Fish consumption accounts for about 35 percent of animal protein consumption in Nigeria. In turn, fish farming is a vibrant and dynamic commercial sector in Nigeria, ripe with investment and employment opportunities. Recent data show that Nigeria produced just over 600,000 metric tons of fish in 2007. Consumer demand, on the other hand, was reported at 2.66 million metric tons, and was met only in part by imports of about 740,000 metric tons that same year. Meeting local consumer demand is in line with MARKET’s commitment to global food security and its positive impact on nutrition.
The aquaculture industry is not new to Nigeria; the first documented fish farms date back fifty years. However, this was also the time when fishing activities among coastal communities also began to decrease due to oil-related activities. Making locally-produced fish more readily available for Nigerian consumers will give them faster and fresher access to one of the healthiest sources of animal protein. However, supplying high-grade fish with strong nutritional content is a challenge for many farmers. Quality fish requires quality fish feed, which is expensive for farmers to purchase; processing fish to meet diverse market demands depends on farmers having the correct technical and commercial knowledge and investment capabilities.
We are working with several partners to make fish farming in Nigeria more competitive against imports. Since 2006, we have supported Durante Feeds to market locally-produced fish feed that is high in protein and competes with imported commercial fish feed on both cost and quality. We facilitated a loan for Durante’s product from First Bank, and helped organize several thousand fish farmers in southwest Nigeria to test and market the feed to others.
Smoked fish is another form of protein that is consumed heartily throughout the country. We are training members of catfish farmer associations in new smoking techniques. Recognizing the demand for fish in the Nigerian market, we have also started a pilot project focusing on caged tilapia farming. Our work in fisheries not only helps generate jobs and revenue, but also helps meet requirements for food security and improved nutrition.