THE National Fish Association of Nigeria (NFAN), has called on the Federal Government to come to the aid of its members who are in distress due to losses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National President of the association, Dr Gabriel Ogunsanya, made the call in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Mr Chidike Ukoh in Abuja on Sunday.
NFAN is an umbrella body for Fisheries and Aquaculture Sub-sector in Nigeria.
He said its members suffered huge losses during the first two months of the lockdown in the country because of the pandemic and were yet to recover from it.
He said that the transportation of fish and input supply services only started from late April after NFAN leadership made a strong case for exemption duty pass for its members.
Ogunsanya lamented that in spite of the fact that the exemption pass was eventually approved by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, so many losses had been incurred by the farmers and other players.
He stressed that unless something urgent was done to salvage the situation, it would be difficult to meet the huge local fish demand in the country.
“We have serious concerns that in the midst of obvious inadequate fish supply, production challenges and personal sacrifices, our farmers are currently facing unbelievable fish glut.
“They are equally facing abysmally low pricing and inability to harvest and evacuate ponds and other fish holding water bodies.
“These challenges are therefore preventing restocking to break the production cycle.
“In the same vein, thousands of fish farmers in the South South region, comprising Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom states were thrown out of business not long ago.
“This is as a result of government order for investigation
and thorough cleaning of alien poisoning incident that caused massive fish and aquatic life mortality in the creeks and coastline water bodies between March and April.”
“From records, NFAN has the capacity within established members’ facilities to off take mature fishes for processing from different farms in Nigeria.
“This is to prevent post-harvest losses while making smoked fishes available in the markets and for national food bank. However, this requires intervention funding,” he said.
Ogunsanya said the industry required strong government commitment particularly in terms of policy direction and funding for fish importation to be banned in 2022 as assured by the federal government.
“As we carry on with the task to meet national fish demand threshold in two years, our farmers require palliatives and economic stimulus packages to remain in business as extended to others.
“We therefore pray the Federal Government to consider declaration of a state of emergency and implementation of a structured plan to revamp the struggling fisheries and aquaculture subsector.
“We urge ministries of agriculture and rural development and industry, trade and investment, to bring attention of government, MDAs and funding bodies to the plight of hard working fish farmers and industry operators.
“Their assistance in letting relevant stakeholders know the huge challenges faced by the industry will go a long way in sustaining our contributions to national food security and income generation,’’ he said.
The NFAN president said the association was open
to further discussion on issues raised and more prospects for purpose of ensuring national development.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, had on Feb. 4, said following Federal Government’s effort to encourage local production, Nigeria may stop fish importation in 2022.
He said time had come for Nigeria to look inward to tap into the huge potential in fisheries and aquaculture for local consumption and export.
He assured that measures were already being put in place by government to actualise the plan.