The President of the Catfish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFAN), Mr. Tayo Akingbolagun, has urged the federal government to safeguard Nigerian fisherfolk from the negative impact of import of foreign fisheries products.

Akingbolagun, at the opening of Oyo State CAFAN 2012 Catfish Fair, said the protection was necessary if fish farmers were to be self sufficient and attain the target of one million metric tonnes of farmed fish in the next five years under the Aquaculture Value Chain Development programme of the government.

The leader of the Fish farmers said quality brood stock and feed are required to put more fish on the table of Nigerians. To this end, he revealed that production of one million farmed fish required about 1.25 billion fingerlings given that 25 per cent mortality be expected in hatchery operations.

Akingbolagun decried the recycling of our local broodstock, which has affected yield but noted that the challenge could be tackled by genetic improvement to check in-breeding.

This would also require the partnership of farmers, research institutes and other relevant bodies to produce genetically improved brood stock, he said.

To help farmers stay on the credit side of the balance sheet, Akingbolagun called on the federal government to subsidise fish meal for fish farmers as it did fertiliser for crop farmers.

“70 per cent of cost of production is attributed to feed therefore, it would be quite helpful if government would look into this urgently.

Oyo state Chairperson of CAFAN, Mrs Modupe Awoyomi-Kolade said the theme of the 2012 Fair, “Effective Management of Catfish Farming for Profitability was relevant as participants would be exposed to well packaged interactive lectures by resource persons that aim at maximizing productivity and profit.

“Some of the major challenges facing catfish production enterprise will be addressed. Marketing – local and export financing, preservation and value addition for prolonged shelf life to meet emerging consumer tastes and preferences are of major concern, Awoyomi-Kolade said.

A forefront farmer, Chief Folorunsho Ogunnaike of Hope Farms, told participants that fish farmers need to be in unity to achieve more and not multiply associations.

2012 Guardian