by Grace Eshedagho
Delta State Government in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), an organ of the United Nations (UN) has commenced the collation of data in the aquaculture business in other to determine the intervention needed to improve the sector.
This was made known at a discuss code named, Fish for African, Caribbean and the Pacific (Fish4ACP), a European Union sponsored programme of the United Nations to improve the value chain in the aquaculture business, especially catfish production, in the three nations.
Delta State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Recourses, Hon. Julius Egbedi who explained the essence of the project stated that Delta State will gain immensely from the programme as it would ensure that all stakeholders in the fish value chain are taken care of, the feed millers, the fish farmers, the off takers, even those who have storage facility to improve the sector.
He revealed that the first phase of the project was the gathering of data which would be use as a yardstick to determine areas of intervention by Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), an organ of the United Nations, for each selected states, saying that Delta State is well ahead in fish farming business due to abundance of water.
Commenting, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr Bennett Agama, said, “The programme is a whole length of activities, the first phase is an intervention for data capture, status evaluation, where they are, what their needs are, a kind of sustainable likelihood assessment to discover the opportunities, potentials the state has.
“To make meaningful intervention, we need to know the gaps and challenges the farmers are going through.
“The programme has a lot of promises to turn around the aquaculture industry in the state as Delta has enormous potentials and way ahead of others. A lot of money will be injected into it to close those gaps, particularly in feeds which is a major issue in fish business. It takes almost 70-80% of the cost of production.”
According to Mr Agama, the programme would create job opportunities, improve food and nutrition due to increase in fish production, create wealth and engaged the young promising youth in the aquaculture business.
Corroborating the permanent secretary, the Director Fishery in the ministry, Mrs Uju Osadebay opined that the Fish4ACP intervention in the aquaculture sector of the state would bridge the gap of the supply chain and an opportunity to meet the state demand for fish and even the export market being active.
The Team Leader of the programme in Delta State and a lecturer at the Lagos State University, Prof. Ajibola Olatunji explained that the Fish4ACP is a supporting sustainable development of farmer catfish value chain in Nigeria sponsored by the European Union and managed by the FAO of the UN to continue to increase in production of catfish and the whole practice sustained in terms of environmental practice.
According to Prof. Olatunji, “The programme will increase food for the citizens, create job opportunities particularly with the youth and women so that more people join force in producing food and thereby better their livelihood.”
He however stated that the programme started with the first phase of data collection which involved interacting with the whole lot, the chain, those processing, wholesaling, those into cat fish farming, those into restaurant, those into distribution and to the final consumer.
‘The essence is to get this information, to know what their problems are then aggregate these problems, package it into a document and then validate and appropriate intervention through upscale and upgrading – identify the problems and provide solution.
“To ensure that every persons involve in catfish business are harmonised to continue to ensure that the catfish farming is sustainable and it does not in any way harm the environment or social problem in the society” Prof. Olatunji explained.
Explaining further, the National Project Office for Fish in Nigeria, Dr Usman Abubakar said that the project was in four countries of West Africa, Nigeria, Corte D’Voire, Gambia and Senegal, saying that six locations are selected in Nigeria based on their aquaculture potentials which are Delta, Lagos, Oyo, Anambra, Kano States and the FCT.
Dr. Usman stated that the state would gain immensely as it would improve the aquaculture sector especially catfish production and how every stakeholder in value chain would benefit.