The Federal Government has said it will stop issuing fish importation quota to importers as the venture is no longer sustainable. Stopping the trade would help boost local production of fish and other aspects of agriculture in the country. State Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, said this during a meeting with the Ijebu Development Initiative on Poverty Reduction (IDIPR) in Abuja on Tuesday.
Lokpobiri stated further that the current fish deficit in Nigeria is over two million tonnes and urged citizens to invest to boost fish production and create jobs in the sector. “We realised that fish import is no more sustainable and what we did was to encourage those that import it to think of the backward integration by reducing the quota year by year in agreement with the CBN.
“Very soon, we are not going to give quota for fish importation. We want everybody to set up their fish farms, employ our people and create jobs for our people.
“When we came last two years, Nigeria was producing about 700,000 tonnes of fish but this has increased to about 1.2 million tonnes which means that there has been an increment of 400 tonnes.
“This increase represents more than 50 per cent of what we were producing’’.
Lokpobiri, said the government would soon complete and commission the fish feed mill located at Eriwe village farm in Ijebu community of Ogun. Quoting the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Minister said that Ijebu community had the highest number of fish clusters in the world.
The Board Chairman of the Initiative, Prof. Olanipekun Alausa, listed some challenges hindering the agricultural initiative to include inadequate access to loans and lack of modern agricultural tools for mechanised farming. He appealed for more support from the Federal Government to enhance the initiative’s performance.