Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday lamented the rising prices of diesel, feed and the exchange rate crisis, saying they are killing fish farming in Nigeria. According to the farmer, the high price of diesel is already taking its toll on his agribusiness, saying he is “already sweating”. The former Military Head of State said this during the SouthWest Fish Farmers’ Congress at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta. Obasanjo fears the rise in the cost of diesel and rising prices of fish feeds will run Nigerian fish farmers out of business unless they come together to agree on sustainable prices that could be adopted to keep them in business. According to him, farmers can no longer produce at the mercy of the buyers who buy fish for whatever amount that suited them without taking into account the effects of the economic issues on the production of such fish.
He said with the current price of diesel at #800 per litre, the production of a kilogram of fish is N1, 400, adding that to make a very marginal profit, the farmers can’t sell less than N1, 500 as anything short of that amounts to “outright loss.” Obasanjo said: “The price of diesel has gone high because the management of this country is not what it should be. And it is as simple as that.
Then, what will happen is that particularly those of us who have to use a bit of diesel in producing fish, we will completely go bankrupt, and when that happens, Nigerians will still have to eat fish. “Fish production will be out of reach and then, people will be producing fish outside Nigeria and dumping it here. And you will go jobless, poor and indigent. So, what do we have to do? To come together…we want to sustain fish production and we must be able to take care of those who are going to eat and those of us who are producing.” Turning to his fellow farmers, he asked: “How many of you are using diesel in your production? Because I use diesel and I’m already sweating.
I’m already sweating.” The President of South- West Fish Farmers Price Sustainability Group, Amo Tunbosun Amo said the country consumes around 3.6 million metric tonnes of fish annually but lamented that it only produces 1.12 million tonnes, leaving a balance of 2.6 million tonnes to be imported. Amo said one of the major challenges confronting fish farmers is the continued increase in the prices of inputs in the production of fish and majorly feeds and the refusal of the buyers to buy the fish at a commensurate price. The convener of the congress Steve Okeleji said they decided to come together to rescue the industry.