MORE than 90 Nigerian fish farmers attended a conference in Lagos last week, with a view to developing the country’s aquaculture industry.
Organised by feed company Skretting, which has built mills in Nigeria, Egypt and Zambia, the AquaForum brought together government representatives and industry experts.
The event, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, provided a platform for networking and discussion, with issues such as best practices, professionalism, market analysis, value addition and government policy all debated.
The first day of the forum, which was opened by Skretting CEO Therese Log Bergjord, included a culinary session, with participants preparing dishes of catfish and tilapia, Nigeria’s two main farmed species.
On the second day, eight industry leaders took part in a panel discussion, focused on current challenges and potential solutions.
Despite local aquaculture production, the majority of fish consumed in Nigeria is imported. Increased farm production would make way for product development and value adding, the forum agreed. And with an increase in supply and a decrease in cost, Nigeria would no longer be so dependent on imports.
Rob Kiers, managing director of (Skretting parent company) Nutreco Africa and Skretting Asia, and a panel member, said: ‘We need to feed the fast growing global population with the limited resources that we have available on our planet.
‘The solution for providing enough food for Nigeria is to increase aquaculture production in Nigeria itself.’
Globally, aquaculture plays an important role in strengthening livelihoods and enhancing food and nutritional security. The United Nations High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) recently concluded that fish is ‘crucial to any debate and action to reduce poverty and improve food security and nutrition’.
During the AquaForum, the Dutch Consul General in Lagos, Jan van Weijen, stressed the importance of aquaculture to Nigeria.
‘I started 25 years ago in Nigeria, and there were 140 million people then. Nowadays, Nigeria has over 200 million mouths to feed. Aquaculture is vital in providing enough protein to feed the country.’
Skretting wants to help achieve food security in Africa, said the company’s general manager in Nigeria, Seyi Adeleke-Ige.
‘Skretting Nigeria believes that only by working together we can truly strengthen the industry further and accelerate the needed growth of aquaculture in Nigeria,’ she said.