The Federal Government has identified Ogun State as one of the key partners in the growth of fisheries in Nigeria.
Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri who made this assertion when he commissioned four projects built by his ministry in Eriwe, Ijebu-Ode, said Government is particularly interested in Ogun State because, “If agriculture succeeds in Ogun, agriculture has succeeded in Nigeria.”
The four projects, which were commissioned by the minister last week for the Eriwe fishing farm estate are a feed mill, cold room, fish market and the processing unit.
The projects are all intended to make the estate a real fish farming cluster where the farmers will fully appropriate all the advantages of fish farming value chain.
The Eriwe fish farms, which has over 3,000 fish ponds scattered over an estimated 156 hectares of land area, with an average fish farming production turnover of about 2,500 metric tonnes annually and income generation of about N2 billion annually, is the biggest fish farming estate in Africa.
At the commissioning of the projects in Eriwe community, which had in attendance, members of the board of trustees of Ijebu Development Initiative on Poverty Reduction (IDIPR), board of directors, traditional rulers and members of the community Lokpobiri eugolized the people for their self-help efforts and commitment to consciously work themselves out of poverty.
The minister particularly appreciated the efforts of the Eriwe community in fish farming, which he noted, has assisted the Government grow the fishery sector in Nigeria. He revealed that when the present administration came to power, the local production of fish was only about 600,000 metric tonnes, but with the support of the likes of the Eriwe community, that figure has been increased to about 1.1 million metric tonnes, which represents almost 100 per cent increment.
According to Lokpobiri, there is still a lot to be done because our national demand is about 3.5 million metric tonnes and we are producing only about 1.1 million metric tonnes, which means that we are only producing about one third of our national demand.
The uniqueness and success of the fish farming project is that it is a community-based initiative, run and managed by a community-based Non-Government Organisation (NGO) of the people, the IDIPR and targeted at lifting the people of the community out of poverty.
Besides its commitment to the Eriwe fish farm project, the Federal Government, according to Lokpobikri is also intervening in some other areas in Ogun State, like the construction of rural roads to enable easy evacuation of farm produce, rehabilitation of some moribund farms in the state, establishment of cocoa and rubber plantations among others.
With the successes recorded in fishing, the people of Eriwe community have begun to diversify into other agricultural projects, like, poultry farming; piggery and presently, they have also acquired land outside the estate to do cocoa farming and plantation.
The Eriwe community also has another project principally for rubber. They have entered into agreement with Michelin who will supply the seedlings and will also buy back the end product.
SA, Media to the Hon. Minister of State