The Chief Job Creation Officer of the State, Prof. Eric Eboh, gave the charge at a Stakeholder Roundtable for realising the job creation targets for the fishery value chain held in his office.

The roundtable put together by the Office of the Chief Job Creation Officer in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry was attended by representatives of fish farmers, fish processors, fish industrialists, private sector investors interested in fish value chain and representatives of development partners.

Prof. Eboh enjoined fish farmers in the State to work hard to take fish production from the level of subsistence to the level of producing for the market.

He disclosed that the State Government is about to establish 82 of its trainees under the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP) in various pond sites across the  State, adding that they will be provided with fingerlings, fish feeds and other technical support.

On his part, the Hon. Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr. Austin Chikezie, in his paper entitled “The State of Fish Production in Delta State” said the State Government is committed to implementing its Fishery Policy with the aim of promoting and developing fisheries activities in the state so as to attain self-sufficiency in fish production.

While describing the strategies for the implementation of 2016 agricultural development and value chain plan as purposeful, he said it is aimed at job creation, wealth creation, production of raw materials, availability of food and increased revenue for Government.

Chikezie disclosed the State has 20,033 fish farmers and 25,000 artisanal fishermen across the State who produce an estimated 23,000 metric tons of fish.

He called for improved pond management, increased fish production in catfish farming and establishment of network/linkages that foster healthy competitive relationships between the various value chain providers.

Also, the Hon Commissioner for Urban Renewal, Mr Karo Illolo, decried the state of the moribund Aviara fish farm for almost three decades; he however added that there is hope as the State Government is making plans to resuscitate it as fish production is part of its measures to create wealth and job.

The Hon Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs Mary Iyasere, tasked fish farmers to adequately feed their fish in order to realise their goals of a bountiful harvest and to add value to their produce by freezing and drying methods so as to sustain themselves in the business

 She reiterated the State Government’s commitment to public/private partnership in the production of fish feed, pointing out that the State Government is working hard to assist in fish processing.

She added that equipment for four fish feed mills is available and that the feed production building located at Ubeji is at completion stage.

She said Chinese experts are expected to arrive in the State in March to install the equipment, stressing that Government will float the feed mill while the private sector mans the mills for efficiency.

Speaking separately, the representatives of fish farmers and fish processors appealed to the State Government to assist them in the area of fish preservation and processing to meet international standard.

The lecture, “Growing the Aquaculture Sector, using the Market Development Approach” was delivered by one of the team of Consultants, Mr Misan Edema-Silo from Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta ( PIND Foundation, Chevron).