The federal government said that the distribution of fish feeds and juveniles to farmers in the country is targeted at increasing fish production and reducing importation by 25 per cent.
Folake Areola, director of Federal Department of Fisheries, flagged off the distribution to farmers at the launch of the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme for aquaculture value chain in Lagos.
Areola said: “The current import bill is very high and unsustainable to the Nigerian economy. The huge sum of money spent by Nigeria annually on fish importation could be invested in fish farming. By 2015, Nigeria is targeting to reduce fish importation and also to export fish and fish products to the European Union countries and others.”
Areola, who was represented by Bola Kupolati, an assistant director in the department said five bags of fish feed would be given to each beneficiary at 50 per cent of the cost while 500 juveniles (growing fish) would be given at no cost.
She stated that the vision of the transformation agenda was to achieve a hunger-free Nigeria through an agricultural sector that would drive income and growth. She also said that the aquaculture sub-sector would generate employment, create wealth and ensure food and nutritional security in the country.
Also speaking at the event, Kayode Ashafa, the Lagos project coordinator of the GES, said that over 1,000 farmers had registered under the programme. Ashafa said that farmers were beginning to be enthusiastic about the support of government to empower the sector.
“Presently we have over 1,000 farmers registered for this phase of the GES aquaculture value chain. Whereas we had slot for only 840 farmers, meaning we are over-subscribed; but we assure you that in the next phase. All the farmers will be beneficiaries of the scheme,” he said.
On the distribution method, the coordinator said that government was working towards improving logistics. Ashafa said that the teething period of the scheme was beginning to fade out, adding that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is working tirelessly to get it right.