.

Earlier, the national president of the association, Ladan Aliyu, appealed to the ministry to extend its intervention programmes to the fishery sub-sector to boost fish production in the country.

Mr Aliyu, who lamented the long period of neglect of the fisheries industry, said that the quest for government intervention was prompted by the necessity to boost fish production to meet local demand and promote export.

“We are determined to accelerate local production from the current 1.1 million metric tonnes to meet the annual national consumption requirement of 3.5 million metric tonnes which will translate to self-sufficiency,” he said.

To achieve this, Mr Aliyu requested the establishment of an integrated fish processing centre, one each in the six geo-political zones as pilot to mitigate post-harvest losses.

He also stressed the need to create a special funding scheme for micro, small and medium enterprises in the fishery value chain as grant or loan with farmers’ friendly low interest rate.

“Others include setting up an inter – agency committee for the creation of one-stop-shop for export commodities’ certification to engender ease of doing business and for Nigeria’s products acceptance around the globe.

“And, to set up inter agency committee involving the association for budget tracking, monitoring and evaluation of specific projects and programmes for optimal performance in the industry,’’ Mr Aliyu said

He sought the federal government’s attention to provide adequate security for fisheries and aquaculture industry operators located along Nigeria’s coastal lines and Lake Chad Basin.

On his part, the National Secretary of NFAN, Chidike Ukoh, urged the federal government to set up an inter-ministerial committee to interface with the association to deal with identified challenges.

Mr Ukoh added that it was in order to ensure money and materials meant for development were actually deployed for improved production and accountability.

He expressed dismay over exclusion of the fish association from the export expansion grant disbursed by Nigerian Export Promotion Council.

Mr Ukoh said this was despite being certified qualified by the Commodities and Export Department in the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI).

“Towards the end of 2021, they started giving funds to associations to enable them do their programmes. Some of them we learned collected N10 million and some N15 million.

“But the Commodities and Export Department of the FMITI said we are entitled to such funding assistance.

“That money would have helped us do more programmes with regards to our annual work plan submitted to the FMITI,’’ he said.

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