Magnus Eze, Abuja
The Federal Government has tasked fish importers to bring their investments back to the country in order to promote commercial aquaculture.
Government has also approved special incentives for investors who intend to go into deep sea fisheries exploitation.
Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, who disclosed these at a stakeholders workshop on the WorldFish Nigeria Research Programme in Abuja, explained that the steps were aimed at reducing fish importation into the country, and to develop the fisheries industry locally.
Lokpobiri assured of government’s preparedness to support the WorldFish Centre in Nigeria, noting that such commitment can only be given to the investors when they comply with the present administration’s policy of “backward integration”.
The Minister also stated that the Ministry was working towards bridging the existing gap between the annual national fish demand which is in the excess of 3.2 million metric tonnes, and the local production that is presently at 1.1 million metric tonnes.
He further disclosed that some of the fish importers who complied with government’s directives were already being duly certified to export fish to the international market.
“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has directed all fish importers to go into backward integration through commercial aquaculture (pond and cage culture). Some of the companies which have complied have been duly certified and can now export their fish and fishery products including shrimps to the international market.
“ In addition, letters of Assurance are given to investors that intend to go into deep sea fisheries exploitation for tuna and other highly valued fish for export”, he said.
Also speaking at the workshop, an executive of the WorldFish International Partnership and Programme Delivery, Mr. David Shearer said that the organisation was bringing the WorldFish Centre to Nigeria to support the efforts towards food and nutrition security drive of the government.