Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has said that Nigeria spends an estimated N125.38 billion on fish importation annually.
Dr. Adesina who made this known yesterday at a stakeholder’s interactive session on repositioning the fishery sector in Abuja, said that the situation is totally unacceptable.
The Minister described fishery as an important sector, adding that it contributes four percent to the GDP.
He further explained that total demand for fish in Nigeria is 2.7 million MT but Nigeria is producing about 800,000 MT locally with the deficit of 1.9 million MT which is met by imports.
The minister therefore said that for Nigeria to be self-sufficient in fish production, it will promote greater investments in aquaculture, improve artisanal, inland and marine fisheries.
He also said that with the transformation going on in the fish sub sector, it is expected that within four years, one million MT would be added to the current domestic production thereby bringing the whole to 67 per cent self-sufficiency.
Dr. Adesina revealed that the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme now includes subsidies for producers of fish.
He said “in 2013, a total of 3.6 million juveniles, 36,000 bags of 15kg of feed and 200 water testing kits were provided to fishermen in 10 states, at a total cost of N1.5 billion.
Dr. Adesina further highlighted some illegalities in fish importation and production, stressing that continued corruption in fish importation had left Nigeria a dumping ground for fish.
“Fish importers are cheating and are not paying the amounts due to government for licence. Even more worrisome is that there is no cold storage capacity in the country to keep 5.9 MT of fish”
“So what is being imported and declared as fish? Allegations are rife of dubiousness among importers who declare fish for imports, but are actually importing other things, including cars”, the Minister said.
Speaking on the ban on fish importation, Dr. Adesina said the government had not banned the import of fish.
“It is important to make it clear that the government has not banned the import of fish, as it being misinterpreted by unscrupulous fish importers”.
“The Federal Government had at no time placed a whole-scale ban on the importation of frozen fish into the country. The only fish being strictly regulated and put under prohibition from being imported without control is farmed fish,” the minister asserted.