From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta

Former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, expressed his fear that rise in cost of diesel as well as constant increase in prices of feeds may eventually run Nigerian fish farmers out of business.

He said unless farmers come together to agree on sustainable prices that could be adopted, many fish farmers would be bankrupt.

The former president, who is also into fish farming, said farmers can no longer be producing at the mercy of the buyers who will come around to buy the fish for whatever amount that suit them without taking into account the effect of the current economic effect on the production of such fishes.

Speaking during a congress of South West Fish Farmers Price Sustainability Group, at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, Obasanjo said it was time fish farmers agreed on minimum price they intend selling their fish per kilogram, henceforth.”

He said with the current price of diesel at 800 per litre, production of a kilogram of fish is N1,400 and that to make very marginal profit, the farmers can’t sell less than N1,500 as anything different is outright loss.

“We are practically here today to ensure our sustainability in the fishing business and what we have to do by selling at profitable price. If we don’t come together as an association, nationally, we will sink individually. If we come together, we will swim and survive together.

“And while we are working on coming together, I thought  the situation has arisen whereby we have to do something urgently.

“The price of diesel has gone sky high because the management of this country is not what it should be. And it is as simple as that. Then, what will happen is that, particularly those of us who have to use a bit of diesel in producing fish, we will completely go bankrupt, and when that happens, Nigerians will still have to eat fish.

“Fish production will be out of reach and then, people will be producing fish outside Nigeria and be dumping it here. And you will go jobless, poor and indigent. So, what do we have to do? To come together, sustain fish production and we must be able to take care of those who are going to eat and those of us who are producing,” Obasanjo said.

President of the group, Amo Tunbosun Amo, disclosed the country currently consumes around 3.6 million metric tonnes of fish annually but only produce 1.12 million tonnes leaving a balance of 2.6 millions tonnes to be imported.

He said one of the major challenges confronting the fish farmers is the continued increase in the prices of inputs in production, majorly the feed and the refusal of the buyers to buy the fish at commensurate price.

He, however, urged the Federal Government to help dredge various waterways to prevent floods that have made many fish farmers lose millions of their investment.

“For instance, the Ikangba/Agoro fish farmers via Ijebu Ode recently lost over N500 million investment, same thing happened at Eriwe too last year leading to loss of N600 million. The Federal Government should help to dredge Eriwe waterways as well as Yemule River to combat this annual losses,” he said.

Steve Okeleji, convener of the congress, said the fish farmers have decided to come together to rescue the industry.

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Source: news