NIGERIA – To checkmate capital flight from Nigeria through fish importation, conservatively put at N125 billion, and encourage local production, the Federal Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) instituted the policy to achieve 35 per cent reduction in annual fish importation.

Although, there were initial resistances based on the perception that the policy would suppress Nigeria’s fisheries sub-sector, which is largely dependent on import to meet local demand, the FG remained resolute.

At various fora, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina had stated that the 35 per cent reduction in fish importation is sacrosanct, as it would help in making the country’s fisheries sub-sector self-sufficient.

Months after the enforcement was heightened, hope seems to have risen, as local importers are taking steps to improve on their investment base.

One of such is Triton Aqua Africa, regarded as one of the biggest fish importing companies in Nigeria, which has announced additional $60 million commitment to boost local production. The company intends to use its resources and a large percentage of its importing facilities to the production of different species of fish locally.

In a clear demonstration of this resolve, Projects Director of the company, Mr. Yashpal Jain, disclosed at a press briefing in Lagos that the company would bring its expertise to bear on this and divert the cold room expansion facilities to boost aquaculture and boost fish production locally.

Jain explained that the decision had been influenced by the recent review of the fish import quota policy of the FG, saying that the company’s exploits in this direction in India and Ghana will be brought to bear to aid and promote aquaculture and increase local production in Nigeria.

Jain who demonstrated the company’s vast experience to make this happen in Nigeria said the commitment of the minister has further reinvigorated the resolve of its organisation as a major importer of fish into the country to also replicate its fish production locally like in other countries in Africa and beyond where it operates.

Disclosing that the company is planning big for high yielding fingerlings with a projection for production of 60 million metric tonnes within three to four years, Jain explained that the company has already identified 150 water bodies in Nigeria, with an evaluation that has reduced it to 15 because some of them are not suitable for aquaculture to thrive.

Stressing that structures and government policies in countries like Ghana and Egypt had encouraged the company to increase production, he said, with consistency, Nigeria will soon witness similar progress, adding that the firm has already started acting by approaching state governments for effective utilisation of identified water bodies.

Speaking further on the positive moves being made by the company, Jain said his organisation has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Oyo State government on the utilisation of Asejire dam, in a project scheduled to take off in January 2015. It will also be supported by infrastructure and land from the host governments.

On the company’s plan for Nigeria, he said the company will set up its own Fish Feed mill once it reaches a reasonable scale of production within three year of operations. He added that the company would leverage on house consumption for aqua culture as well as poultry broiler farms to get economies of scale for feed mill.

Jain also disclosed that the company’s first production of 2,000 metric tons of locally produced fingerlings would be harvested in February this years from its various ponds in Lagos.

He pledged that the company would build a production capacity of about 60,000 tonnes in the next five years, stressing that its plan is to turn Nigeria into fish independent and exporting country.

“We will set up intensive farming technology in Cages in Dam. We will also set up farms in ponds in Nigeria. Our plans will be backed by our state of art hatchery, and we will also invest in our own feed mill.

“We would like to set up hatcheries for African Catfish and Tilapia. For this we will need to import genetically improved brood stock for both species. This hatchery will provide fingerlings for our own grow out farms and for other Tilapia and Cat fish farms in Nigeria. We will need land dedicated water source for this hatchery,” he added.

Jain said that apart from the MoU with Oyo state government, the company is also partnering with Ogun, Kwara and Ekiti states respectively on their different dams, saying surveys have shown that the states have good water bodies for local fish farming production.

On the capacity of the company to make a success of the venture in Nigeria as it had recorded in other countries, the Director of Project cited the capacity of its local production of fish in other countries like Ghana, Egypt with 240 grow out cages and 48 nursery cages with a capacity of 2, 400 metric tons of Tilapia, with complete infrastructure like hatchery, ice plant, processing shed, cold store in Ghana, as experiences that could guide them through the Nigerian turf.

He explained the strong will of the organisation to undertake the aquaculture project across Nigeria and willingness to commit investment worth $50 to $60 million in Nigeria in the next five to six years.

Expressing hope that the project will also create a lot of business and job opportunities for Nigerians as has been the case in other countries where it operates, Jain added that the project will be carried out in phases as it cannot meet the over 2.7 million tonnes local requirement for fish overnight.

He said, “It is a phased programme because the project has its own limitations as it is not possible to produce everything the local market can probably consume now. There are some species consumed by local people that are not available locally and we cannot deny such people in this category the luxury of enjoying the delicacies of their choice.

“Tilapia production is limited and it is a success story in Ghana and Egypt. We hope Nigerian people will like it. It is popular in Egypt because it is the third most preferred specie even in America, Ghana, Senegal, and other places. We want to bring back the genetic improved specie into Nigeria,” he added.

January 4, 2015;