The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has disclosed that agricultural products valued at N532.4 billion were imported into the country in Q4’20. The figure showed an increase of 5.75 per cent compared to N503.4 billion in Q3’20. A breakdown by NBS also revealed that the major agriculture imports included durum wheat (not in seeds) worth N62.9 billion imported from Russia, Lithuania (N55.3 billion), the United States (N54.6 billion) and Canada (N51.8 billion).
Also, herrings (fish) valued at N14.8 billion were imported from The Netherlands, while Russia accounted for N6.62 billion worth of the product. Palm oil worth N22 billion was imported from Malaysia. While speaking on the Federal Government’s plans to ban the importation of fish into the country, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, revealed that there were so many resources in Nigeria, hence the need to ensure that all the food imported are produced locally in line with the current administration’s agenda.
The agric minister explained that despite being the largest producer of fish in Africa, Nigeria currently records a 2.5 million metirc tonnes of fish deficit, a situation that may have jeopardised protein intake amongst Nigerians. Nanono put the total fish production in Nigeria at about 1.123 million metric tonnes, while the annual consumption is about 3.6 million metric tonnes. He also said that the total fish production, including imports, still did not satisfy the total demand in Nigeria. On stockfish import, the agric minister stated that the volume of stockfish and stockfish heads imported from Norway was only about 8,000 metric tonnes, representing about 0.4 per cent of the total volume of fish imported into Nigeria. Nanono stressed further that the effect of COVID-19 created a dislocation of the seafood value chain globally, a development that has led to loss of nutrients and necessary protein intake as well as essential food needs and income. He said: “Fish is currently the cheapest form of protein for the average Nigerian.
The total fish production in Nigeria is about 1.123 million metric tonnes, while the annual consumption is about 3.6 million metric tonnes. The total fish production including imports in Nigeria still does not satisfy the total fish demanded.
“The volume of stockfish and stockfish heads imported from Norway into the country is only about 8,000 metric tonnes and this represents about 0.4 per cent of the total volume of fish imported into Nigeria. “Despite the fact that government needs to reduce the nation’s import bills, we need to take cognisance of the importance of cheap and affordable protein and other nutrients for the Nigerian population that could be derived from products supplied by other friendly trading partners to support our local production to fill the gap of our domestic demand and supply. “While initiating policies and regulation, there is need to be aware of the reciprocity of trade amongst nation and the fact that we can also involve our trading partners and friendly nations like Norway to assist us with our backward integration process into commercial aquaculture and for Nigeria’s processed aquaculture product to gain access into international fish trade market. The agric minister also said that Nigeria was still open to investors who may be interested in the development of marine cage culture for fish production, an aspect that remains largely unexploited, but has high potential return on investment. Nanono said: “Nigeria is the largest producer of catfish in Africa. However, the processing of this major fish product remains majorly limited to the use of smoking. Investment opportunities, therefore, abound. Investment in large scale production of tilapia and shrimps in all Nigeria’s inland and marine waters, export opportunities are currently available for these products.”