The researchers analyzed how Nigeria can achieve its goal of producing 2.5 million tonnes of farmed fish per year and believe their work could provide similar insights in other countries.
Experts from the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling (UK) have for the first time used country-scale scenario analysis for aquaculture in Africa to examine the changes needed to achieve Nigeria’s target, set in 2017.
Fish is one of the cheapest sources of protein and already contributes significantly to the diet of Nigeria’s growing population, but current production of farmed fish is around 300,000 tonnes per year. The industry is often overlooked compared to agriculture – the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy – and its main export, crude oil, the researchers said.
Suleiman Yakubu, PhD researcher at the Institute of Aquaculture, said: “Nigeria is the second largest producer of farmed fish in Africa after Egypt, but we still have a long way to go before we can reach the aquaculture potential of 2.5 million tonnes estimated by the government. . We wanted to answer the question, is this achievable by 2035? And if so, how can this be done in a sustainable way? »
Overcome the obstacles
The researchers began by using interviews with stakeholders to identify four priority constraints: the cost and availability of fish feed; land use; the intersection of policy and investment in research.
They then used scenario analysis – a mix of qualitative and quantitative modeling principles – to assess which combinations of factors would put Nigeria on track to achieve its goal.
Mr. Yakubu said, “Only one of the many scenarios tested allowed Nigeria to reach its potential against the critical factors.
“First of all, it is necessary to improve farmers’ access to quality fish feed by developing local feed resources. Currently, more than half of fish feed is imported, which is prohibitively expensive and inefficient.
“Secondly, the promotion of aquaculture in land use classification in Nigeria would enable the activity to be included in land use zoning plans and to designate expansion areas for larger production. Currently, about 80 percent of fish farming in Nigeria is done in small-scale ponds in urban and peri-urban areas, with no scope for expansion and no means of monitoring.
“Third, the aquaculture sector interacts with several other policy areas – such as import policy, land use, water use and poverty reduction – so these intersections must be incorporated into the planning.
“Finally, investment in research is essential to better link researchers to the aquaculture industry, in order to increase productivity and yield, while improving our understanding of the impacts of climate change. All of this would ultimately reduce the cost of aquaculture production in the country.
Scenario analysis has been used to explore the potential of aquaculture at global and regional scales, but not yet at the national level in Africa, which the researchers say is more useful for understanding and planning for changes. must occur.
“Our modeling shows that if things continue as they are, Nigeria will see only marginal development of its aquaculture sector compared to what it aspires to be,” Yakubu said.
Professor Trevor Telfer, thesis supervisor of the research, said: “Aquaculture is growing rapidly, as is the world’s population, and can offer a sustainable, low-input way of feeding people. Using data in this way to model scenarios offers an innovative method for governments and industry to collaboratively plan the sustainable expansion of complex sectors such as aquaculture.
The research was funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission. The article, Scenario Analysis and Land Use Change Modeling Reveals Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainable Aquaculture Expansion in Nigeria, is published in Aquaculture Reports.