Nigeria fisheries sector is bedeviled with lots of challenges, one of which is adopting new methods of fish management.
However, this will be a thing of the past with the development of Worldfish Research Programme in Nigeria, JOHN OBA, writes.
The fisheries and aquaculture subsector across the world is said to contribute to the livelihood of over 800 million which include women, men, and youth, and is reputed to be the fastest growing source of animal food globally providing 3.
2 billion people with 20 per cent of their animal protein.
And according to report, it is the cheapest and most accessible source of animal food for poor consumers in low-income foo ddeficit countries.
In the fisheries sector in developing countries, of the 97 per cent, 90 per cent of people are engaged in small scale fisheries.
And nutritionists have revealed that fish consumption has a criticsl role to play in boosting dietary diversity and reducing the number of people who suffer from micronutrinent deficiencies, with lifelong benefits for health and productivity.
Nigerians are undeniably among the 800 million that thesector contributes to their livelihood, since it is a large fish consuming nation and a net importer of fish and fisheries products.
Currently, Nigeria annual national fish demand according to National Bureau of Statistics is in excess of 3.
2 million metric tons while the production despite all the efforts of West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) is about 1.
1 million metrict tons from all sources resulting in a demand- supply gap of about 2.
1 million metric tonnes that is usually arguemented with importation.
The vision of the current administration despite all the investment in the sector by the previous administration according to the minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lopkobiri, is to grow Nigeria’s agricultural sector including fisheries and aquaculture to achieve a hunger free country through agriculture that drives income growth, accelerated achievement of food and nutrition security, generate employment and create wealth for millions of practitioners in the industry.
“The ministry has directed all fish importers to go into backward integration through commercial aquaculture, that is pond and cage culture.
Some of the companies which have complied 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,” he said.
Stakeholders in the sector, believes that inadequate research extension support to aquaculture and fish farming, poor access to information on improved production technologies are part of challenges plaguing the sector.
They also expressed worry that the current administration budgetary allocation of less than 2 per cent to the entire agricultural sector can never support the achievement of the government’s vision or reduced the demand-supply gap of about 2.
1 metric to the bearest minimum, hence the farry of WorldFish Research programme with its a 2017-2022 programme that prioritise the expansion of research programmes to improve the fisheries and aquaculture sector is applauded as a welcome development.
WorldFish, an international, nonprofit research organization that strives to strengthen livelihoods and enhance food and nutrition security by improving fisheries and aquaculture with anticipated impact according to the director, International Partnership, Worldfish, Mr David Shearer, will empower 5 million fish producers households, adopt improved breeds, feeds, fish health and best management practices, empower 4.
7 million more women of reproductive age consuming an adequate number of food groups, assist 3.
5 million people to exit poverty through gender inclusive livelihood improvement and produce 4.
8 million tons of fish farmed annually with improved climate resilience and reduced environmental impact within the next five years.
In support of the development of WorldFish country research programme in Nigeria, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development co-hosted a two day stakeholders workshop that brought together diverse group of participants from the aquaculture and fi sheries industry recently who deliberated on steps towards establishment of WorldFish Nigeria programmes The Worldfish Nigeria and Egypt, Country director, Dr. Harrison Karisa, said the main objective of the workshop is to bring together different stakeholders to deliberate on steps towards establishment of Worldfi sh Nigeria programmes.
He said the stakeholders during the workshop were expected to achieve consensus on priority areas for resesrch, discussed regional approach to programmes implementation including funding mechanisms and recommend programme based approach and modalities for the establishment of Worldfi sh Nigeria programme.
The stakeholders at the workshop however called for farmers lead reseach for sustenance and promotion of fi sheries development in the country.
The director, Fisheries and Aquaculture, in the ministry, Mr. Mu’azu Mohammed, who was represented by a deputy director in the department Mr Segun Babalola, said the coming of Worldfi sh marks the much awaited diversifi cation of the aquaculture industry to include the culture of Tilapias.
“The experience of Ghana and Egypt in the Tilapia value chain and lessons learnt should drive the development of the Tilapia induatry in Nigeria and hopefully develop an indigineous Tilapia strain as soon as practicable,” he said.
WAAP coordinating director, Dr. James Apochi who expressed readiness to collaborate with WorldFish said WAAPP through the NCoS generated and released a total of eleven technologies in the area of aquaculture.
Among these technologies are techniques for production of all-male tilapia species which can contribute 30 per cent to the current annual fi sh production in the country and techniques for the production of all-year round fingerlings of Clarias gariepinus and Heterobranchus longifilis which can increase the current fingerling production by 50 per cent.
“The project also witness the development of Improved progenies of Clariid species developed from intra-specific hybridization of germplasms for multiplication.
These strains of fish have shown an average growth rate of more than 40% compared to current strains of less than 20%.
We also have Clupeid and lantern fish meal developed.
Production of local made fishmeal from these two fisheries resources can reduce fishmeal importation by 50% and consequently reduce fish production cost by 30%.
“Fish smoking kiln will eliminate fish losses and increase farmers’ income by 70%, fish packaging materials which shown significant improvement in shelf life of dried fish by reducing post harvest losses and increases farmers’ profitability by 40%,” he explained.
He said to increase food production, nutrition and boost food security in Nigeria, WAAPP-Nigeria supported the production of 16,500,000 improved fingerlings.
“All were given out to farmers and private commercial farms for rearing to table sizes.
The project produced 25,000 Brood stocks to support commercial farms to improve their breeding stock for subsequent production of fast growing fingerlings.
” Further, he revealed that four improved technologies in aquaculture developed in Nigeria were demonstrated and released in some ECOWAS Countries in an efforts to strengthened regional integration on technology development and adoption, four improved technologies These, according to Apochi includes improved fish fi ngerlings of Heterobranchus and Clarias species in Mali and Republic of Benin, fish feed in Republic of Benin and Senega, smoking kilns in Gambia, Cote d’ivoire and Republic of Benin; Capacity building of Technical Scientists from ISRA/CRODT, Senegal in technique for all-male Tilapia production.
“The direct project beneficiaries stood at 2,296,413 with 38% being females.
Significant numbers of these beneficiaries are from aquaculture value chain.
The beneficiaries got support from WAAPP-Nigeria in areas of funding, capacity building and input support.
We trained 14 PhD, 17 M.Sc. 12 Certificate courses, 34 Short term and 500 entrepreneurs.
The project successfully achieved 150% of theset target beneficiaries.
“WAAPP-Nigeria couldn’t have achieved these results without active and positive collaborations with relevant stakeholders in aquaculture value chain, therefore WAAPP-Nigeria is keen to welcome fruitful collaborations with Worldfish in its effort to establish Worldfish Nigeria Programme,” he assured.