The Federal Government has commended the plan by Olam Farm International to introduce Barramundi Culture (Sea Bassa) to the country, promising to support the initiative through partnership with the group in order to improve the nation’s fish production capacity.

The Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, gave the assurance at the weekend in Abuja, during a presentation on the prospect of introducing new marine culture into country by a delegation of Crown Flour Mills and Animal Feeds Production –a subsidiary of Olams International Ltd.

The delegation which was led by the Vice President of Animal Feeds and Protein, Mr. Asish Pende also included Professor Matthew Tan, a Consultant working in the field with private fish farmers in Nigeria and other parts of Africa.

The Minister used the occasion to charge research institutes in the country to lead in the aqua culture reform in order to make it attractive to investors and small fish farm holders.

Lokpobiri, while commending Olam Farms for producing quality feeds at moderate prices and being the leading manufacturer of fish feed products in the country, identified high cost of feeds as the greatest challenge facing fish growers.

The minister also charged the private sector to embrace transfer of the new technology as this will ultimately lead to increase in local production thereby reducing fish importation in the long run.

In his remarks, Pandeh noted that embracing culturing of Sea Bassa in the country would result in good yields, higher productivity, reasonable returns on investment, as well as transfer of relevant technology.

According to him, studies on the nation’s location have shown that Nigeria has abundant land, coastlines and water bodies suitable for fish farming for commercial purposes

Similarly, Prof. Tan, who is from the Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture, James Cook University, Australia, pointed out that the Sea Bassa had the capacity to produce about one to two million eggs at a stretch with potential of its fingerlings reaching a harvest size of 350-500 gms in six to nine months.

Other benefits he listed as derivable from cultivation of Sea Bassa farming model include job creation, potential for improved foreign exchange earnings, amongst others.

The Director of Fisheries Department in the Ministry, Alhaji Muazu Mohammed, said that the ministry was intensifying efforts to increase fish production in the country but stressed the need to diversify production through research in other varieties of local species.

He pointed out that with the transfer of Barramundi culture to the country, there would be a significant increase in the domestic supply of fish.

Attendants at the forum stressed the need for collaboration with the National Institute of Oceanography Marine Research (NIOMR) to find lasting solutions to the problems hindering the growth of the sector such as; fund constraints, lack of adequate research, and high cost of fish feeds.