By Sheriff Balogun in Abeokuta
Following the low production of tilapia fish supply in the country, an aqua firm, Premium Aquaculture has disclosed that it is set to boost tilapia fish production supply with more than 20, 000 MT in next five years.
Speaking at the inaugural harvest of tilapia fish at Oyan Dam in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, the Farm Manager, Mr. Govin Daraju said the company was incorporated in 2014 to develop tilapia, catfish and shrimp farming projects across Nigeria.
He said the aim was to produce food fish locally and make Nigeria self – sufficient in line with federal government’s agricultural transformation agenda.
The Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri who inaugurated the first harvest of the tilapia fish disclosed that the nation’s fish demand stood at 3.1 metric tonnes per annum.
He added that the country is currently hovering around 1.1 metric tonnes per annum, leaving a deficit of 2.1 metric tonnes.
According to him, the federal government resorted to backward integration to encourage local fish farmers, to bridge the gap between demand and supply
The minister added: “When this administration came on board, the supply was around 800, 000 metric tonnes per annum, but due to government policy on fishery by the ministry of agriculture, the country is now doing 1.1 metric tonnes per annum.”
Daraju, however, noted that the hatchery facility at Oyan dam has a capacity to produce 12 million fingerlings per annum that can supply half of the country’s present tilapia fingerlings requirement.
According to him, the food wastage in the country is very high due to lack of fish processing and storage facilities and it can be curtailed only through cold chain.
He added: “The cold chain facility would help the company to supply all-natural, freshly frozen, premium tilapia to the market.”
He, therefore, identified lack of aquaculture inputs in the local market as the company’s initial challenges, pointing out that the other major challenge was lack of fast growing tilapia fingerlings and uninterrupted supply of good quality feed to grow fish to marketable size.
“Foreseeing the challenges, our company has strategically invested in fish hatchery at first place and also invested in 100 Cages”, he said.