From Magnus Eze, Abuja
The Federal Government has disclosed that Nigeria is presently the largest producer of catfish in Africa following the introduction of import reduction and backward integration policy to boost local fish production and reduce its importation.
Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, stated this during the Think Tank Meeting on Ornamental Fish Trade and Intra-Regional Fish Trade organised by AU-IBAR, NEPAD Agency and World Fish Centre in Abuja.
Lokpobiri said, “before the present administration, Nigeria was spending about $900 million annually on the importation of fish, which earned the country the unenviable position as Africa’s largest importer of fish but with the new policy on import reduction and backward integration, Nigeria became the largest producer of catfish in Africa.”
The Minister lauded the recent formation of the African Network of Women Fish Processors and Traders as a platform for women who constitute the major players in fish post-harvest handling and marketing in Africa and pledged that Nigeria would continue to assist in the programmes and activities of bodies like the Association of Ornamental Fish Farmers and Exporters of Nigeria (ADFFEN), Catfish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFAN), among others.
In his remarks, the African Union (AU) representative, Dr. Simplice Nouala, said Africa is endowed with rich fisheries resources including immense potential for contributing significantly to the socio-economic growth, rural development and improving livelihoods of its citizens.
He explained that the potential can be achieved through the fisheries and aquaculture sector, which includes ornamental.