Stakeholders in the agricultural sector in Lagos State have urged the government to review and enforce fishing laws and practices for both artisanal and cultured fishing, just as Lagos was commended for its on-going initiatives in the fishery value-chain.
The call was made in a communiqué issued at the end of a one-day Agricultural Stakeholders Summit organised by the State Ministry of Agriculture with 120 participants made up of 30 Government officials, 21 Bank Officials, 12 representatives from different farms and 57 individuals from Agro-processing and Agriculture-related companies.
The participants also called for an upgrade of the existing Fish Farm Estates, especially the Ketu Ereyun Fish Farm, with modern infrastructure to aid the deployment of technology, appealing as well to the State Government to facilitate the emergence of a business model that will make Farm Estates attractive to high networth investors/operators.
According to stakeholders, the State Government needs to help fish farmers to facilitate the granting of single digit interest loans for the acquisition of inputs and production assets under the Fishery Value Chain in order to grow the sector.
“On Cage and Pen Culture fish farming, the Summit noted the drive of the Lagos State Government for the optimal utilisation of abundant water bodies especially, but not limited to, the introduction of the Cage and Pen Fish Culture Technology into the Lagos State Fishing system and, that this effort be upscaled to encourage Private Sector Participation,” communiqué stated.
The Stakeholders also emphasised the need to attract youths to farming through the deployment of modern technologies along artisanal fishery value chain as the number of practitioners is being depleted without new entrants into the trade.
“The Summit called for increased investment in the downstream end (storage, processing, preservation, marketing etc) of the fishery value chain by both Public and Private Sectors. It enjoined Government to further promote and protect fish value chain in Lagos State in collaboration with Private Sector through activities like the Sea Food Festival, and as a matter of necessity, make it an annual event starting from December 2019,” the communiqué added.
While the Summit called on the State Government to create an enabling environment for stakeholders in obtaining certification of their products from regulatory bodies, especially for export purposes, it further observed the need to reduce tariffs on importation of fish feed as well as taking concrete steps, in conjunction with the private sector, towards the establishment of a fish feed factory in Lagos State.
The communiqué noted the comparative advantage of Lagos in fish production and enjoined the private sector to invest in the fish value-addition processes like filleting, smoking, and freezing, urging Government to explore technology that can facilitate freezing of catfish to preserve it for sale and add value in the sector.
“There is also the need to provide online markets for stakeholders in the fisheries sector,” the stakeholders opined.
On the poultry and piggery value chains, the Summit appreciated the efforts of the State Government, especially the Estates initiatives, stating the need for an upgrade and calling for increased empowerment of value-chain actors in terms of input, production, assets and infrastructural support.
The summit also considered issues relating to agriculture and food security towards developing strategies for attaining sustainable food security and improved nutrition, employment generation and wealth creation through a combination of business and development platforms in a partnership between government and the private sector.