Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, said this during an interactive section with the management of Triton Aqua, one of the leading stakeholders in Nigeria's fishery
sector, during their courtesy call to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development head office, in Abuja.
He said that a whooping $700 million (about N210 billion) is spent annually on importation of fish.
The minister said it was no longer sustainable for the present administration under President
Muhammadu Buhari, to continue to spend such amount on fish imports at this period when the Nigerian economy had slipped into recession.
He said that more funds would be provided to the research institutes to scale up research work into the local production of other fish species, apart
from the regular catfish and Tilapia.
His words: "Government can no longer sustain the high importation bill on fish. We need to start looking inwards to see how Nigeria can produce some of these fish both for local consumption and importation ."
He added that government will encourage 'massive investment' in artisanal fish to meet the protein needs
The minister pledged to collaborate with Triton Aqua on fish production to reduce the annual fish import bill.
Ogbeh urged the company to train
more people in fish production so as to have sources of livelihood.
The minister said that the ministry had acquired 100 hectares of land in Gaube area of the Federal Capital Territory and it will be developed similar to the Songhai farm in Kwara state, where young people will be trained on modern farming techniques.
Chairman, Triton Aqua, Ashvaran Samtani, called on government to support the company in acquisition of land for expansion of its investment
and to access the Gurara Dam in Kaduna State and Doma Lake in Nasarawa State.
"We are also going to produce 70,000 metric tonnes of catfish and tilapia with the government's support in five years and create 3,000 jobs for young people in Nigeria. We are also setting up our feed and hatchery company. We used to be a trading company, but now a producer, which is in line with government's drive to diversify the economy," Samtani said.