…As government spends N50billion on fish importation annually
According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations Agricultural Outlook, fish and seafood consumption is projected to increase by 13.69% in the next ten years. This outlook offers positive invitation to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the country to invest in fish farming and seafood production knowing that the consumption for fish and seafood will increase in the coming years.
Many Nigerians consume fish because it does not contain bad cholesterol found in red meat and is strongly recommended by doctors all over the world. It contains several minerals necessary for healthy living. Fish is filled with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as D and B2 (riboflavin) among others. According to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) consumption expenditure pattern survey, households on fish and seafood spent a total of N1.33trillion in 2019 and this is expected to grow by more than 100% to N2.66 trillion in 2029.
According to the United Nations Agricultural Outlook sighted by MSMEsToday, fish and seafood consumption is to increase by 13.69% from 1.7Mt in 2019 to 1.9Mt in 2029. When compared with production, there is a gap of 549 tonnes between fish and seafood consumption and production in 2019 and the gap is expected to increase further in the coming years by 55.19% to 697 tonnes in 2029.
The gap between fish and seafood demand and supply has been bridged by importation over the years. In 2019, a total of 555 tonnes of fish and seafood were imported into the country to shore up production shortages. It is projected that fish and seafood importation will increase in the coming years by148 tonnes or 26.67% to 703 tonnes by 2029. MSMEsToday checks also show that Nigeria spends about N50 billion on fish importation annually to meet its yearly fish demand.
Experts believe that instead of bridging the gap between fish and seafood demand and supply through importation, MSMEs investment in fish and seafood farming can close the gap in the coming years. Fish farming has contributed significantly to food security, income generation, trades, employment opportunities, improved living standards and aided foreign exchange earnings.
In summary, there is need to increase MSMEs investment in aquaculture in the country if importation of fish and seafood must be reduced. This can be done by sensitizing the public on the need to invest in fish production business through public lectures, training and workshops. Government at both the federal and state levels should also encourage and support fish farmers through micro-credits and other incentives.