Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Federal Government said it is partnering with the Ogun State Government to boost the production of fisheries, stressing that the current 1.1metric tonnes is not sufficient to meet the demands of Nigerians.
Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Heineken Lokpobiri, who disclosed this, at the weekend, when he commissioned four projects built by the ministry in Eriwe, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, explained that the Federal Government was particularly interested in the state because, “If agriculture succeeds in Ogun, agriculture has succeeded in Nigeria.”
The projects commissioned at Eriwe fishing farm estate were, feed mill, cold room, fish market and the processing unit.
In a statement signed by the minister’s media aide, Gorge Oji, he said that the projects “are all intended to make the estate a real fish farming cluster where the farmers will fully appropriate all the advantages of fish farming value chain.”
The Eriwe fish farms, which has over 3,000 fish ponds scattered over an estimated 156 hectares of land area, with an average fish farming production turnover of about 2,500 metric tonnes annually and income generation of about N2 billion annually, is the biggest fish farming estate in Africa.
Lokpobiri appreciated the efforts of the Eriwe community in fish farming, which he noted, had assisted the government grow the fishery sector in Nigeria.
He revealed that when the present administration came to power, the local production of fish was only about 600,000 metric tonnes, but with the support of the likes of the Eriwe community, that figure has increased to about 1.1 million metric tonnes, which represents almost 100 per cent increment.
He added, “There is still a lot that needs to be done because our national demand is about 3.5 million metric tonnes and we are producing only about 1.1 million metric tonnes, which means that we are only producing about one third of our national demand.”
The uniqueness and success of the fish farming project is that it is a community-based initiative, run and managed by a community-based Non Government Organisation (NGO) of the people, the IDIPR and targeted at lifting the people of the community out of poverty.
Besides its commitment to the Eriwe fish farm project, the Federal Government, according to Lokpobikri, is also intervening in some other areas in Ogun State, like the construction of rural roads to enable easy evacuation of farm produce, rehabilitation of some moribund farms in the state, establishment of cocoa and rubber plantations among others.
With the successes recorded in fishing, the people of Eriwe community have began to diversify into other agricultural projects, like, poultry farming, piggery and presently, they have also acquired land outside the estate to do cocoa farming and plantation.