Sokoto fish farmers fight for survival

Tilapia fish

…state govt admits neglect


Fish farmers in Sokoto State are seeking enhanced environment, appropriate tools and equipment for sustainable fisheries in the state.

The Angling Union of lamented (Yan’ Fatsa) in Sokoto spoke on the challenges and the need to address them.

The union’s spokesman, Alhaji Kabiru Muhammed, said “the most nagging challenges are; lack of fishing boats, inadequate fishing rods, and the occurrence of aquatic plants.”

Local fishermen re-echoed the same concern in some fishing communities such as Kware and Kwalkwalawa areas of the state. “We need fishing implements, boats and jackets to enhance our business,” one of the local fishermen said.

Thier spokesman recalled that the Angling Union got 20 fishing rods during the past administration of Governor Aliyu Wamakko but that it was insufficient for its 85 members.

He disclosed recent moves to further push for their needs: “During a meeting with the ministry officials, they promised to provide us with fishing boats. We also tabled the issue of securing enough fishing rods for our members, most of whom are retired civil servants and have passion for angling type of fishing.”

Muhammed said the provision of the tools and equipment would boost their activities and enhance the contributions of fisheries to food security in the state.

“The importance of fish cannot be overemphasised. It is a key source of protein. Fish offers livelihoods for our communities,” he pointed out.

Mustapha Muhammad, 40, grew up fishing at Kainuwa waters in Kware Local Government Area of Sokoto. He spoke on the challenges at the Kware lake where the state government had earlier initiated a programme to boost fisheries.

Muhammad said: “There is a need to clear all the ‘shallah’, the tall grass in the water and ‘damba’, which are posing a great challenge to our fishing activities.”

He acknowledged that over six months ago, the state government carried out an initiative to boost the Kware lake, but identified factors that militated against the expected outcome.

“It is true that the Ministry for Animal Health and Fisheries experimented with a fish species in Kainuwa water. Some officials came from Kware Local Government with fish variety which they put in the water. They discussed with the Sarkin Ruwa, (the Head of fishermen) of the area and they banned fishing for six months which we complied with,” Muhammad said.

He said after the expiration of the time, they resumed their normal fishing activities in the water, hoping that they would make plentiful harvest.

“But, we noticed that the number of ‘biga,’ a kind of long tunnel that cuts across our water, made the fish difficult to catch; they hid in the tunnel. Also, some nuisance aquatic plants made access to the fish difficult,” he said.

For his part, chairman of the fish sellers, Alhaji Badamasi Bello Kofar Kware, urged the state government to give adequate support to fish farming.

“Since the government is giving some support to agricultural commodities, it should include fish farming.

“Fish farming has assisted us as a business in the state,” he said.

However, the state Commissioner for Animal Health and Fisheries, Professor Abdulkadir Junaidu, has revealed the state governments’ efforts and plans to enhance fisheries. He described fisheries as one thing that has been neglected for a long time.

He said the ministry has identified some areas such as in Wamakko, Binji and Kware, among others where it was working to revitalize fishing activities.

“I went to Wamakko last month where we have a huge pond. The place is in terrible condition. I have informed the governor about it that it needs some intervention to make it okay for people to use,” he said.

“There is also a programme in Wamakko village in which the Federal Government is partnering with us. When I got there it was like an abandoned thing, I called the government representative, and we have commenced discussions on how to rehabilitate the place,” Professor Junaidu said.

He added that the Wamakko village scheme has about 60 cells. “They are like artificial ponds with borehole which will serve as a means of empowerment for the youths and women. Three to four persons can manage each of the ponds, multiplied by 60,” he said.

The commissioner also revealed the state government’s intention to partner with the association and other stakeholders to manage it as a public-private partnership for better results.

“We also have another one in Binji where the governor has approved some stocks for the farmers alongside nets to help them in improving on their fishing business. The more you increase the catch, the more they will stay in business,” he stated.

On the Kware lake, he explained: “When I came in, we noted the fish depletion at the Kware lake. It only relied on natural fish from the water and wasn’t restocked.”

“We invited the fisheries association for discussion, and in collaboration with the Federal Government, we launched a scheme in Kware lake, which is one of the biggest lakes we have. We have now restocked the lake – about six months ago now.”

The commissioner reiterated the commitment of the government towards boosting fisheries in the state.


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