BY DIKACHI ELEMBA
To provide for adequate food security for Nigeria’s growing population of about 200 million people, as well as close the widening gap of fish demand of about 1.5 million metric tonnes per annum against just 600,000 metric tonnes produced locally, fish farmers and budding fish farmers have been called upon to increase their investment in the production of catfish, noting that the huge deficit is being met through importation of frozen fish.
Chris Anyanwu, head of department, fisheries and aquaculture technology, Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), also said that eating fish, especially catfish, has a lot of health benefits.
He urged that farmers should invest more in farming and production of catfish fingerlings and other species to reduce the widening gap between annual demand of fish and local production.
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Anyanwu decried the cost of fish feed and the cost of other things which have added to the production costs of fish in the country, especially for farmers who are investing into the catfish business.
People should go into quality processing of fish, such as fish smoking, and acquire the required equipment for the business.
Because of the demand for catfish in the country and the growing population, Anyanwu said there are huge opportunities for those who are into or would invest in catfish production.
Meanwhile, Chima Ifekwe, the director of operations, JLN Farm Division, a subsidiary of JLN Agric Implementation Services, said that many people now travel to different towns looking for catfish because there is a huge market for it in the country.
The demand for catfish in the country will continue to rise because of people’s demand and the demand by standard hotels that are springing up, as well as restaurants, eateries, the food vendors etc in almost every nook and cranny in the urban areas, he explained.
On the health benefits, Anyanwu noted that catfish is a good source of various nutrients and low in calories. According to him, catfish contains Omega-H3 fatty acids, and helps to treat memory loss, attention and mental conditions, among others.
Moreover, he said, fish is a good source of Vitamin B12, and that catfish is outstanding because it improves mental health, protects against heart disease as well as prevention and treatment of anaemia.