Fish farmers in Nigeria

 By Godwin Oritse

THE leadership of the Akwa Ibom Fisheries Association has decried the loss of over N100 billion to flood, increasing cost of fish feeds and lack of electricity, saying that the continued neglect of the fish farming sector may lead to loss of jobs.

In a statement, the group’s President, Mr. Okon Amah, said that before the advent of the COVID 19 pandemic, it became increasingly difficult to do fish farming business in Nigeria adding that insecurity, irregular power supply, increase in cost of feed, and other farming inputs have closed down so many farms.

Amah also said that thousands of jobs are currently at risk as the sector continues to dwindle.

He said: “The pandemic made it worse and then came the flood, fish farmers lost over 100billion naira to the ravaging flood. Yet we get nothing from the government to cushion the effects.

“Fish farming over the years has been a source of employment.  For instance the Uteh cluster I visited in Benin has over 800 fish farmers with double of that as workers excluding the indirect jobs it has provided within that region put at 4000.

“That’s just a cluster among many others scattered across the country. Imagine if such close down, that’s an addition to the existing problem of high unemployment rate in Nigeria.

“Fish farmers have been providing basic amenities like power, road, water, etc for themselves and we are tired. We now have to contend with the ever increasing cost of production, especially fish feed. This is worrisome considering that everyone eats fish in Nigeria and beyond.

“Recently, the roadmap for food security was released in United Nation Food Summit in Italy, by the ministry of agriculture, and surprisingly Aquaculture and fisheries were missing. Does it mean that the Federal government has no single plan for an industry generating billions for other countries? Does it mean that we have no agenda for the blue economy?

“We are tired of the politics of the federal ministry of agriculture that usually exclude Aquaculture and fisheries from their immediate attention. This needs a priority otherwise the adverse effects are going to be alarming”.

Similarly, the Executive Secretary of the Fisheries Cooperatives of Nigeria, Captain Oladele Robinson said that the fish farming and actual fishing sectors generate over five million director jobs while another 15 million jobs are also indirectly generated because of the processors and seller and others in the value chain.

Robinson also said that the group still does not understand why the government has decided to neglect such a sector.

He also disclosed the sector was not captured in the recently released Federal Government Fishery agenda adding that the Federal Department of Fisheries has not helped in any way to push the case of the sector.

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