OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives on Tuesday resolved to investigate the incessant issuance of fish importation licence by the ministry of agriculture.
The decision is sequel to a motion of urgent public importance moved by Jonathan Gaza (PDP, Nasarawa) during plenary.
Leading the debate on the motion, Gaza stated that “in the last few years, Nigeria has gone through a recession and has resurfaced and this recovery can be largely attributed to the diversification at our economy especially in the field of agriculture:
He noted “that fisheries which is on important sub-sector of Nigerian agriculture with the country being rich in perennial rivers (Benue. Niger, Ogun, Osun etc) and takes like kanji and other dams and ponds, and has also attracted a large influx of fish farmers using latest technology has led to an increase in fish production and employment;
“in the past, the minister of state for agriculture during a meeting with the Ijebu initiative on poverty reduction (IDIPR) in Abuja sometime in August 2017, stated that the Federal Government will stop issuing fish importation quota to importers saying the venture was no longer sustainable.
“Frantic calls have been made by various quotas including this hallowed chambers to ban the importation of fish into the country as it has a negative effect on our economy and also on our health as we cannot ascertain the total health status of all the fish imported into this country all the time. “
The lawmaker from Nasarawa also noted that the situation is turning Nigeria into a dumping ground for fish products at the detriment of local fish farmers.
Reacting to the motion, the Deputy Speaker of the House, Lasun Yusuf (APC, Osun) noted that the importation is meant to fill the gap as a result of inability of Nigerian farmers to meet the demand of consumers.
“We have production capacity of 1.2million tonnes, but our need is about 4million tonnes,” he said adding: “That is the gap those given licences are supposed to fill. As legislature, all we can do is to talk, in the era where bills are being returned with speed of light. The executive must show the commitment.
Lasun therefore called on the federal government to subsidize the agricultural sector by minimum of 50%.
Also speaking on the motion, Nicholas Osas (PDP, Delta) stated that the motion requires investigation to understand the situation.
“Is there a shortage of fish in this country? Do we have a national plan to fill this gap? This is an investigative matter. If demand is greater than supply, there is a shortfall, and we need to investigate. When you suggest ban, it’s for local industry to thrive. This motion will unravel a lot. Policy formulation should start from the House.”
Muhammed Monguno (APC, Borno), the Chairman of the House committee on Agriculture while explaining the situation said that there is plan by federal government to end importation of fish.
“It is true that there is deficit in our production, hence importation. Over the years the fishery sector have been neglected by successive governments. It is true that licences have been given by Ministry of Agriculture, steps are being taken, as steps are taken to fill in the gap and stop importation in the next few years,” he noted
The House therefore resolved to “set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate all licenses granted for fish importation within the last one year” and also “request the federal ministry of agriculture and the bank of Agriculture to provide incentives to local fish farmers that would boost up production.”
The ad-committee is expected to conclude the assignment within two weeks and report back to the house for further legislative action.