This development became public, when Abia state, the fourth in the zone to have its Catfish Farmers Association ( CAFAN ) formally inaugurated by the National President, Tayo Akingbolagun in Umuahia, saying that the south east zone has great potential to make success of fish farming.
According to Nigerian news agency TheGuardian, CAFAN has been inaugurated in almost all the southeast states and Delta, whose representatives including those of Akwa Ibom attended the Abia state inauguration.
Akingbolagun said that catfish farming will create over 500,000 jobs with substantial number in the south east, when this annual national target of one million metric tons of catfish becomes realised by 2018.
He said that actualising this target was hinged on the federal government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda that set into motion an articulated Aquaculture Value Chain Development programme and its involvement in a five-year aquaculture development plan in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which will be private sector driven.
Akingbolagun said that Nigeria’s potential for aquaculture is about four million metric tons annually with consumption estimate of 2.66 million tons adding that about 1.44 million tons of fish amounting to N100 billion annually are imported against the total nation’s production figure of 780,000 metric tons.
According to him, Nigeria has a coastline of about 853 kilometers with suitable enormous water resources favoring aquaculture and available aquaculture production area of 1.7 million hectares.
He therefore urged south easterners to engage in aquaculture saying, "The challenges in the fisheries sub sector should be seen as untapped opportunities waiting to be explored."
The state resident Federal Director of Agriculture, Ebere Oziri, who said that about $500 million was expended in importing fish annually into the country, will be channeled to other sectors when the national target is achieved.
He said the inauguration of fish farming in the zone will help the fish farmers to form a common front through which they will attract government assistance. “It is when they come together that the cost of fish feeds will be reduced hence government has been willing to subsidise fish feeds in order to ultimately.
Announcing Abia state government support, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ike Onyenweaku said that under the Aquaculture Action Plan, the state government will provide baseline data of both farmers and potentials of the state in Aquaculture, train farmers along all the Value Chain in Aquaculture, provide them fish seeds and other needed inputs, help them to have access to the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System of Agricultural Lending fund , provide land and Infrastructure for the establishment of fish markers/processing centres in all the 17 LGAs of the state.
State CAFAN Chairman, Prince George Akomas, who said that the members had the potentials to succeed, described the state chapter inauguration as one that will actualise government intentions towards, produce protein at affordable price to the people , pledging that they will work towards reducing the importation of fish into the country before very long.
Chairman of the State Farmers Association, Dunlop Okoro, who collaborated that there is a lot of market and return on investment on fish farming, urged CAFAN to collaborate with his association for their desired success.