Nigeria currently imports 2.2 million tonnes of fish while it produces 1.1 million tonnes against the total demand of 3.6 million tonnes annually. This was disclosed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Permanent Secretary, Dr Ernest Umakhihe at the Independent Dialogue on the Transformation and Future of Aquatic Food Systems in Nigeria.
Dr Umakhihe said 10 million Nigerians are actively engaged in primary and secondary fisheries operations, and the contribution of fisheries to the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is about 4.5 per cent.
While noting that the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari is to grow Nigeria’s agricultural sector to achieve a hunger-free nation through agriculture that drives income growth, accelerates food production to address the food and nutritional security, he said the Ministry has played a key role in addressing aquatic food systems which include “backward integration policy” of Government to encourage fish importers to go into commercial aquaculture.
He said, “Fish is one of the cheapest and predominant sources of animal protein in Nigeria. It accounts for about 50 per cent of total animal protein consumed in Nigeria with per cent consumption of 17.5 Kg per person per year,”
In this regard, the total demand for fish is 3.6 million tons annually while Nigeria is producing 1.1million tons from all sources (Aquaculture, artisanal and Industrial sectors) leaving a deficit of about 2.5 million tons to be supplemented by importation”,
Speaking, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono said despite the potential impacts of the fisheries and aquaculture resources, the sector is however confronted with numerous challenges including the high cost of inputs and the use of unimproved breeds in aquaculture.
Nanono said the ministry is willing to engage and partner with all stakeholders for the development of the sector for economic development, wealth and job creation as well as food and nutrition security.
“The aim of the dialogue is, therefore, to deepen our understanding of these challenges while also proffering noteworthy recommendations that would leverage aquatic food systems capacity to contribute to the attainment of SDGs in Nigeria in the coming years”, he said.
In his remark, Country Director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Dr Michael Ojo said, Nigeria has seen significant growth in production over the past 18 years, but we still have a large supply deficit limiting access for consumers and potentially contributing to relatively high costs of aquatic foods.
Ojo said the factors that constrain the supply of safe and affordable fisheries products to meet consumer demand are multiple and reside at many different points in the supply chain.
“We have seen significant growth in production (10-fold over the 18 years from 2000), but we still have a large supply deficit limiting access for consumers and potentially contributing to relatively high costs of aquatic foods.
“Deficits in the availability of feed and fingerlings, poor or inadequate cold chain, poor harvesting and handling, financing, etc. are some of the documented bottlenecks along the supply chain that can compromise food safety, increase the price, and ultimately constrain distribution to consumers, particularly those in low-income markets.