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Aquaculture as Road to Thriving Agriculture.

Written By Anambra Farmers on Sunday, 16 September 2012 | 02:47


The Nigerian economy is this irony. While most nations with the world carry out extensive researches to spot sectors that can drive his or her economic growth and deliver the particular lofty goal of poverty comfort, Nigeria appears lost in the maze of a lot of economic segments with overwhelming possibilities.

As a maritime nation with a vast population of over 160 million people as well as a coastline measuring approximately 853 kilometres, fish production as an enterprise possesses the proportions to contribute significantly to the particular agriculture sector.

Out of the 36 states in the country, nine are located along the particular coast, where the waves with the Atlantic Ocean embrace the land and over half of the nation’s landmass is suited to fish farming in artificial normal water bodies. But paradoxically, Nigeria spends over N100 billion annually in fish importation, to meet the enormous fish consumption deficit in the country.

With an annual fish demand in the country of about 2. 66 million tonnes, and a paltry domestic production of approximately 780, 000 tonnes, the demand-supply gap stands for a staggering 1. 8 million tonnes. It is very important note that it is the particular shortage in fish supply that's led to low annual fish consumption per capita of simply 7. 5 kilogrammes, against the 15 kilogrammes recommended through the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Consequently, if fish production is ramped in place in Nigeria, consumption of fish will increase and demand for the commodity will rise even higher thereby increasing the viability with the sector.

While this statistics given by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture could make most Nigerians lament, it tends to make serious minded entrepreneurs, mostly foreigners salivate in the untapped potential. Shortage to them represents enable you to produce, create jobs, generate income and make profits. Not so in Nigeria though, there is too much easy money in circulation.

Using the mind boggling figures being announced inside the petroleum subsidy probe and the colossal amounts said to accrue to pirates and elementary oil thieves, is it any wonder that purchasing fish ponds will hardly be the vocation of choice.

So Numerous Challenges

With a tonne of fish opting for about N50, 000, a potential 4 million tonnes every year production capacity in Nigeria means that the industry could simply be worth over N200 billion in the production point of the value chain. When the other points with the value chain are introduced, the particular sector could easily be really worth over $2 billion.

But it can be against the growth of the particular sector are rather onerous. First is the point that the fish dealers, who currently run the sector by taking foreign exchange abroad as well as bringing shiploads of fish into the country and fill up his or her cold stores for onward present to distributors and retailers, will fight towards last drop of their blood to find out that the local production connected with fish is never developed.

Just as many experts have in the cement industry, plant oil industry, fertiliser industry as well as petroleum refining sector where importers, because of their own selfish reasons, will do many techniques from bribing government officials to sponsoring downright piracy and terrorism, the people that currently rake in cheap millions annually, without any significant value addition, will not folds their arms and watch local production extinguish the desire for imports.

It would be expected these importers would capitalise on the opportunities and begin to plough the huge earnings from importation into local production, in order to position themselves as leaders with the sector, even when domestic production overruns importation. But it is usually false. Instead they use the massive wealth they have got acquired to fight the system and be sure policy makers don’t introduce import substitution initiatives. For them, it matters little if his or her efforts to sustain personal gains stand in the form of the development of agriculture.

This kind of aside, there are also other challenges that emasculate the growth of local fish production. Not enough technical capacity, lack of territory and capital follow closely powering. Fisheries production consultant, Tiamiyu Nurudeen, claimed: “Investment funding is one individuals major challenges. For instance, to increase production by 1, 000 tonnes of fish requires huge funds with a longer payback period.

“There is desire for long-term funds ranging from all 5 to seven years, cheap rates of less than 10 % for farmers in general, ” adding “I believe the NIRSAL initiative through the Central Bank of Nigeria will go quite a distance in closing the gap. That is whether it is properly implemented. Timing for application for the loan is an issue, as application for loans with Nigerian banks has a tendency to linger, which sometimes result in decrease in business deals, even when the particular loan is approved. ”

Another challenge is infrastructure - poor power supply in the country has damaged a lot of small businesses, because it increases the price tag of production astronomically.

Harnessing the particular Potential

Minister of Agriculture, Akinwunmi Adesina, believes the potential yield of Nigerian aquaculture resources is finished 4 million metric tonnes on a yearly basis, which could conveniently meet the particular national demand of 2. 66 million metric tonnes and generate significant export earnings.

According to him, Nigeria is proudly the the majority of resourceful and vibrant African nation inside the aquaculture industry and currently the best producer of catfish in Africa. “It is sad to be aware that we are still far behind within our efforts at adding value to your aquaculture products, thereby often bringing about artificial glut, low value connected with non–exportable aquaculture products. ”

He stressed the need in order to develop guidelines and policies that would build a favourable climate for more investment opportunities through the aquaculture value chain and as well provide safeguards against environmental as well as social risks.

With an estimated 10 million Nigerians actively engaged inside the upstream and downstream areas connected with fisheries operations in Nigeria, the contribution with the fisheries sub-sector to the nation’s economic climate is significant, ranging from employment creation towards provision of raw materials for your animal feed industry.

Indigenous Technological know-how Boom

As the potential with the fisheries sector continuously grows, an area aquaculture company, Dickem Aquatech, has unveiled the technology that can drastically reduce the current price of fish in the country by 54 per cent. This company said the technology will offer an affordable solution to the reliance on exorbitant imported fish feed.

The firm stressed that using the new technology, it is feasible and cheaper to locally create floating fish feed, nullifying the claims by unusual producers that floating fish feed can not be reproduced in Nigeria, a factor that's led to the heavy reliance on imported feed by fish farmers with its attendant high cost.

With the problems associated with obtaining quality fish feed accounting for around 80 per cent of the down sides faced by fish farmers in the country, the innovation may be the inflection point for your sector booming with potential. The new and cost efficient technology is made up of hammer mill, mixer, extruder and dryer with a production capacity of 150kg or 10 bags by the hour which is easy to operate and the technology is most suitable intended for small and medium entrepreneurs since it was designed with them planned.

Feed mills in the country set up similar feed producing mills at least cost of N200 million, but the new technology is designed in such a way that every farm can have its very own fish mill at minimum price tag far cheaper than N200 million sufficient reason for very little space required. On this technology, the claim by foreign companies that floating fish protein meal technology can not be made in Nigeria is outright a myth which holds not any truth. “While a 15kg brought in bag of feed costs around N5, 000 in the marketplace, it costs about N1, 400 to create the same on the farm with all the Dickem technology, which is also energy efficient and the majority economical especially given the improvement inside the power sector, ” the corporation said.

Governments at different levels must take steps to assist farmers in the region of acquiring the technology so as to create more employment and boost local capacity inside the sector so that farmers can meet local demand as well as export. If the Agricultural Change Agenda, which has gained much prominence is to be seen as a serious venture of government and not simply another cliché introduced to supply the impression that the minister is making efforts, then innovations like these have to be explored and used to bring the much need boost to fish production and the Nigerian economy.
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