Business is booming.

Fish farmers seek funding for research institutes

Mr Sejiro Oke-Tojinu, the President, Lagos State Catfish and Allied Association of Nigeria (LASCAFAN), has urged the Federal Government to fund research institutions across the country to develop new species of fish.

Oke-Tojinu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the country was not doing enough in the development of new species.

He said research institutions had failed the country following lack of new development of several indigenous species.

“That is where research has failed us; research institutions need to be funded adequately.

“Our research institutes should be put on their toes with a mandate given to them so that they can do much more.

“We have two known aquaculture species, catfish and tilapia. We have several indigenous species that have high commercial value.

“We need to support research and create aquaculture development centres across the country to enable the indigenous species to be developed,” he said.

The LASCAFAN president noted that the nation was yet to tap into the potential that  aquaculture can avail.

According to him, food is very important and God has so blessed us in this country that food shouldn’t be our problem if we really harness the opportunities and potential that we have in the agric sector generally.

“The agric sector is so broad that it kept so many other sectors under it and one of such sector is the fishery sector which is a very broad sector that has a big resources.

“Unfortunately, we are yet to tap into the potential that  aquaculture can avail us as a nation.

“World over, so much is done in aquaculture and Nigeria is way behind. The resources we have in terms of water resources, natural aquatic resources, some nations of the world don’t even have it.

“We have the resources in abundance, we gave it in excess; we have several dams that are lying fallow, we have lakes, several lagoons here and there and as well as  marine water laying fallow.

“We are not doing much and a lot is taken out of this waterbodies without replacement.

“We are beginning to have decline in our catches,” he said.

Oke-Tojinu called on the government to pay more attention to the sector by increasing funding, policy formulating and technology to reverse the trend.

According to him, aquaculture has huge potential for export if well harnessed.

He said this means, “we can do so much in aquaculture, much more for ourselves and then have excess for export.

“We will have protein intake for us as a nation and once we have good protein intake definitely, the health of the citizenry is going to improve.

“Part of the thing we have been advocating for is that the sector must be given more attention which we have not been enjoying as it should.

Oke-Tojinu, however, lauded the Federal Government for the establishment of the new Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy noting that it would make huge impact.

He said the association had always clamoured for a separate ministry to oversee the growth of the sector.

“Luckily one of what we have been advocating for is to have ministry of fisheries but now we have the ministries that will give us more attention, that is the new Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.

“As is it now, that means we are under two ministries, Ministries Agriculture and Food Security and Marine and Blue Economy.

“Now, our hopes are high to see how policies will favour the growth of aquaculture across the value chain.

“We believe that with this new ministry, there will be adequate attention given to the water aquatic resources, so we can make it more robust than it is at the moment.

“Across the value chains, everybody can be fine because with the challenges that we have, aside from research that is not adequately funded or not given the needed attention, we can do more with the little knowledge that we have in terms of producing more.

“If we produce more, it will open up more markets because a little of market linkages and value chain would be more viable in logistics, breeding and genetics, nutrition, value addition and processing.

“If all hands are on deck that means we can earn much more from fish that will in turn earn the country more through export,” he noted.

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