The Federal Government on Tuesday inaugurated the executive officers of the National Fish Association of Nigeria as part of efforts to reposition the fish sub-sector to meet increasing local demand.
Edet Akpan, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, inaugurated the officers in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said the inauguration was part of the Federal Government’s effort to encourage farmers and other stakeholders in its diversification programme.
The Permanent Secretary said the coming together of all stakeholders in the fish value chain would enable them work in synergy with a common interest to boost production.
He said: “The fact that they have put themselves together, they can now speak with a voice, they can plan their operations from all parts of the country.
“They are all together. With the target, the objective they are pursuing, I am sure the national production of fish will not only increase, the quality and export value will also increase.”
Akpan said the ministry had always being on ground to support commodity associations and would not deviate from the norm.
According to him, we give a lot of support like skills acquisition and training in various aspects of their operations.
He added: “We also introduce them to different organisations like the Bank of Industry, and then SMEDAN is also helping them in many ways through education and organising them in such a way that they have become very formidable.”
The President of NFAN, Dr Gabriel Ogunsanya, said the inauguration had added impetus to the association’s mandate to not only feed Nigerians but work hard to meet the export demand of fish.
He noted that with over five million members across the country, the association was ready to storm the markets with different species of fish to meet both local and international demands.
He also noted that the association was already working to train stakeholders, particularly youths on the use of modern technology to boost fish production.
According to him, the effort will not only increase yield but boost employment opportunity, particularly for the teeming youths.
He said: “We want to use fish industry to generate employment for the youth. I will be canvassing for advanced fishing policy for Nigeria. I saw what Denmark is doing with regard to using technology.
“If we can transfer all these knowledge to our youth, our youth will not have the problem of unemployment.
“We have trained over 6,000 youths. We applied to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to send some experts to join our own experts to train them.”
On border closure, the president said it was a laudable development, saying the association was not resting on its oars in taking advantage of the closure to boost production.
He said: “We will introduce more species of fish and train our youths on how they can culture them. Formerly, we are culturing catfish.
“We want to go into other species, tilapia and other species of fish. This will generate more funds for us, and we will have enough for local consumption and export.”
He assured that with the inauguration, the association was better positioned to fight illegal fishing on Nigerian waters.
Ogunsanya said: “We will not allow illegal fishing. Some countries come to our coast to steal our fish. We will do all within our powers, work with law enforcement agencies to avoid illegal fishing.”
A member of the Board of Trustees and former lawmaker, Senator Maina Lawan, said he would not hesitate to share his wealth of experience in order to move the sub sector to the next level.
Lawan, also a former Borno State Governor, said there were several prospects in the fish subsector that would help improve revenue generation for the country.
He said: “I am a practising farmer. I am deeply into fish farming, aside that, I come from Naha, Borno State.
“There are lots of window for employment. There is a lot of window for people to engage themselves. The prospect of fish farming and the value chain that go with it has no limitations.
“As a member of the board of trustees, my practical experience and the fact that I have carried on very successfully on a large scale commercial fish farming, I believe that a lot of input can be made.
“We can really do a lot to help our teeming youths find places without roaming the street looking for employment in government offices.”
On the border closure, he said, “I know that the border closure is biting hard on lot of aspects of our daily lives but there are also higher patriotic callings if you look at the overall price we are made to pay.”
The Publicity Secretary of NFAN, Chidike Ukoh, said the association was embarking on data capturing of fish farmers across the country, particularly those yet to be captured, as part of its activities to reposition the sub sector.
He said: “What the association is set out to do is to bring together all fish and aquaculture associations and groups that have been operating for over 100 years in this country but operating with different format and different structures.
“We have those in the academia, the industrialists, farmers, fish trollers and fish farmers, who are within the borders of Nigeria, using the lakes, using the rivers and doing what we called pond fish farming.
“The reason we have come together is to ensure we articulate all the views and interest of all the operators in the industry.
“So that if there are assistance from the government and donor agencies we will be able to channel them to the farmers.
“To determine the real farmers and stakeholders, we are embarking on data capturing of fish farmers, operators and stakeholders within the country.”