By Godwin Oritse
DESPITE being the largest producer of fish in Africa, Nigeria currently records a 2.5million metirc tonnes of fish deficit, a situation that may have jeopardised protein intake amongst Nigerians.
Disclosing this in Lagos at the just concluded stockfish seminar organised by the Norwegian Seafood Council, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, said that the total fish production in Nigeria is about 1.123million metric tonnes while the annual consumption is about 3.6million metric tonnes.
Nanono also said that the total fish production including imports in Nigeria still does not satisfy the total fish demand.
On stockfish imports, Nanono stated that the volume of stockfish and stockfish heads imported from Norway in the country is only about 8,000 metric tonnes and this represents about 0.4 Percent of the total volume of fish imported into Nigeria.
Nanono who was represented by the Director of Fishery and Aquaculture Department, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Ime Umo, noted that the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a dislocation of the seafood value chain globally, a development that has led to the loss of nutrients and necessary protein intakes as well as essential food needs and income.
He said: “Fish is currently the cheapest form of protein for the average Nigerian. The total fish production in Nigeria is about 1.123million metric tonnes, while the annual consumption is about 3.6million metric tonnes. The total fish production including imports in Nigeria still does not satisfy the total fish demanded.
“The volume of stockfish and stockfish heads imported into from Norway into the country is only about 8,000metric tonnes and this represents about 0.4 percent of the total volume of fish imported into Nigeria.
“Despite the fact that the government needs to reduce the nation’s import bills, we need to take cognisance of the importance of cheap and affordable protein and other nutrients for the Nigerian population that could be derived from products supplied by other friendly trading partners to support our local production to fill the gap of our domestic demand and supply.
“While initiating policies and regulation, there is need to be aware of the reciprocity of trade amongst nation and the fact that we can also involve our trading partners and friendly nations like Norway to assist us with our backward integration process into commercial aquaculture and for Nigeria’s processed aquaculture product to gain access into international fish trade market.”
The minister also said that Nigeria is still open to investors who may be interested in investing in development of marine cage culture for fish production, an aspect that remains largely unexploited but has high potential return on investment.
He stated that investment in deep sea fishing and Tuna exploitation in Nigerian marine waters with opportunity of establishing processing and canning industry.
“Nigeria is the largest producer of catfish in Africa. However, the processing of this major fish product remains majorly limited to the use of smoking. Investment opportunities, therefore, abound. Investment in large scale production of Tilapia and shrimps in all Nigeria’s inland and marine waters, export opportunities are currently available for these products.”