By Asmau Ahmad
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Federal Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and the private sector, met on Monday, to ensure food sufficiency and economic growth through aquaculture.
The two-day National workshop holding in Abuja, is on; “Aquaculture Private Investment in Nigeria: Status and Way Forward for Aquaculture,” is aimed at improving the sector, and tackling the challenges confronting it.
Mrs Ana Menezes, Aquaculture Officer, FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Division, said nutrition remained a major challenge in Africa, as 41.9 per cent of the world population could not afford good nutrition.
“80.2 per cent in Africa, in Sub-Sahara Africa, about 60.5 per cent, and in Southern Africa, about 61.8 percent cannot afford good nutritional food.” Menezes said.
According to her, aquaculture is important in bridging the gap in the feeding of the high population, and also in contributing to the economic development of the country.
“The aim of the workshop was for us to think together as FAO, government of Nigeria, all the partners and the farmers, the financial institutions, the development partners and the associations, to think together to see where we are and what we need to do in terms of agriculture in Nigeria.”
She said Nigeria was the second biggest producer of aquaculture, with about 12.30 per cent, which showed that the country had the foundation to attain its goal of three per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2030.
According to her, aquatic foods is the only solution to hunger, poverty and Malnutrition, and Nigeria has been blessed with the enabling environment.
“All we need to do is go ahead in terms of proper planning for the agricultural sector.
“The aquatic food is one of the best place sectors to assist, not only in terms of food security, but also good dietary nutrition that comes from the fish,” Menezes said.
She said a lot of inter-disciplinary research had already been done that showed that Nigeria could do proper aquaculture and get out of the traditional thinking on food, and shift into a business-oriented activity because of its potentials.
“We should do aquaculture for the social purposes of food, security of employment etc, and every time we do that, we have the goal of economic growth and balance of trade,” she added.
Mr John Alu, Managing Director, Olofu Integrated Farms, said since the COVID-19 pandemic, the fisheries sector was adversely affected, as most of the farmers lost their capital, which affected fish production.
Alu said the cost of fish production had also become high, making many farmers to abandon the business, leading to the collapse of the sector in some parts of the country.
Mrs Francisca Ojamiren, of the Federal Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said there was need for an update on the the data on aquaculture sector as the data currently being quoted incorrect.
Ojamiren therefore, called for synergy between government, the private sector and fisheries department, in other to help address some of the challenges affecting development of the critical sector.