At Agra Innovate Expo, LCCI Boss Harps On Value Chain Potentials
Nigeria is losing a whopping sum of $2.3b annually to activities of poachers on its high seas, due to the country’s inability to monitor its waters.
Executive Director, Nigerian Institute of Oceanography, Gbola Akande who disclosed this at Agra Innovate West Africa Expo, held at Landmark Centre, Lagos, said if government is determined to address the issue of food security in the country, aquaculture is the best bet to tackle food crisis.
He said Nigeria has the best shrimps in the world and one of the areas the country is getting foreign exchange, but the problem lies with activities of poachers ravaging the country’s high seas.
“Shrimps production is our major source of foreign exchange. Our shrimps are the best in the world. It is now left to farmers to look the way of shrimps farming,” he said.
While noting that Nigeria is only able to produce 968,243mt out of 3,400,000mt fish demand annually, leaving the supply gap of 1,730,000mt, he said about 800,000mt of fish is imported, noting that fish has contributed to food security through employment opportunities, provision of animal protein and other benefits.
He noted that the new policy formulated by government, is that henceforth those importing fish must set up fish farms.
In her keynote address, titled: “Optimising The Potentials Of Agricultural Value Chains And Infrastructure To Strengthen Food Security, Export Capacity And Cross-border Trade In West Africa,” President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Onikepo Akande said farmers in West Africa need modern tools, improved varieties of crops, facilities for weather forecasting, mechanisation support, irrigation facilities, storage facilities, good transportation system, dependable rural access, finance and insurance to be able to embark on productive activities and foster food-based commercial activities within and between countries.
She noted that the term value chain in agriculture, of recent, has been tossed about with reckless abandon, noting that to understand value chain, there is need to follow commodities under consideration from the field to the end-use.
“And the value chains vary in length and character from commodity to commodity. A bulk of interventions needed to fix various commodity value chains, require careful and close examination of the attributes of the commodities under consideration.
“To unlock their potentials therefore, we need to understand their peculiar attributes, challenges, opportunities and diversity of uses. A bulk of agricultural trade within and across West Africa still remains informal, dealing with primary products. Nigeria, in particular, is known to be the source of export of many major staples such as cowpeas, yams, cassava, millet, sorghum, groundnut, Bambara nuts, maize, among others,” she said.
Akande stressed that hundreds of tons of such commodities move daily from major markets such as Dawanau in Kano, Maigateri in Jigawa, Illela in Sokoto, Yauri in Kebbi, to neighbouring countries without official data of transactions. She added that the conversion of currencies for their transactions is done in black markets and so the government loses the opportunities to capture the data on such transactions.
“Quality control and standards on such commodities are non-existent, which means the products on sale in the sub-region hardly meet world-class standards.
On the entire commodities value chains, the critical control points that require attention and remedial measures include labour (on and off field), seed quality, aggregation, processing, transportation, storage, financing, market information system and pricing.
“We must therefore bring efforts to bear on quality, standards and agricultural best practices on the field as well as global best prices post-harvest. These will help in many different ways, namely: reduction of food wastage on-farm, quality assurance of products at harvest, reduction in post-harvest wastage, suitable transportation methods and means, assurance of higher income to farmers, food abundance and poverty reduction, particularly,” she said.