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In Lagos... People Learn How to Fish

Published on 2 June, 2006, Last updated at 07:03 GMT

June 2nd, Lagos, NIGERIA: Recognising the potential and need to engage in the production of more food to cater for the teaming population of the state, Lagos State Government is establishing fish farm estates across the three senatorial zones. One of such estates was recently commissioned in Ikorodu.

Recently, the Deputy Governor of Lagos State Chief Olufemi Pedro paid a visit to the Ikorodu Fish Farm Estate, in the Ikorodu outskirt of the metropolis. Pedro who represented Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu told the allottees of the fish farm estate to maintain the structure as a strictly firm farm estate and not to turn it to residential buildings.

Pedro who was accompanied by other government officials said the advantage of the project was that the estate is located just by the road side such that it could be dualised in future thereby creating awareness and increase in the demand for the fish ponds. He urged the allottees to take advantage and buy their own plots because in the next five to ten years, more people will regret for not investing in the areas.

He therefore directed the Ministry of Rural Development to conduct an assessment of the estate such that adequate electrification and road network will be provided as quickly as possible. Pedro also singled out the Commissioner of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Mr. Kaoli Olusanya and staff for their vision, foresight and dedication saying that this is another solid evidence of public-private sector partnership development drive in the state.

Olusanya who was quite excited on the project told the Deputy Governor and his entourage that the first pond in the estate was stocked on April 12, by Fishville Nigerian Limited, a cooperative organisation on ground and that 10,000 juveniles of catfish were stocked. He further explained that the first cropping of fish in the estate was expected between September and October, stressing that the fish farming estate is 100 per cent private sector funded with the state government only providing the land and enabling environment and also fishery officials to tend the fish to healthy maturity. The commissioner expressed joy that the allottees were fully ready to take possession of their ponds and to start business of fish production immediately.

It would be recalled that Lagos State is a maritime area with about 180 kilometre coastline of the Atlantic Ocean and 21 per cent of the total land mass is an extensive network of lagoons and creeks which enable it to have a comparative advantage over most other states in fish production. Since the state is more aquatic than terrestrial, concerted effort has been put in place to boost fish production.

Since the state agricultural policy de-emphasise direct food production, it became necessary to encourage private sector participation. By so doing, fish would be made available to the citizens and the young at a very reasonable price towards ensuring food security in the state in particular and Nigeria in general.

With Lagos as an urban state, it imposes a great pressure on land within the state for physical development and in some cases at the expense of agricultural land. To consolidate holding on agricultural land therefore, the concept of agricultural estate to reduce the level of encroachment and encourage full utilisation of farm land was embarked upon. It was in pursuance of this initiative that the Ikorodu Fish Farming Estate was executed.

The establishment of the Ikorodu fish Farm Estate, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative, was another bold step of the Tinubu Administration aimed at increasing fish production in the state. The Ministry believes that it’s an investment that guarantees good returns in minimum time and at the same time contribute to the overall fish production. It also believes that it will save the huge foreign exchange spent on the importation of fish into the country which stood at about N30 billion in 2002 alone.

The concept of the Ikorodu Fish Farm Estate is therefore one of the major strategies of addressing the supply/demand gap of over one million tonnes per annum. The fish farm in Ikorodu is being developed on a 34 hectres of land along the Ikorodu-Shagamu road, a location which was part of the farm settlement scheme. The estate was surveyed and laid out into about 200 plots, which were allocated to individuals for the sole purpose of fish production.

Each allotment is about 700 square metres and has provision for two bedroom prototype farm houses, six production ponds of size 6m by 4m by 1m with a production capacity of 18 tonnes production cycle and an ample space for car park. The original concept was to allocate the lands to experienced operators for the provision of common services such as hatchery, fish feed mill, processing centre, fish market, warehouse, shopping complex and recreational centre. Others are service station, police station, banks and restaurants. In addition to this, infrastructures like road, water, drainage and electricity will be provided.

Like the commissioner reiterated, the project is to be entirely private sector driven while the role of government would be limited to provision of enabling environment for successful project implementation and monitoring to ensure compliance. The new strategy, according to the Lagos State government, which is being adopted to facilitate the implementation of the project, includes identification of cost of provision of basic infrastructure which has been estimated at N750, 000/allotee and cost of three production ponds of size 6m by 4m by 1m also estimated at N750,000/allotee giving a grand total of N1.5 million allottees.

“It therefore means that for an applicant to be allocated a plot in the estate, he would need to deposit a sum of N1.5million. Allocation would be on a first come first serve basis, meaning that the first 200 applicants to make the deposit would guarantee allocation. The fund so paid will be managed by the implementation committee with representatives of allottees (elected through cooperative society) as members,” the ministry said in the introductory document.

According to the document, 50 per cent of the money paid was applied for site layout and title document, land clearing, provision of electricity, road, water, and drainage facilities, while the remaining 50 per cent was used for the provision of three production ponds of size 6m by 4m by 1m.

Meanwhile, the state government has noted the overwhelming response of members of the public which was expressed through the sales of over 800 expressions of interest forms had shown that fish farm initiative is well accepted and it is therefore “Our intention to replicate these project in each of the two other senatorial districts of the state before the end of the present administration.

“The opportunities created by the initiative are enormous and includes provision of enabling environment for fish production, guarantees good returns on investment in minimum time, conservation of scarce foreign exchange expended on fish importation, provision of employment for the teeming youth population as well as improvement in the socio economic standard of the inhabitants of the area.

Other opportunities it presents also include establishment of small and medium scale enterprises to cater for the needs of fish farmers such as hatcheries, feed mill and fish processing centre, better regulatory control of the environment by regulatory bodies as well as increase in fish production to satisfy the protein needs of the growing population in line with food for life programme of the state government.

With the potential success of the Ikorodu project, government plans such farm estates in Ayobo with 17 hectares of land, Gberigbe with 40 hectares and in Araga poultry estate in Epe which will take off in September. With all these arrangement the state hopes to be a major fish production city in Nigeria and even within the West Africa sub-region.

By Roland Ogbonnaya.


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