New fish processing hub in Lagos.
The Governments of Norway and Nigeria have concluded plans to establish a N16billion fish processing hub at the Marine Department of the University of Lagos. In this interview with Vanguard Nigeria
, the pioneer Chief Executive of the Centre, Dr. Segun Mogbojuri told Vanguard Maritime Report that the idea is to return Nigeria to the international seafood markets.
What is this collaboration between Norway and University of Lagos, what informed the partnership?
I have been in Lagos for 13 years serving as the agricultural attaché in the Consulate of Malta in Lagos, I have been in the Consular system in Lagos for most part of my life. We have been working with the spectrum of fisheries and aquaculture centres, so we know the challenges. I just pulled out of the Consular service in 2005 to set up my own business in Norway. Being a fishery specialist myself, we are familiar with the need has to push the fishery sector forward in this part of the world. You know we are one nation with a large expanse of sea coast that we are really under utilizing. A lot of maritime potentials, a lot of marine resources are currently being underutilized and we are regrettably not participating in the international seafood market. We are either not managing our fish resources well or we are not producing quality sea foods for export. Ii might surprise to know that about 150 million tons of sea foods are traded annually and you want to ask how many tons Nigeria contribute, I leave that to your imagination. Then about $145billion by the Food and Agricultural Organisation, FAO, statistics of the United Nations report as at 2014. That figure may have gone by now but that is the worth of world fish trade. But what I mean to tell you is that $145billion exchange hands for 150 million tons of sea foods annually. But there are a lot of standards, there are a lot of international standards that restricts Nigeria and Nigerians from participating well in this trade. In fact, our processed sea food exports are banned from the United States and European Union. We cannot process to meet to export quality but these standards are not too stringent, it is because we do not plan from start to the end products. We just want to show up in the market at the end of the day without putting proper processes and procedures in place. You do not cut corners when it comes to international food standards because it is there at the World Trade Organization, WTO. It is the only singular instrument that checks you into the world market, the WTO. For you to get the international food standards right, there are bench marks. So you do not show up at the tail end of the market, you will locked out. What we have done is to come from Norway and to set up this centre to first of all let people get acquainted with the international standards, train a lot of processors, bring people together and encourage people to come into the processing business. So we want to have a processing chain that can produce export quality of sea foods. The advantage of this is to expand our local potentials, we can process our local resources and export, earn foreign exchange and create more jobs. So it is really very amazing what Norway has done. The amazing feat Norway has today is because they have viable processing chains. It enables producers to sell predictably, as sellers can predict their profit. Without that in Nigeria, you are at the mercy of market women who will buy at any price. Most Nigerians in the fishing business really do not break even, so you need processors who can place order round the year and make your investment worthwhile.
What is the Nigerian take in both the 150 million tons of sea foods traded globally and the $145billion made from the trade?
It is regrettable that we are almost absent, Norway earns about $10billion from sea foods exports and Norway export about 1million tons of Salmon fish alone. It is really amazing and regrettable that Nigeria has not been participating at all. Even when we export our Shrimps, value should be added to, we should be exporting process Shrimps and most often, we do not make it to the best of markets.
Can you give us the monetary value of this fish processing Centre you have established at the University of Lagos?
We run with a budget first of all, there is a budget of N16billion for three years to develop the entire Centre. I have a video clip, a 3D animation video that I will release to the public very soon. The 36 states of the Federation are allowed to pick up spaces at the Centre. Then it will house almost a billion Dollar investment of fish processes annually. Sea foods are going to come from Norway and processed and re-exported and sold to international markets. Also local specie of fishes will be taken and processed and exported. We are going to end up with a fish processing hub very soon that will house about $1billion annually.
Apart from the University of Lagos, what other agencies of government are supporting this project?
First of all, I have a running Memorandum of Understanding, MoU with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, we basically have an understanding with government, a very good one. Norway also has bilateral agreements in this area with the Nigerian government, Norway a trading partner with Nigeria for about a century. The way we work in Norway, is that we are always together. A lot of Norwegians are going to be with me at the University of Lagos. I have discussed this with the Embassy at the topmost level. You are going to see a lot of Norwegians bringing their equipment and technologies and sea foods here. They are going to bring to a lot of skills they teach Nigerians.
Apart from being fish processing Centre, what other objectives will you be using the Centre for?
First of all, it is now a programme in the Marine sciences department that people can apply to study and anybody can come to pick two certificate programme and scale up their skills. There will be a lot of opportunity for post graduates and researchers because that is the way it works in developed economies. Challenges that are facing the industry are brought to the Centre and the Centre is funded to proffer solutions to these challenges. It is first of its kind in the country and you will probably be seeing a lot of opportunities for government research and for the private sector. Read more at: