The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ernest Umakhihe said Nigeria is running on a deficit of 2.2 million tons of fish which it depends on importation in order to close the gap.
Umakhihe said the total demand for fish in Nigeria stands at 3.6 million tons annually, while it produces 1.1 million tons from all sources, which include aquaculture, artisanal and industrial sector.
The Permanent Secretary disclosed this on Thursday a conference on the transformation and future of aquatic food systems in Nigeria held in Abuja.
He said 10 million Nigerians are actively engaged in primary and secondary fisheries operations while the contribution of fisheries to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is about 4.5 per cent.
He said the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari is to grow Nigeria’s agricultural sector to achieve a hunger-free nation, accelerate food production to address food and nutritional security, and transform Nigeria into a leading player in global food/fish market to reduce importation in a short, medium and long term basis.
“Permit me to mention that fish is one of the cheapest and predominant sources of animal protein in Nigeria. It accounts for about 50 per cent of total animal protein consumed in Nigeria with consumption of 17.5 Kg per person per year.
“In this regard, the total demand for fish is 3.6 million tons annually while Nigeria is producing 1.1million tons from all sources (aquaculture, artisanal and industrial sectors) leaving a deficit of about 2.5 million tons to be supplemented by importation,” he said.
He said the Ministry has played a key role in addressing aquatic food systems in Nigeria which include “backward integration policy of the government to encourage fish importers to go into commercial aquaculture (pond and cage culture) of fish and shrimp farming”.
In his Keynote Address, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Sabo Nanono said despite the potential impacts of the fisheries and aquaculture resources, the sector is still confronted with numerous challenges including the high cost of inputs and use of unimproved breeds in aquaculture.