Abeokuta—A former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has said the increase in the price of diesel as well as the exchange rate in the country is taking a toll on his fish business.
According to Premium Times, Obasanjo spoke on Tuesday at his residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State during a Congress of the South-west Fish Farmers Price Sustainability Group.
The former president who owns a fish farm noted that the rise in the cost of diesel, as well as constant increase in prices of fish feeds, will eventually run Nigerian fish farmers out of business.
He advised the farmers to agree on sustainable prices that could be adopted to keep them in business.
He said, “The current price of diesel at 800 (naira) per litre, production of a kilogramme of fish is N1,400. In order to make very marginal profit, the farmers can’t sell less than N1,500 as anything short of that amounts to outright loss,” said the former president.
He further said farmers can no longer be producing at the mercy of the buyers who would come around to buy the fish for whatever amount that suits them without taking into consideration the effect of the current economic prices on the production of such fishes.
“The price of diesel has gone high because the management of this country is not what it should be.
“And it is as simple as that. Then, what will happen is that particularly those of us who have to use a bit of diesel in producing fish, we will completely go bankrupt, and when that happens, Nigerians will still have to eat fish.
“Fish production will be out of reach and then, people will be producing fish outside Nigeria and be dumping it here.
“And you will go jobless, poor, and indigent. So, what do we have to do? To come together…we want to sustain fish production and we must be able to take care of those who are going to eat and those of us who are producing.”
He also asked the farmers, “How many of you are using diesel in your production? Because I use diesel and I’m already sweating. I’m already sweating.”
The President of the group, Amoo Tunbosun, said the country currently consumes around 3.6 million metric tonnes of fish annually but only produces 1.1 million tonnes, leaving a balance of 2.6 (5) million tonnes to be imported.
“This is the essence of this gathering, we find out that we have to take our destiny into our hands, we can’t continue to produce and be at the mercy of the buyers, we feel we need to come around and do something for ourselves. We are starting with South-west and in a matter of time it will be all over the country.”
The convener of the congress, Steve Okeleji, said the fish farmers have decided to come together to rescue the industry.
“If everything were to be right with our economy, this congress wouldn’t have been necessary.
“So, the farmers must be heard. We are also virtually key players in the industry. In fact, we play an important role across the value chain of the industry. But the major challenge we have over time is that we are not able to speak with one voice.”