Ef­fec­tive poli­cies needed to tackle Nige­ria’s over­size fish de­mand

Business a.m. - - COMMODITIES & AGRICULTURE - Sto­ries Temi­tayo Aiyetoto

FISH­ERIES AND AQUA­CUL­TURE glob­ally con­trib­ute to the liveli­hoods of 800 mil­lion peo­ple and pro­vide 3.2 bil­lion peo­ple with 20 per­cent of their an­i­mal pro­tein. Fish is a rich source of mi­cronu­tri­ents and es­sen­tial fatty acids, which are crit­i­cal to cog­ni­tive and phys­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. In low-in­come coun­tries, fish is of­ten the cheap­est and most ac­ces­si­ble an­i­mal-source food.

And to meet fu­ture de­mand for fish, par­tic­u­larly in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, pro­duc­tion will need to dou­ble by 2030, ac­cord­ing to global re­search part­ner­ship for a food se­cure fu­ture. There­fore, the scale of this chal­lenge re­quires re­search in­no­va­tions across the whole spec­trum of aqua­cul­ture and fish­eries pro­duc­tion sys­tems and value chains.

But lo­cally, stake­hold­ers do not see Nige­ria max­i­miz­ing the full po­ten­tial of the fish in­dus­try or align­ing ef­forts to pre­pare for this fu­ture de­mand.

In March, the govern­ment ac­knowl­edged that a sup­ply gap of about 2.1 mil­lion met­ric tonnes of fish ex­ists along­side an annual na­tional fish de­mand of 3.2 mil­lion met­ric tonnes. The na­tional pro­duc­tion is pegged at 1.1mil­lion met­ric tonnes from all sources, in­clud­ing aqua­cul­ture, ar­ti­sanal and in­dus­trial fish­ing sec­tors, in­duc­ing the sup­ply short­fall of 2.1 mil­lion met­ric tonnes that opens the coun­try to re­liance on im­por­ta­tion. Such im­por­ta­tion is what Nige­ria Bureau of Sta­tis­tics at­tributes to 13.31 per­cent growth in food in­fla­tion in Septem­ber from 13.16 in Au­gust.

This gap re­mains a source of worry to stake­hold­ers who be­lieve that the coun­try could in lieu of ex­pend­ing about N288 bil­lion on im­por­ta­tion, achieve self-suf­fi­ciency in do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion by adopt­ing the right ap­proach.

Con­cerned by the per­sis­tence of this deficit, stake­hold­ers at a fo­rum on Re­view of Na­tional Fish­eries and Aqua­cul­ture Poli­cies for Co­her­ence/Align­ment with the Pol­icy Frame­work and Re­form Strat­egy (PFRS) for Fish­eries and Aqua­cul­ture in Africa, urged the govern­ment to im­prove the man­age­ment and pro­duc­tion in fish­eries and aqua­cul­ture for food se­cu­rity and eco­nomic growth.

To achieve that, they stressed that the govern­ment needs to im­prove fish­eries man­age­ment sys­tems, in­fra­struc­ture, value chain in­vest­ments, and en­cour­age pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment to in­crease the avail­abil­ity of qual­ity sea fishes. It also sup­ports re­forms in fish­eries poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions.

Foluke Are­ola, the na­tional con­sul­tant, African Union In­ter Bureau of An­i­mal Re­sources (AU-IBAR), said the fish­eries sec­tor is a ma­jor driver for growth as the marine and coastal fish­eries have sig­nif­i­cant po­ten­tial for sus­tain­able and higher pro­duc­tion.

For her, it is im­per­a­tive that Nige­ria Fish­eries Pol­icy be­come more ef­fi­cient in man­ag­ing and con­serv­ing the sec­tor’s re­sources to the ben­e­fit of the peo­ple.

“Two sur­vey ques­tion­naires which served to mon­i­tor the align­ment of Na­tional and Re­gional Fish­eries and Aqua­cul­ture Poli­cies with the PFRS for Fish­eries and Aqua­cul­ture in Africa and to sur­vey the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the PFRS for Fish­eries and Aqua­cul­ture in Africa with ref­er­ence to Nige­ria, have been com­pleted and sub­mit­ted to AU-IBAR. The sur­veys were com­pleted with the ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion of the Fed­eral De­part­ment of Fish­eries & Aqua­cul­ture.”

Ac­cord­ing to her, the ini­tia­tive could form the base­lines on which the suc­cesses of the Na­tional Poli­cies would be mea­sured in sub­se­quent years.

“This would be in a sim­i­lar man­ner to the Food and Agri­cul­tural Or­gan­i­sa­tion (FAO) Mem­ber Coun­try ques­tion­naires, for mon­i­tor­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the 1995 FAO Code of Con­duct for Re­spon­si­ble Fish­eries (CCFR) that are com­pleted an­nu­ally by coun­tries.”

Gen­er­ally, the stake­hold­ers rec­om­mended pro­mo­tion of re­search-based pol­icy that will lead to de­vel­op­ment of indigenous or­na­men­tal fish­ery, up­dat­ing na­tional data on fish­eries and en­cour­ag­ing ar­ti­sanal fish­ers to col­lab­o­rate and form co­op­er­a­tives.

Oth­ers were a pol­icy to take care of post-har­vest stor­age for ar­ti­sanal fish­ers, de­velop a Na­tional Ac­tion Plan to im­ple­ment the Vol­un­tary Guidelines for Se­cur­ing Sus­tain­able Small-Scale Fish­eries within African Union Pol­icy frame­work.

The fo­rum called for a pol­icy that would en­able na­tional and state gov­ern­ments part­ner at all lev­els to iden­tify the con­tri­bu­tion of ar­ti­sanal fish­eries to eco­nomic im­por­tance in the coastal ar­eas among oth­ers.

Sim­i­larly, David Shearer, WorldFish Di­rec­tor, who has been lead­ing trans­for­ma­tive ideas around self-suf­fi­ciency of in­land fish­eries be­lieves it is nec­es­sary to in­vest in re­searches and ap­ply needed re­sources to en­sure ac­cess to im­proved fish seed by 80 per­cent of fish farm­ers, a 20 per­cent in­crease in aqua­cul­ture pro­duc­tion, a 10-30 per­cent re­duc­tion in fish im­ports, im­proved house­hold nu­tri­tion and em­ploy­ment cre­ation for youth in the value chain, in a sep­a­rate re­port.

“By ap­ply­ing proven in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies, the aqua­cul­ture value chains across the con­ti­nent will be trans­formed. By em­brac­ing new tech­nolo­gies and ways of do­ing things, Africa is likely to catch up and sur­pass other aqua­cul­ture-pro­duc­ing re­gions of the world, thereby en­hanc­ing food se­cu­rity, cre­at­ing jobs and up­lift­ing the liveli­hoods of ru­ral women and the youth,” Harrison, coun­try di­rec­tor, WorldFish Egypt and Nige­ria said.

But lo­cally, stake­hold­ers do not see Nige­ria max­i­miz­ing the full po­ten­tial of the fish in­dus­try or align­ing ef­forts to pre­pare for this fu­ture de­mand

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