As generally known, fish farming is a branch of agriculture that deals with breeding fish commercially in an enclosure such as fish ponds so as to be sold as food. Today, it is regarded as the fastest growing area of animal food production. About half of the fish consumed globally are raised in these artificial environments.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, about 32% of world fish stock is overexploited and depleted because of the problem of over-fishing. Due to this problem, there’s, therefore, an urgent need for humans to start rebuilding this already depleted population of fish before we run out of fishes completely.
Fish farming has however been applauded as the way to go. According to analysts, the only solution to this problem lies in the concept of more people delving into the act of fish farming. Herein lies a great opportunity developing/struggling African countries need to exploit in order to generate even more foreign exchange for themselves.
A study conducted by United Nations Conference on Trade Development (UNCTDA) stated that fish is one of the world’s most traded commodities and with the growing global population estimated to hit about 9.7 billion people by the year 2050, the demand for fish would also increase. This, as mentioned already offers valuable trade opportunities.
The study also further stated that in addition to human consumption, the industrial need for fishery resources is projected to rise in the coming decades due to the growing demand for fish oil and animal feed. Wild catch alone will not sustain the increase in demand for fish therefore, there should be a deliberate action by Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to enhance aquaculture development so as to meet this increase in demand.
Furthermore, the study emphatically expressed the idea that fish farming holds a lot of economic, social, and environmental benefits for a number of least developed countries owing to the fact that they already have a cheap cost of labor as well as water bodies ladened with rich varieties of fish.
Indeed, the fishery sector is a viable source of export-led growth which many Least Developed Countries, especially the ones in Africa need to cash in on to facilitate quick developments. This would engender the creation of more employments and more foreign exchange earnings.
Bringing it home, the Nigerian government and other stakeholders need to look into this area of the economy that has received diminutive or no support at all. Fish farming has thus far been done in Nigeria on a very small scale and for the most part by subsistent farmers who do so just to feed their immediate families. If Nigeria as a country must meet its sustainable development goals (SDGs) then sectors such as this can no longer be marginalized.
Apart from the economic profitability, a well-developed fishery sector can help the country to tackle the food insecurity and malnutrition problem bedeviling us today. Fish is a very good source of protein and also provides other kinds of health benefits.
Part of the ways the government and other stakeholders can contribute meaningfully to fish farming is by supporting individuals and corporate entities that are willing to delve into the trade. This can be achieved by creating viable finance or credit facilities that are easily accessible by persons or entities involved.
Also, the creation of an enabling environment will productively encourage those who want to go into the practice on a large scale basis. An enabling environment that involves good channels of transporting the products when they are ready to be sold, good storage facilities, as well as dissolving any form of trade barrier that exists as far as fish products are concerned. This is my humble opinion is a feasible way of maximizing the potentials that are inherent in fish farming.
Finally, I would like to applaud individuals and organizations that have despite the daunting challenges faced, have braved the odds in doing what they do to ensure that we do not over-fish our natural waters and be left with no fish at all. I do believe that with the right approach and an enabling environment we would get it right and reap the benefit that is ingrained in fish farming.