The Lagos State Government through the Agro-Productivity, Processing, Enhancement and Livelihood Support (APPEALS) project has donated a blast freezer to the Lagos State Catfish Association of Nigeria (LASCAFAN), Ikorodu Chapter.
Speaking during the unveiling of the project and the introduction of frozen catfish on Tuesday in Ikorodu, Ms Abisola Olusanya, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, said the project was to promote value addition.
Olusanya noted that the introduction of the frozen catfish would address and deliver fish farmers from the crush of fish mongers who determine price without recourse to cost of production.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a blast freezer is a specially designed blast/fast-freeze meat, fish, chicken and other food items, with an operating temperature ranging between 24 and 40°C.
The blast freezer has a capacity of half-a-ton per cycle with about eight-hours cooling and can process one ton of fish daily.
The catfish is fresh fish with no addictive and no preservative.
She said Lagos State with a population of about 25 million people require 425,009 tonnes of fish demand per annum, in line with the World Health Organisation recommendation of 17kg fish protein intake per person per annum.
The commissioner was represented by the Director of Fisheries, Mrs Daisi Osunkoya.
She said this was against the current fish production figure of about 198,706 tons per annum.
The commissioner noted that fish, a major source of protein, is low in cholesterol making it medically acceptable to young and old people.
She said the flexibility of fish farming encouraged the involvement of both older and younger people in fish farming, as a means of livelihood.
According to her, catfish farming has dominated the aquaculture industry in Lagos State and Nigeria for more than two decades because of its handiness, fast growth, and acceptance of artificial feed, among others.
“Over the years, marketing has been a major challenge to fish farmers across the country.
“The introduction of the frozen catfish will address and deliver our fish farmers from fish mongers who determines price without recourse to cost of production.
“This will give the farmers the opportunity to set good price for their product and in turn expand their production,” she said.
She added that there was awareness among people now that fish possess a collection of lipids which along with the flavour enhances amino acid.
“Fish protein has been acclaimed to be healthier for consumption than meat especially as one starts getting advanced in age, which leads to a higher demand for fish produce.
“I congratulate the beneficiaries of the project and urged them to make good use of the golden opportunity to boost fish production and fish preservation in Lagos State,” she said.
Also, Chief Abiodun Ogunleye, a former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, said projects like this would reduce the cost of importation in the country.
Ogunleye said the project would regulate price, stability, improve value and boost export opportunity.
He said the project would address post harvest losses adding that it was a great step in the right direction.
He said majority of items being imported into the country could be substituted locally, while urging people to patronise made in Nigeria fish.
“There are some people who engage in lazy aspect of economy, importing alone but I have refused to import maybe that is why I am like this.
“I believe we are wasting Nigeria’s hard earn foreign exchange on importation.
“With more projects like this, we will reduce our dependency on imported goods, we have to grow what we eat, and eat what we grow and also export,” he said.
“One in Badagry, now Ikorodu, and we will have the third in Agege soon.
“We will no longer sell our fish under pressure, we can now manage our production and market,” he said.
He said the aquaculture value chain if properly harnessed would replace fuel in terms of revenue generation for the country.
Mrs Omolara Oguntuyi, the Lagos State Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, said the ministry would continue to support the association.
Oguntuji urged the farmers to take proper care of the project and to transfer the knowledge to their children.
“Lagos is setting the pace in fish production but I think Lagos own the fish and it is a good thing that you are doing what you are doing.
“Protein is in high shortage in Nigeria and everybody can bear me witness that even common people cannot source for protein because they are very expensive.
“What you are doing will stabilise the price of fish and also address wastage.
“If for just these two purpose, I think you have done very well,” she said.
Mr Deola Banjo, Chairman, Ikorodu North Local Council Development Area, noted that the initiative would be a game-changer for storage of agricultural produce in the council.
Banjo said the significance of a blast freezer cannot be over-emphasised as it would in no small measure impact positively on the storage and preservation of farm produce.
He said the project would lead to increased productivity and profitability for farmers. (NAN)