Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, has disclosed the plans to boost local production of fish species in an attempt to reduce the huge importation of the product into the country and also to conserve foreign exchange in the fishery sector. He made this known during an interactive session with the Management of Triton Group, one of the leading Stakeholders in Nigeria’s fishery sector, during their courtesy visit to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development head office in Abuja.
Ogbeh said that a whooping $700 million (about N210 billion) is spent annually on the importation of fish and it is no longer sustainable for the present administration under President Muhammadu Buhari to continue to spend such amount on fish imports at this period when the Nigerian economy had slipped into recession.
The Minister stated that more funds would be provided to research institutes to scale up research work into the local production of other species of fish apart from the regular catfish and Tilapia. He also pledged to collaborate with Triton on fish production to reduce the annual fish import bill urging the company to train more people in fish production. The minister revealed that the ministry has acquired 100 hectares of land in Gaube area of the Federal Capital Territory where young people will be trained on modern farming techniques.
In his response the Chairman, Triton Group, Ashvin Samtani, called on government to support the company in acquisition of land for expansion of its investment and to access the Gurara Dam in Kaduna State and Doma Lake in Nassarawa State. Samtani added, “we are also going to produce 70,000 metric tonnes of catfish and tilapia with the government’s support in five years and create 3,000 jobs for young people in Nigeria. We are also setting up our feed and hatchery company. We used to be a trading company, but now a producer, which is in line with government’s drive to diversify the economy.”