The Catfish Farmers Association of Nigeria, Edo chapter, has charged the federal government to urgently address the problem of insecurity and high cost of diesel to boost catfish production.
The state chairman of the association, Mr Benjamin Okpere, made the call during an interactive session with newsmen in Benin recently.
Okpere said catfish production was under serious threat due to the high cost of diesel, insecurity and high interest and exchange rates.
“Catfish business was thriving until last year when economic realities became terrible for many farmers.
“As we speak, because of the high cost of production, profit margin has reduced, while a lot of farmers have stopped production.
“Also, those in business have reduced their stockings because prices of inputs have doubled in the last one year,” he said.
Okpere said factories that operated on diesel-powered generators had resorted to petrol with drastic cut in their operating hours.
He said the deployment had resulted in a significant drop in production and further contended that farmers were also grappling with the scarcity and high cost of feed.
He blamed the ugly situation on the high exchange rate and drop in maize production due largely to insecurity in the North.
According to him, federal government needs to tackle these challenges because they are the root cause of the problem facing farmers.
Okpere, however, commended Governor Godwin Obaseki for the different interventions in the sector.
“There is a cluster project introduced by the state government, which also gave inputs to farmers, ranging from fingerlings to feeds, to take them to full cycle.
“I am also aware of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Fund by the Bank of Industry provided to farmers at a six per cent interest rate. That is a huge incentive.
“The Edo State Government has tried for farmers, but we still operate within a macro environment controlled by the federal government,” Okpere said