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NFAN says with border closure, we cannot meet local fish demand

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Mr Chidike Ukoh, the Publicity Secretary, National Fish Association of Nigeria (NFAN), has lamented that the current level of fish production in Nigeria cannot meet local demands.

He said the situation was worsened by the closure of the country’s land borders with neighbouring countries making importation difficult.

Ukoh told the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja on Wednesday that a lot had to be done to meet the huge fish demand in the country.

“Because we do not have enough production to cover domestic needs of our fish intake in the country.”

He stressed the need for government and other stakeholders to pay attention to fish processing and storage to ensure adequate preservation to avoid post harvest losses.

The publicity secretary said their plight as fish farmers was further worsened by the closure of the border and pledged that all hands must be on deck to explore possible avenues to bridge the gap.

“While commending the Federal Government for taking the bold step to close the country’s land borders with neighbouring countries, we call for necessary measures to be put in place to assist farmers, particularly fish farmers to meet the huge demand in fish production.

“We are a fish producing country but we have not come to the optimal level in terms of production, especially in terms of processing.

“We are a fish nation, yes, but most of the work we do is at the rudimentary level. We need to tally our operations with developed economies in the area of technical know-how.

“If we have the production of fish in our ponds and fresh waters, we need to make sure we do not have post harvest losses or fish glut even in the midst of scarcity because we do not have enough production to cover domestic need of our fish intake in the country.

“So, we need to safeguard the ones we produce and when we  meet in a forum like one recently held with the Turkish Government in Abuja, our partners come with their technical know-how in terms of fish production and preservation.

“If we get it right in such partnership, we can optimise our local production in terms of looking at best practices, processing, preservation and even marketing,” he said.

He said that due to poor storage facilities, fishes that ought to be preserved to serve Nigerians all year round were often wasted.

“Within the country, we have a large market but it is not everywhere in the country that we can have fresh fish to be served.

“So, if there are areas where we have glut and we have processing and storage facilities, we can move them to the areas that do not have those things.

“That is why technical partnership is necessary.”

On plans of the association to help reposition the sub-sector, Ukoh, said data capturing of fish farmers was ongoing to ascertain their strength across the country.

According to him, that will enable the association not only to identify the number of fish farmers in the country but also the quantity and quality of their production.

“What we have done so far is to get to those places where fish farmers are and encourage aquaculture because depletion of the ecological system in the Niger Delta is a problem to Nigerian fish farmers.

“So, if we encourage aquaculture it means they can also do fishery outside the mangrove forest and the rest of them.

“In that case, we need to know them to know their groups, put them in cooperatives and clusters where need be so that we will be able to harness their total production and take back to them, what they need to improve their services and operations.

“These are the things we have articulated and in the year 2020.”

Ukoh said that there would be a board of trustees meeting within the first quarter of 2020 to kick start all activities of the association for the year.

Edited by: Emmanuel Nwoye/Grace Yussuf

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