Wednesday, 19 June 2024

In Agriculture

The Fishing Industry Potential of Nigeria

The Fish Farming potential of Nigeria is unfathomable, as the demand for fish in Nigeria is still not met, despite having a domestic production estimated at about 800,000 metric tonnes. The demand stands at about 2.1 million metric tonnes per year. There is a shortfall of about 1.3 million metric tonnes.

WorldFish, the research centre for all things fish, globally, did a research on Nigeria, its history of the Fishing Industry, and published key findings, summarised herein.

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. Although it has made significant socioeconomic progress over the past 15 years, the country continues to face massive development challenges, which include reducing its dependency on oil and diversifying the economy, addressing insufficient infrastructure, and building strong and effective institutions, as well as improving governance, public financial management systems and human development indicators. Inequality in terms of income and opportunities has been growing rapidly, adversely affecting poverty reduction and leading to poor living conditions for most of the population.

The private sector is the main driver of the Nigerian economy. However, its potential has not been fully exploited as it faces its own set of challenges. Increasing the availability and accessibility of nutritious food, reducing food insecurity and improving health is a significant challenge that has become a state priority in recent years.

Despite Nigeria’s oil resources, agriculture remains the base of the country’s economy, providing the main source of livelihood for most Nigerians. Among rural, farming households, 80 percent of the working population engage in crop and animal production as their primary income activity. Most rural households fall below the USD 1.90/ day poverty line, with over 70 percent defined as “very poor,” based on a measure of daily per capita expenditures. Livestock is an important component of Nigerian agriculture, giving it social and economic development potential. 

Fisheries is a major economic sector, estimated to employ over 8.6 million people directly and a further 19.6 million indirectly, 70 percent of whom are women. Currently, Nigeria produces just over 1 million metric tons of fish, leaving a deficit of over 800,000 metric tons, which is imported annually. Recognizing the importance of fish within the agriculture sector for its potential contribution to alleviating poverty, improving food and nutrition security, reducing youth unemployment and building profitable business ventures, both capture fisheries and aquaculture are gaining increased attention, in both the public and private sectors.

Over the past 35 years, aquaculture production in Nigeria has grown 12 percent a year (compared to the world average of 8 percent), from a little over 6,000 metric tons in 1980 to nearly 307,000 metric tons in 2016. The country is the largest aquaculture fish producer in sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for 52 percent of the total farmed fish production in the region. Nigeria’s aquaculture focuses mainly on freshwater fish, with catfish species accounting for 64 percent of aquaculture production in 2015.

The increase in fish production in Nigeria accounted for 55 percent of the increase of its apparent total fish consumption between 1980 and 2013; the remaining 45 percent was covered by the increase in its net import (i.e., import minus export) of fish. The fish trade deficit increased from 350,000 metric tons to nearly 2 million metric tons between 2000 and 2011, before declining to 940,000 metric tons in 2013, thanks to a rapid increase in domestic fish production. 

WorldFish updated the IMPACT fish model to 2050. The result suggests that if other factors affecting fish demand (e.g., fish price and consumer preference) remain unchanged, demand in the early 2020s will be 600,000 metric tons higher than in the mid-2010s, because of income and population growth. If the current trend is maintained, aquaculture production in the early 2020s will be 150,000 metric tons higher than in the mid-2010s. This will only cover a quarter of the 600,000 metric tons of increased demand, resulting in a 450,000-metric ton demand-supply gap.

Although Nigeria accounts for per capita fish consumption of 13 kg/year, accurate data on gender- and wealth disaggregated consumption, intrahousehold consumption, consumption during the first 1000 days of life and other critical data are totally lacking. The social, economic and environmental value of small-scale fisheries is poorly understood. 

Considering the current market prices of fish (NGN 800–900 for a kg of tilapia and NGN 600–700 for a kg of catfish), and meagre rural incomes in an era of economic recession, it is unlikely that fish consumption among the rural poor reflects the national average. If business as usual continues, over the coming decades, per capita fish consumption in Nigeria will be significantly reduced, with major implications for the country’s nutritional status.

On 20–21 March 2018, a stakeholder consultation was held in Abuja to design the WorldFish Nigeria Strategy 2018–2022 and identify the research needed to implement the strategy. Stakeholders agreed on the overall objective of the strategy: to improve the contribution of fish to the income, livelihoods and nutrition of the rural poor in Nigeria. The consultation was attended by representatives from the public and private sectors, civil society, academia and the farming community.

The consultation addressed both small-scale fisheries and aquaculture but emphasized that aquaculture should be a priority vehicle for lifting poor rural communities and youths out of poverty and tackling undernutrition and hunger. The pathways and interventions to achieve nutrition-related outcomes will, however, require further research. The strategy should also keep in mind that aquaculture in Nigeria is truly a private sector activity.

The scoping research and consultation inform the strategy but recognize that further research is required on local fish agri-food systems, including the role of small-scale producers, current fish consumption patterns and related nutritional aspects, and small-scale fisheries during the early stages of strategy implementation. 

Proven and emerging aquaculture technologies and production solutions, including genetic improvement techniques, culture systems, better feed, seed and health management systems, will be developed and/or adopted from other projects. 

The first objective will be to transform the aquaculture sector to achieve improved productivity, value chain efficiency and the inclusiveness of farmed fish, directly benefitting smallholders and improving the nutrition of women and children.

Several crosscutting issues exist in Nigeria that could potentially limit the livelihood and nutrition benefits of fish. 

Climate change is impacting fisheries and aquaculture directly, by influencing production quantities and efficiency. At the same time, gender equity and women’s empowerment in the sector could boost productivity, reduce poverty and hunger, and enhance nutrition security. Achieving such impacts at scale can only happen by leveraging the dynamism of private enterprise, with appropriate enabling policies. 

In the aquaculture sector, this must cover the spectrum from family, homestead pond production to medium- and large-scale commercial input, production and processing operations, where these offer efficient vehicles to sustainably increase the availability of and access to affordable, nutritious fish for poor consumers.

This strategy has been prepared with Nigerian partners and will be implemented by further strengthening and diversifying these partnerships. Strong multistakeholder partnerships are an essential part of research and necessary for delivering impacts at scale.

Source: WorldFish

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