-IKODASS, Farmers to partner on food security
Members of the Ikorodu branch of the Lagos State Catfish & Allied Farmers Association of Nigeria (LASCAFAN) are set to farm Tilapia fish in commercial quantities in addition to their traditional cat fish rearing.
This was one of the major focuses of the association at its meeting held at the Ikorodu West Local Council Development Area (LCDA) during the week.
The association, which has as its primary aims farm improvement and profitability for its members, also had heads of governmental units at the meeting to address its members on some beneficial government policies which they can access.
Chairman of the association, Mr Olatoye Fajimi, addressing members of the association, said that the purpose of introducing the Tilapia farming is to ensure that members of the association go into the farming of the fish as an association.
Fajimi, who said that demands by consumers encouraged the initiative, also stated that the Ministry of Agriculture has successfully cultured the fish in Badagry while also adding that efforts are in place to improve on observations noted during the exercise.
LASCAFAN Chairman also revealed that the association will be partnering with the Department of Fisheries, Lagos State Polytechnic, regarding the training of students in practical fish farming with the intention of building graduates with adept farming knowledge and who will also be employable.
In an interview with our reporter, Mr Fajimi further provided insight into the association’s programmes.
“We are looking for the means of expanding our streams of income and in addition, we have demand from customers who don't take catfish on personal and religious grounds.
“There are also others who have been advised to take fish with scales on health ground.
“So, some of our customers need something different that is why we are looking at exploring the growing of tilapia alongside our traditional catfish farming. We are not in any way abandoning catfish”, he added.
He described the association’s partnership with the government as a win – win situation.
“So far, it’s been a win – win in several ways. You know that the government develops programmes and we carry them out. In our meeting today, we brought some heads of the government agencies to explain what they are doing.
“Through this way, we get direct information and work more effectively. We ensure that policies and programs developed by the government agencies are effectively carried out. So, that is the kind of relationship we have”, he explained.
Fajimi, who said that the association will also be partnering with the Ikorodu – Oga Development Association (IKODASS), added that the association will be participating in the Food Festival that the cultural association will be staging later in the year.
“Well, we are getting the information concerning the Food Festival by IKODASS afresh. We don’t have all the full details yet. But since it is a food festival and we are farmers who are concerned with food security and as such we are ready to partner with IKODASS to make the Ikorodu food festival a success”, he said.
“We will not only be selling our produce at the festival but also use the opportunity to have direct contact with the consumers”.
Mr Rotimi Erogbogbo, the Chairman, Ikorodu – Oga Development Association (KODASS) who was a guest at the fish farmers’ meeting, assured them of mutual cooperation between the two organisations.
“IKODASS will see to ways in working with your body and evolve how to have mutual benefits.
“In the area of agriculture, there is no limit to what IKODASS can do with you and we can also help reach out to the government on your behalf.
He emphasized the need for the LASCAFAN to engage in processing and packaging to have full benefits of their produce.
“When you produce and do not process, all your efforts will be gained by someone else who is not producing but processing your produce”, Erogbogbo said.
“This is an area that we have to look into together so that farmers can have maximum benefits from their sweat.
The IKODASS Chairman also introduced the upcoming Food Festival facilitated by IKODASS and extended invitation to the fish farmers.
“We are planning to institute a food festival in Ikorodu as a way of promoting our local foods, especially as a means of bringing back some local delicacies which have now gone into extinction.
“At this festival, we intend to bring all our farmers together and create a market for their produce”, Erogbogbo said.
Mr Alowonle, an official of FADAMA who came to address the fish farmers on Nigeria COVID 19 Action Recovery & Economic Stimulus, said that the programme is an assistance made available for small and medium scale businesses adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
He said that the fund is being bankrolled by the World Bank and will only operate for 37 months in all the 37 states and Abuja, adding that all kinds of farmers are being targeted.
Also, Mr Sunday Alegbe, an officer from NISER, a subsidiary of the Central Bank of Nigeria, lectured LASCAFAN members on how they can access loan and other facilities available while an Extension officer from the Ministry of Agriculture also explained government policies and how the farmers could benefit from them.
More so, an agricultural expert, Mr Femi Dairo, engaged the association on how members can improve their farms and maximize profits.