Transformation and Future of Aquatic Food Systems in Nigeria

Nigeria is now the largest importer of fish in Africa. Despite having real potential to be self sufficient, Its domestic supply does not yet meet even half of its yearly requirement of 3.5 million tonnesFortunately, there are many strategies today which can help Nigeria grow its own production to help provide affordable, and sustainable, healthy diets, and other economic benefits for its citizens 

Professor Baba Yusuf Abubakar, Board Chair, WorldFish 

This brief

The Global Panel assisted the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Transformation and Future of Aquatic Food Systems in Nigeria in the production of this brief. It makes a range of recommendations in five areas (research and infrastructure development; collaboration, partnerships, and investments; fisheries and aquaculture governance; resource conservation, environmental protection, climate change resilience; and sustainable livelihoods and inclusiveness) to address the critical challenges facing the aquatic foods and aquaculture sector in Nigeria. The brief is an outcome of the National Dialogue on Transformation and Future of Aquatic Food Systems held in Nigeria in 2021 which contributed to Nigeria’s participation in the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS).  

 The need for action

Deficiencies in micronutrients lead to one million premature deaths annually, and dietary inadequacies are one of the most pressing reasons for people experiencing multiple nutrient deficiencies and subsequent morbidity and mortality. Aquatic foods have very considerable potential in helping to fill these nutrient gaps and improve diet quality, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The production of aquatic foods in Nigeria currently contributes about one third to total national domestic fish production. However, it has the potential to grow three-fold and transform the country from a net fish-importing country to a self-sufficient and fish exporting country, with the benefits of earning substantial foreign exchange. 

There is a real opportunity here for a dynamic cross-sectoral national strategy, providing direction and coherence for the transformation and development of the Nigerian aquatic food system. Such a strategy would align with the national UNFSS commitments that Nigeria made in September 2021 to transform its food systems. The strategy would set national goals to strengthen the aquatic foods and aquaculture sector, to help eliminate malnutrition and malnourishment, improve livelihoods, eradicate poverty, create competitive value chains, increase fish export earnings and help progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Press release

The launch event was covered by a range of media:

Daily Trust

Nigerian Tribune

The Sun, Nigeria 

"As this policy brief demonstrates, prioritising the aquatic food system in Nigeria is an important and timely opportunity to drive forward the rapid changes that we need to see in our food systems"

Sir John Beddington (Chair of the Global Panel)