The FEDERAL government has stated that it plans to put an end to fish importation in the country within the next two years, adding that it had already engaged with fish importers to consider going into fish farming and production locally.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, said this during the 35th Annual Conference of the Fisheries Society of Nigeria, in Abuja, yesterday.

He said the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration has initiated and is currently implementing programmes, mostly in the agricultural sector to help boost and diversify the economy.

Nanono noted that fish importation shall endure a drastic fall, as more citizens are beginning to engage in production and farming of fish locally

The minister who was represented at the 35th annual Fishery Conference by the director of Federal Department of Fisheries, Mr Imeh Umoh, asserted that an estimated 12million Nigerians are actively involved in primary fish production, adding that the fishing industry contributes a 4.5 per cent to the nation’s gross domestic products, GDP.

“Let me inform you that the vision of Mr President is to grow Nigeria’s agriculture sector to achieve a hunger-free nation, through agriculture that drives income growth, accelerate the achievement of food and nutritional security, generate employment and transform Nigeria into a leading player in the group of food and fish markets, and to create wealth for millions.

“It is in this regard that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, under this present administration, is pursuing a holistic approach to the development of the fisheries sub-sector through the diversification programme along the value chain process.

“In line with the theme of this conference, the ministry has developed various programmes to increase domestic food/fish production and the main target is the empowerment of the youth and other groups especially the women. All these programmes are tailored towards wealth and jobs creation, arrest and prevention of youth restiveness. Currently, the total demand for fish is 3.6million tonnes annually while Nigerian is producing 1.1million tonnes, leaving a deficit of about 2.5million tonnes to be supplemented by importation,” he added.

He said as part of the measures of the ministry to reduce the importation and generate employment, the government has directed all fish importers to go into backwards integration for local consumption and export to the international market.