GOVERNOR Babajide Sanwoolu has announced plans to establish the Lagos Aquaculture Centre of Excellence (Lace) as part of an ambitious plan to expand fish production in the state and create thousands of jobs.
Launched as a joint venture between the Lagos State government and a private sector investor, Lace is designed to boost fish production in the state and also create job opportunities. Governor Sanwoolu announced the plan yesterday at the Y2020 edition of the Lagos Seafood Festival held at the Muri Okunola Park, Victoria Island, explaining that the centre is expected to generate no fewer than 5,000 small holder fish farms.
He added that the centre would, in turn, create about 1,000 indirect jobs during the construction phase and another 500 direct jobs opportunities for people that would be engaged at different phases of the project. Governor Sanwoolu pointed out that the project includes the establishment of a 50m fish hatchery facility, a projected 2,000 tonnes per annum table sized fish production schedule, a 24,000 tonne fish feed mill as well as a 20,000 tonne per annum fish and seafood processing centre.
According to the governor, the need to have a private sector driven aquaculture centre arose because the present supply of fish and other seafood products in the state was insufficient to meet the demands of Lagosians. Represented by his deputy Dr Obafemi Hamzat, the governor said that the festival would be quite unique next year as the state government would be employing the use of the deep-sea trawling in order to capture the big fishes in the deeper sea in Lagos.
Governor Sanwoolu added: “We estimate the present supply of fish and other seafood at 174,553 tonnes per annum to be insufficient for Lagosians, therefore, we have collaborated with a private sector investor on the establishment of the Lagos Aquaculture Centre of Excellence to boost fish production. An occasion such as the Lagos Seafood Festival gives us the opportunity to tap into the agriculture value chain in the fish and seafood sector as we seek to diversify our economy for the benefit of our people.”
He pointed out that the reality the state, with a population of more than 22m and a consumer demand for fish and other seafood of 374,000 tonnes annually, is that supply hovers around 155, 262 tonnes per annum. This, the governor said made it imperative for Lagosians to key into and benefit from the value chain attached to the aquatic or fisheries business sector in order to fill the supply deficit.
“Next year by the grace of God, we will engage in the deep-sea trawling that allows us to go inner and get the bigger fishes. That along with our other interventions would allow us to employ close to 10,000 youths in the five divisions of the state.
“Fish or seafood is low in cholesterol when compared with beef consumption and they have a distinct taste that makes food more desirable and very palatable to the consumer. The Lagos Seafood Festival has become a pedestal for talented Lagosians to display their culinary skills in preparing salivating dishes with the abundant aquatic species from the environment,” Governor Sanwoolu said.
Abisola Olusanya, the Lagos State agriculture commissioner, stressed that the contribution of the fisheries value chain to the nation’s socio-economic wealth could not be over-emphasised particularly against the background of employment creation, provision of valuable animal protein, rural development and foreign exchange inflow through the export of shrimps, smoked fish and other fish products. She explained that in 2019 alone, 5,000 tonnes of seafood valued at over N25bn was exported by operators in Nigeria.