Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has vowed to stamp out corrupt practices associated with fish importation and production in the country.
Adesina, who made this known yesterday at a Stakeholders Interactive meeting on repositioning the fishery sector in Abuja, said that government would no longer condone such illegality.
He said the continued corruption in fish importation had left Nigeria a dumping ground for fish, saying that fish importers had corrupted public officials to give licences away above their available cold room warehouse capacities.
“Fish importers are cheating and are not paying the amounts due to government for licence. Even more worrisome is that there is no cold storage capacity in the country to keep 5.9 MT of fish”
Speaking on the ban on fish importation, Dr. Adesina said “It is important to make it clear that the government has not banned the import of fish, as it being misinterpreted by unscrupulous fish importers”.
Adesina also said Nigeria spends an estimated N125.38 billion on fish importation annually.
His words: “ Nigeria spends an estimated N125.38 billion importing fish every year. This is totally unacceptable “.
He further explained that total demand for fish in Nigeria is 2.7 million MT but Nigeria is producing about 800,000 MT locally with the deficit of 1.9 million MT which is met by imports.
The Minister said that for Nigeria to be self-sufficient in fish production, it will have to promote greater investments in aquaculture, improve artisanal, inland and marine fisheries.
He said “in 2013, a total of 3.6 million juveniles, 36,000 bags of 15kg of feed and 200 water testing kits were provided to fishermen in 10 states, at a total cost of N1.5 billion .
In her remarks, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote who was represented by Engr. Jide Olumeko said that “if Nigeria harness it’s potential in fish production, it will be capable of being self sufficient in fish production and produce excess for export to generate foreign exchange.”