A fish farmer, Chief Tayo Akingbolagun, says only intentional policy and collaboration between federal and state government and farmers will bridge fish deficit gap in the country.
Akingbolagun, former President Lagos State Catfish farmers and Allied Association of Nigeria (LASCAFAN), Ikorodu Chapter, Lagos.
He stressed that all hands must be on deck to bridge the deficit gap in fish production.
Akingbolagun enjoined government to support farmers with inputs to boost food production and security.
He said that the continuous increase in the price of feed was discouraging farmers, noting that many had left the business it was no longer profitable.
The Federal Government had last year raised concerns about the inability to meet up the 3.6 million metric tonnes demand for fish as the country only produces 1.2 million metric tonnes leaving a wide gap of 2.4 million metric tonnes.
He said bridging the gap of fish deficit had been on the front burner for sometime now without much achievement.
“As a former national president of LASCAFAN during the time of Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, the former Minister of Agriculture, we had useful discussion about bridging the gap.
“One of the things he did at that time to encourage farmers to produce was to ban catfish importation.
“The second thing was to ban tilapia importation so that we can stimulate the growth of tilapia in the country.
“At that time, yes of course, the policy did well because we found out that we had a sudden increase in production of catfish and this was due to the fact that we have the produce that arise today.
“Now that the price of feed continue to go up and we can not sell at affordable price, farmers have again left the business and they say it is not profitable,” he said.
Akingbolagun noted that fish farmers had started stimulating tilapia fish production due to support and training received from the Lagos Agro-Processing, Productivity, Enhancement and Livelihood Support (APPEALS) project.
According to him, tilapia fish is a very good fish and the best consuming fish in the world, thereby making it very important to bridging the deficit gap in fish value chain.
“Now, we are stimulating to produce tilapia, some of us have tried to do tilapia but no knowledge and people are scared of producing it.
“Tilapia is a very good fish, it is the best in the world and the best consuming fish in the world.
“We are starting to produce tilapia now. APPEALS project gave us a cage culture in Epe and we have tried two circles now, and it is doing very well.
“Many of our farmers are now going into cage culture to produce tilapia and it has resulted in increase in production and bridge the gap that we are looking at,” he said.
The fish farmer called for more support and empowerment for farmers to bridge the gap adding that farmers cannot do it alone.
“Bridging the gap is not a thing we can achieve in one or two years but it takes intentional policy for us to bridge the gap by encouraging farmers to produce, give them all the inputs and empowerment to do it.
“If government is folding arms and waiting or looking at farmers to do it, we cannot do it alone it has to be joint network,” he said.