The Federal Government has taken steps towards reduction of fish importation into the country with a view to developing the fisheries industry locally.
This, it did by directing all importers to bring their investment back and promote commercial aquaculture in the country.
Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, disclosed these in Abuja recently at the Stakeholders Workshop on the WorldFish Nigeria Research Programme.
Lokpobiri, who gave assurance that government was prepared to support the WorldFish Centre in Nigeria, also noted that such commitment can only be given to investors when they comply with the present administration’s policy of “backward integration”.
The minister also stated that the ministry was working towards bridging the existing gap between the annual national fish demand, which is in the excess of 3.2 million metric tonnes, and the local production that is presently at 1.1 million metric tonnes.
He said that some of the fish importers who complied with the government’s directives have already been duly certified to export fish to International market.
According to him, the government had already approved special incentives for investors who intend to go into deep sea fisheries exploitation.
“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has directed all fish importers to go into backward integration through commercial aquaculture( pond and cage culture),” he said.
“Some of the companies, which have complied have been duly certified and can now export their fish and fishery products including shrimps to the international market.
“In addition, letters of assurance are given to investors that intend to go into deep sea fisheries exploitation for tuna and other highly valued fish for export.”
Also speaking at the workshop, the WorldFish International Partnership and Program Delivery, Mr. David Shearer said that the organisation was bringing the WorldFish Centre to Nigeria to support the efforts towards food and nutrition security drive of the government.
Shearer, who stated that two billion people worldwide suffer from hidden hunger or micronutrient deficiencies caused be not eating a diverse diet, also noted that the malnutrition challenge in the country can be tackled with a robust fishery industry.
He added that WorldFish centre was coming to Nigeria, considering the fact that the country was the largest population in Africa, and needs to upscale its fisheries, both for commercial purpose and for household needs.
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