From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has disclosed that Nigeria is still far behind in meeting the set standards of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in fish consumption.
The ex-President made this disclosure at the commissioning of the Obasanjo Aquaculture Centre in Abeokuta.
Obasanjo, who spoke through his Consultant and Founder of Aquatic Hub Afrique Network, Steve Okeleji, hinted that his centre now has the capacity to produce about 3.5m pieces of fish annually.
‘Baba has given the task to solve the problem of food insecurity in Nigeria especially in the area of aquaculture where we know we are not doing very well with the quantity of fish been assumed to be consumed by Nigerians,’ Okeleji said.
‘The FAO standard is about 21kg and we are doing about 11kg per head in Nigeria which is way way below what is expected for us to consume.’
He explained further that ‘the idea for us is to be able to have a complete engagement of the aquaculture value chain and Baba invited me over to set up a real aquaculture project that has a component of the entire value chain of aquaculture and that’s what we have been able to do here.
‘We have been able to have a capacity of about 3.5 million piece of fish in a year with all our facilities from the hatchery to the earthen pond from the earthen pond to the cages and the cages are precision fish farming.
‘We also have a capacity of 4 tonnes of processed fish that we can also use to process fish in Nigeria and export. We have also come up with a model and see how we can also replace this model help solve the problem of food insecurity, problem of unemployment amongst the youths and that’s what we have been able to do over the period of 6 months that we started the project,’ he added.
The consultant expressed confidence that with pace things are going at the centre, ‘we are going to be the largest in the next three years. We have plans into expansion in some other areas within the South west region here and we also have plans to go into the North central for our expansion programme.
‘So, this can also help us achieve all that we want to achieve and also solve the problem of food insecurity in Nigeria especially in the area of aquaculture where we know we are not doing very well with the quantity of fish been assumed to be consumed by Nigerians.’
Speaking at the occasion, Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun, who described the project as ‘unbelievable’, said, however, that he was not surprised, having seen President Obasanjo achieve similar success when he initiated the Operation Feed the Nation about 45 years ago.
According to Governor Abiodun, ‘today, we have come to see what Baba’s is doing in aquaculture and I am not surprised by what has been achieved in six months. This is a testament to what he has been able to achieve in poultry, cassava which is given Ogun State an enviable heights in agriculture.’
The governor noted that by the efforts, Obasanjo has ‘continuously and tirelessly improving on reducing unemployment across state and even in Nigeria. We know that unemployment is a serious issue among our youth, so, you can imagine the level of support Baba is given in this regard.
‘It should be noted also, that it is helping in diversifying what we eat; as we are known for poultry and beef. But, we are talking about eating healthy fish now, all through the effort of our Baba, who is walking the talk even at his age.’