STAKEHOLDERS in the aquaculture value chain have expressed sadness over the effect of the coronavirus pandemic which they said has negatively affected their businesses enormously.
They said that COVID-19 has affected the entire value chain in the industry from pre-production, production, processing, storage, transportation, and marketing, leading to huge financial losses.
The stakeholders who spoke during a webinar organised by the West Africa Region of the World Aquaculture Society, African Chapter, with 68 participants from different countries in attendance.
Director-General, WorldFish, Gareth Johnstone, spoke on how to address COVID-19 impacts on fish and aquatic food systems.
He said that a looming food crisis with serious socio-economic consequences will become inevitable unless sound and decisive measures are taken fast to keep global food supply chains going and to protect poor and vulnerable communities.
He said it was estimated that the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic could plunge more than half a billion people into poverty, with communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East expected to suffer the most.
The first Federal Director, Fisheries Quarantine in Nigeria, Foluke Areola, in her paper titled: ‘Challenges and Prospects of COVID-19 to Aquaculture Industry: A Contemporary Issue’, revealed that economic activities have slowed down generally, as many farmers have large volumes of unsold stocks, due to market restrictions, purchasing power and decrease in income generation.
She lamented that aquaculture farmers have been selling at a loss, as they are forced to sell at a very low price because the expected weight was not achieved, due to inability to feed the fish well.
“The lockdown has led to insufficient cash to buy feed; therefore farmers are forced to sell their fish without the use of the finishing feed and at a very low price because the expected weight was not achieved. They are therefore selling at a loss. Some farmers are improvising to attain the expected weight because they could not purchase the finishing feed due to lack of cash flow.
“In general, the Best Available Practices (BAPs) in growing structure (ponds, tanks, raceways, etc) has best-described aquaculture as water management, which includes, periodic monitoring of water parameters at least twice daily in the mornings and evenings. Other practices are maintaining constant regular feeding to ensure the optimal growth curve is attained.
“Feeding beyond the planned growing period as is being experienced in most farms, now means extra costs that may not be absorbed by the market because of present low purchasing capacity. Stockpiling and panic buying reduced the demand for more fish in the face of lack of adequate storing facilities and constant energy,” she added.
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