The Federal Government has been urged to place outright ban on the importation of tilapia, to protect fish farmers and ensure the growth of the aquaculture industry.
Stakeholders in the aquaculture industry who made the appeal
during a meeting with members of the Food and Agriculture Writers Association of Nigeria (FAWON) in Lagos, said the smuggled tilapia would not only prevent local producers from getting ready-made markets, it is also dangerous to health, as it is a reject from other countries.
The National President, Tilapia and Aquaculture Developers Association of Nigeria (TADAN), Remi Ahmed, said farmers are producing a lot and can meet the Tilapia deficit if given the right enabling environment.“We want an outright ban because we are producing a lot and we can meet the tilapia deficit if given the right enabling environment. As long as people are getting this cheap import, the tilapia grown in Nigeria will never compete with them.
“As long as we are getting this cheap import coming in, the tilapia grown in Nigeria will never compete with them, because the basic challenge has to do with pricing. This fish is coming from China and no tariff is being paid on it, so they are selling as cheap as possible to kill the local industry,” he said.
Ahmed further stated that the aquaculture sector might go underground if drastic actions are not taken to stop the smuggling, to allow local production to thrive. “Over the past few years, competition from tilapia smuggled from China into the country has intensified and if drastic actions are not taken to stop the smuggling so as for local production to thrive, the aquaculture sector is in serious trouble,”He said that fish farmers in the country especially tilapia farmers would want government to close down outlets that sell these smuggled fish, stressing that they are cheap because taxes are not paid on them.
Ahmed stressed that the imported fish are not nutritious as the locally breed fish since they are not raised in a good condition as best practices are not followed in raising the fish.“Within the short period tilapia was introduced to Nigeria we have been able to develop and produce tilapia feed that is better than the ones used in most African countries,”
The National Vice President of TADAN, Nurudeen Tiamiyu hinted that Nigerian farmers are having low sales because people are getting cheaper fish elsewhere which are smuggled, noting that they are less concerned where the fish is coming from.
“A normal Nigerian wants to eat fish he will be less concerned where the fish comes from, all he is seeing is cheap fish, so they will always prefer to pick up very cheap fish, which they don’t even know their health implications.“These fishes being brought from China are rejected fishes that cannot enter Europe or America market because of the issue of growth hormones and the very bad water conditions where these fishes are raised in volumes can hamper the health of people but Nigerian are less concerned when it comes to buying cheap fish,”Tiamiyu said
Global Technical Head, Fish–Triton Group, Edna Dionisio, said high production cost is another major challenge facing the industry, saying the cost of feed accounts for 70 to 80 per cent of the total cost of aquaculture.She said feeding of the fishes makes the business less profitable, and that in order to improve the sustainability of tilapia production; it is essential to improve feed efficiency.
Dionisio said the most effective way to support advancement of the sector is to provide a consistent supply of high-quality fish feed products, along with technical support to the industry.She noted that ensuring Nigeria raised tilapia to meet the highest quality standards will not only open the door for local farmers, but also that the products would command much better prices.
She said further that there was need to speed up research and implementation of new innovations and technologies such as genetic improvement of local species and formulation of low cost improved fish feed.