Dr. Lateef Folorunso, the Head of Fisheries Centre in the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, has enjoined the Federal Governments to currently direct its energies at achieving self-sufficiency in fish production.
Folorunso told newsmen in Lagos that Nigeria could only plan for exporting its fishery products after satisfying Nigerians fish demands at home.
“We cannot talk about export yet. We need self-sufficiency first. We need to feed ourselves before thinking of export. We first need self-sufficiency in the Nigeria fishery industry. We do not have enough fish production to think of starting exports, we are only deceiving ourselves when we say we want to embark on large scale fish exports.
“We do not yet have an industrialised fishery sector in the country to start thinking of export except we want to deceive ourselves.
“The first thing is for us to feed well. The average Nigerian home hardly has fish as part of their diet or meals in a day,’’ he said.
Folorunso urged the Nigerian fishery industry to be committed to ensuring that Nigerians were provided with fishes during breakfast, lunch or dinner. According to him, one of the ways to attain self-sufficiency is for most households to produce what they eat.
‘We should decide to rear fish in most homes the way we rear chickens. There are several ways to get fish in our diets apart from the usual beef or chicken. We can achieve this if every Nigerian cultivates a small fish tank in their backyards.
“If everybody can cultivate the habit of keeping small fish tanks in their homes that will at least solve the problem of fish deficit in our diets,” he said.
The expert also called for the establishment of Fish farm villages to increase the production of fish in the country, adding that Nigerians attitude to agriculture was not encouraging.
Folorunso said that about 90 percent of Nigerians in agriculture was still being practiced at a subsistence level.
“It is these small scale farmers that are currently feeding the country. A lot of facilities that these fish farmers need to go to large scale production are not available. There is also the concept of fish farm villages. We have one in Ogun presently, and it is a settlement for local fish farmers.
“If we have a lot of fish farm villages across the country like we do in Ogun State, it will boost the fish production potential of Nigeria,” he said.