Boosting domestic aquaculture
Fish farming is a promising business for small scale investors in Lagos. There are many ventures and job opportunities in the industry.To increase this, the state is partnering the British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) to build a resource hub for aquaculture, with focus on fish breeding and technology, DANIEL ESSIET reports.
Lagos State is home to many fish farmers whose livelihoods depend on their harvests. But a problem facing the farmers is stemming fish losses which reduce their incomes. The high percentage of fish losses is due mainly to poor infrastructure, such as inadequate processing facilities, poor fish handling and lack of storage. Although the farmers have the capability to produce more fish they also lack the capacity to manage the entire production process – from hatchery to harvesting.
To address these, the state is partnering the British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) which introduced the farmers to new hatchery and fish smoking technologies at the presentation of a fish processing facility in Lagos.
The fish processing facility reduces the smoke level in fish to internationally acceptable standards.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Olayiwole Onasanya, said the development of fish farming is critical to the government.
Represented by the Director of Veterinary Services, Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, Olufemi Adeyemi, the Permanent Secretary (PS), said the state is involved in the education of investors about the growth of sustainable aquaculture enterprises.
Adeyemi said the development of aquaculture sector requires a chain approach.
He said Lagos, through the state Agricultural Development Authority, engages in aquaculture capacity building.
Among the activities undertaken by the authority are the establishment of hatcheries, feed and fish quality, training of farmers and hatchery managers.
Speaking during the presentation of smoking kiln to small holder fish farmers groups in the state, the Legal and External Affairs Director, BAT West Africa, Freddy Messanvi said the foundation hopes to increase local production of food fish to ensure a resilient food supply and provide a crucial buffer in times of supply disruptions.
He said the organisation was working with rural communities to provide capacity building for farmers on modern agricultural methods, thereby enhancing output and guaranteeing food security and accelerated economic development.
On the fish farming training, he said it is targeted at building farmers’ capacity and farm management. Though sponsored by the foundation, he said the training was done by the Agricultural Development Authority.
He said the company also an hatchery for enhanced fingerling production.
He praised the Agbelere Women Cooperative & Multipurpose Cooperative Society, which after a thorough selection process, emerged beneficiaries of the kiln.
He said: ”With this support and trainings on best practices in fish hatchery, processing and packaging, it is our desire that your business and income will grow tremendously and ultimately you will begin to export to countries within and beyond the West Africa region.”
Executive Director, BATNF, Ms Abimbola Okoya said the foundation received a request to partner with the Agricultural Development Authority on some projects. “We were pleased for a number of reasons, but the most significant of them was out joint mandate to empower small holder farmers, especially those who live in rural communities,” she said.
She said the fingerlings’ capacity building project was aimed helping the state bridge the growing gap in fish demand.
“Our objective was to empower 200 farmers with good agricultural practices in fish hatchery and production, improve their source of income and enhance food security in the state,” she said.
According to her, increased investment in aquaculture sector – including, breeding and hatchery practices should boost farmed-fish production.
She added that participants received practical training on or run a fish farm after graduation.
She said:”The donation of smoking kiln to a farmer group today, will be the seventh kiln donated to fish farmers’ groups in less than 15 months. The first set of kilns were donated to farmers in the Niger Delta region and todate we have heard liberating stories of economic bliss.”