By Isaac Anumihe
The Federal Government, yesterday said it will stop issuing fish importation quota to importers as the venture is no longer sustainable.
Speaking when he met with the Ijebu Development Initiative on Poverty Reduction (IDIPR) in Abuja, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Heineken Lokpobiri, said that stopping the trade would help boost local production of fish and other aspects of agriculture in the country.
According to him, the current deficit in fish in Nigeria is over two million tonnes urging Nigerians to invest to boost fish production and create jobs in the sector.
“We realised that fish import is no more sustainable and what we did was to encourage those importing it to think of the backward integration by reducing the quota year by year in agreement with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“Very soon, we are not going to give quota for fish importation. We want everybody to set up fish farms, employ our people and create jobs for our people. When we came last two years, Nigeria was producing about 700,000 tonnes of fish but this has increased to about 1.2 million tonnes, which means there has been an increment of 400,000 tonnes.
“This increase represents more than 50 per cent of what we were producing,” he said.
Lokpobiri, however, commended the IDIPR for contributing to fish production in the country, while calling other states to emulate the community’s agricultural initiative. He said the government would soon complete and commission the fish feed mill located at Eriwe village farm in Ijebu community of Ogun.
Earlier, the Chairman, Board of Directors of the initiative, Olanipekun Alausa, listed some challenges hindering the agricultural initiative to include inadequate access to loans and lack of modern agricultural tools for mechanised farming.
Alausa, who said the initiative was currently supplying food items to nine local government areas in the state, appealed for more support from the Federal Government to enhance the initiative’s performance.