Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Tuesday, lamented the high cost of diesel, saying it is taking a toll on his business.
Obasanjo, who is a fish farmer, said he has been sweating because of the high cost of diesel.
He spoke on Tuesday in Abeokuta, Ogun State, during Southwest fish farmers’ congress held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL).
Obasanjo noted that the rise in cost of diesel as well as constant increase in prices of fish feeds will eventually run Nigerian fish farmers out of business except they come together to agree on sustainable prices that could be adopted to keep them in business.
According to him, farmers can longer be producing at the mercy of the buyers who would come around nfor whatever amount that suited them without taking into account the effect of the current economic effect on the production of such fishes.
He explained that with current price of diesel at 800 per litre, production of a kilogram of fish is N1,400, adding that, in order to make very marginal profit, the farmers can’t sell less than N1,500 as anything short of that amounts “outright loss.”
Obasanjo said “The price of diesel has gone high because the management of this country is not what it should to be. And it is as simple as that. Then, what will happen is that, particularly those of us who have to use a bit of diesel in producing fish, we will completely go bankrupt, and when that happens, Nigerians will still have to eat fish.
“Fish production will be out of reach and then, people will be producing fish outside Nigeria and be dumping it here. And you will go jobless, poor and indigent. So, what do we have to do? To come together…we want to sustain fish production and we must be able to take care of those who are going to eat and those of us who are producing.”
Turning to the farmers, he asked “How many of you are using diesel in your production? Because I use diesel and I’m already sweating. I’m already sweating.”
The President of South-West Fish Farmers Price Sustainability Group, Amo Tunbosun Amo, disclosed that the country currently consumes around 3.6 million metric tonnes of fish annually but only produce 1.12 million tonnes leaving a balance of 2.6 millions tonnes to be imported.
Amo explained that one of the major challenges confronting the fish farmers is the continued increase in the prices of inputs in the production of fish and majorly the feed and the refusal of the buyers to buy the fish at commensurate price.
He said, “This is the essence of this gathering, we find out that we have to take our destiny in our hands, we can’t continue to produce and be at the mercy of the buyers, we felt we need to come around and do something for ourselves. We are starting with Southwest and in a matter of time it will be all over the country.”
The convener of the congress, Steve Okeleji said the fish farmers have decided to come together to rescue the industry.
Okeleji said “We have to come together to see how we can rescue our industry. It’s now very obvious to us that if we don’t do something fast, the aquaculture industry in Nigeria will be submerged.
“If everything were to be right with our economy, this congress wouldn’t have been necessary.
“So, the farmers must be heard. We also virtually key player in the industry. In fact, we play important role across the value chain of the industry. But the major challenge we have over time is that we are not able to speak with one voice.”