The Nigerian Fish market
The Nigerian fish market is a big market. Over 3.6 million metric tonnes of fish are consumed in the country annually. Unfortunate...
The Nigerian fish market is a big market. Over 3.6 million metric tonnes of fish are consumed in the country annually. Unfortunately, Nigeria produces only a third of this quantity or about 1.2 million metric tonnes of over 3.6 million metric tonnes of fish consumed in the country. This production is currently in the artisanal, industrial and aquaculture subsectors. Nigeria imports over 2.4 million metric tonnes of frozen fish annually to bridge the gap in fish demand in the country. The high import of fish is another area that is taking a toll on the country’s foreign exchange reserves. It is estimated that Nigeria spends over N125 billion ($625 million) annually on fish importation. Between 2019 and June 2021 alone, Nigeria imported a total of N34.7 billion ($69.39 million) Mackerel fish from Japan from Japan alone.
Apart from the toll on exchange rate, fish is one of the cheapest sources of proteins. Hence, the federal Government is supporting the local production of fish in various ways. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Mahmood, through the Director, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ime Umoh told journalists on the sidelines of the Internal Coordination Meeting of Implementation of Fisheries Governance Project Phase Two in Abuja that the government is training those in the artisanal sector, providing them with inputs and sometimes boost the rivers with fingerlings. In terms of aquaculture, the government has established fish farm estates for youths and women, as well as provided them with feeds. This is aimed at boosting fish production and making the cost affordable in Nigeria. Local fish production will have the dual functions of saving the foreign exchange expended on fish importation as well as provide enough protein to the citizenry.
The high deficit in the fish subsector of the agricultural sector provides a big opportunity for prospective investors in that subsector. It is estimated that Nigeria needs about 400,000 new fish farmers to bridge the gap in fish supply and to benefit maximally from the existing opportunities along its value chains in the country, and about 5,000 new fish farmers every year to satisfy this growth rate. Fish value chain includes fish development, market development and value addition. Valued addition to the raw form of harvested fishes creates a lot of opportunities for fish farmers. Product development includes researchers who curate new products derived from harvested fishes. New products can be developed from fresh fish or processed fish. Market development is a growth strategy that identifies and develops new market segments for fish products. The fish value chain is capable of creating a lot of jobs in Nigeria and reducing the unemployment rate in the country.