FCTA moves to transform fisheries sector to cash cow for national economy
By Salisu Sani-Idris
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has restated its commitment to transform the fisheries sector to become a cash cow for farmers in the territory and the national economy.
The Mandate Secretary for the FCTA Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat, Malam Abubakar Ibrahim, made the pledge at the commemoration of the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA) in the FCT.
He said: “UN declared 2022 as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries (IYAFA) with the objective of drawing global attention to the important role that small-scale fish farmers and fish workers play.
”They are very crucial in improving human well-being, food security, poverty eradication and in the sustainable use of natural resources.
“Member nations are expected to use the occasion to show commitment and take practical actions to support and promote fishery activities.
” The event we are therefore witnessing today is consistent with that worthy declaration as well as the theme of the event which is Building a Global Safety Net for Small-scale Artisanal Fisheries & Aquaculture.”
Ibrahim, therefore, expressed readiness of the secretariat to continue to advocate and pursue the implementation of innovative programmes that would help in enhancing effective utilisation of the rich water bodies that abound in the FCT.
He said that fish was a very important agricultural product that was largely consumed due to its rich nutritional and medicinal values.
Ibrahim added: “It is therefore not a surprise that the sector is growing at an alarming rate as more and more Nigerians engage in fish production not just for the nutritional value, but economic benefits associated with it.
” It is estimated that a very large percentage of Nigerians, mostly youths venture into fisheries production annually.
”While, this scenario would have been seen as a positive development, the sad narrative is the fact that more than 90 per cent of these farmers still operate at subsistent and small-scale levels.”
He, however, said that fish farmers in Nigeria lacked the professional expertise and investable funds to enable them acquire quality inputs required to help them transit easily from household to commercial production.
This is with the view to bridging the yawning gap between demand as well as supply and reduce the huge foreign exchange that was spent on fish importation.
Ibrahim said: “These are some of the issues that the programmes of the Secretariat are aimed at addressing.
”The story of Fisheries Development in the FCT is one that is characterised by steady growth and improvements in terms of production capacity, quality processing and access to markets and competitiveness
“Part of the strategies that we have adopted is to encourage local fish farmers organise themselves as a body so that they can more easily benefit from the various fisheries support programmes of the Secretariat.
“So far, over 400 fishery cooperative groups have registered with the secretariat, and we have been working closely with the various Fishery Associations.
”They include: Cat Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria, (CAFAN) to promote diversification into other fish varieties.”
Ibrahim recalled that in 2022, the secretariat organised series of workshops to promote Tilapia production, as well as on the utilisation of locally sourced materials for feed formulation which is cost efficient.
He added: “It is worth knowing that the establishment of the FCT Fish Farm Estate in Bwari is designed to be an all-inclusive facility that offers services that are in line with global best practices.
” Even though operations at the Estate are not yet of the expected standard, the Secretariat has been taking measures to address issues of water supply, electricity and access roads.
“I can assure you that with the pace of infrastructural development taking place at the Estate, operations will take off soon.”
Similarly, the secretary said in 2021, as part of the pet project of the FCT Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Aliyu, the secretariat constructed the FCT Aquaculture and Allied Trades Centre for Youth and Women at Kuka village in Kwali Area Council.
He stated that the centre was established to train women and youths in modern fish production techniques.
Ibrahim said: “It may interest you to know that after the first harvest in which the Minister of State took part in November 2021, more residents have been trained.
”They are currently engaging in fish production in different parts of the FCT with their products sold in markets within and outside the FCT.
” In October of 2022, the FCT Administration through the Secretariat provided assorted fishery inputs worth over N60 million to fish farmers in the FCT.
” The inputs which were sold at subsidized rates to farmers are being utilised and is providing the needed impetus for fish production in the FCT.
” This input support programme has received the approval of the Administration to be an annual event.”
Earlier, the secretariat’s Director of Administration and Finance, Malam Ishaq Sadeeq, called for urgent actions by stakeholders to restrategise and adopt new approaches that would help to enhance fish production in the FCT.
” We believe if the enabling environment is put in place, FCT has the capacity to produce fish that can effectively meet not only the local demands, but even beyond the frontiers of the FCT.
“Our desire in the FCT Administration is to transform the Fisheries sub-sector into one that can create jobs for our teeming youth population so that they can earn income and improve their socio-economic well-being.
Also, the Director of Fisheries of the secretariat, Ifeoma Okek, described lack of training, among others, as the major challenges facing the growth on Fisheries in the FCT.