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Value chain analysis could help unlock the potential of Nigeria's catfish industry

FISH4ACP has published its comprehensive value chain analysis for Nigeria's catfish sector and has identified strategies to make the industry more inclusive and environmentally sustainable.

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
23 March 2022, at 9:53am
person holding a catfish
FISH4ACP conducted an in-depth value chain analysis of Nigeria's catfish sector

© FISH4ACP

Nigeria’s huge catfish sector provides an income and healthy food to millions of people, according to an assessment presented on 22 March to over 80 stakeholders and experts, who discussed ways to improve domestic production, while bolstering the benefits to women and youth and lessening the burden on the environment.

“Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of African catfish,” said Ime Umoh, Director of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, opening a meeting in Abuja, where the results of an analysis of Nigeria’s catfish sector were presented. He added: “This sector can help to improve domestic fish production, a priority for our country where millions of livelihoods depend on catfish, which is also an important source of affordable and healthy food for the population.”

According to the value chain analysis conducted by FISH4ACP and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nigeria’s aquaculture production of catfish amounted to an estimated 1,260,000 tonnes in 2019. Some 80 percent of that production comes from the ponds of around 2.5 million subsistence farmers. They use roughly half of it for their own consumption and sell the other half to boost their family income.

Nigeria is one of the twelve countries where FISH4ACP, an initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) implemented by FAO with funding from the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), works to make fish value chains more productive and sustainable. Activities in Nigeria target catfish and kicked-off last year with an analysis of the sector, the results of which were presented on 22 March.

“This comprehensive assessment offers prospects for a stronger catfish value chain in all the areas of the sustainable development agenda that Europe supports,” said Urszula Sołkiewicz of the EU delegation in Nigeria. She added: “The holistic approach makes FISH4ACP stand out, and we are confident that it will contribute to making Nigerian catfish production better economically, socially and environmentally.”

two catfish sitting on a table
FISH4ACP will now focus on factors that have hampered the catfish industry's growth in recent years

During the next three days, over 80 stakeholders and experts involved in catfish aquaculture will review the outcomes of the value chain analysis and discuss ways to improve the sector – setting the agenda for FISH4ACP’s activities for the years to come. They will also establish a task force to sustain the dialogue on the value chain and make sure that the sector is engaged in the efforts to make it stronger.

“FISH4ACP demonstrates FAO’s support of Nigeria’s ambition to increase domestic fish production,” said Fred Kafeero​, FAO’s Representative in Nigeria, adding: “Its innovative value chain approach is going to be of great help to achieve this and ensure that the benefits will be shared equitably and sustainably.”

Fred Kafeero said that FISH4ACP would need to focus on factors that have hampered growth in recent years, despite of Nigeria’s shortfall in domestic supply that has spurred on expansion in previous decades. Improved working conditions, he added, in particular for women and youth, would be an important step forward. He also raised the need to address health and environmental concerns resulting from the excessive use of charcoal and firewood in fish smoking.