Lagos State Commercial Agriculture Development Project – fish farmers export smoked fish to US market
Branded smoked fish produced by fish farmers being supported by the Lagos State Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP) are now gaining access into the US market. This started a few weeks ago after the Post Harvest Commercial Fish Processors in Lagos, under the aegis of the Cooperative and Agro-allied Multi-purpose Society (CAMS) received the certification of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Tunde Sanni, owner of Tee Ess Farms, one of the processors now producing smoked fish for the US market, said the United States FDA, working in partnership with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, received samples of fish from the processing plant of the farmers for laboratory testing and had certified the product fit for export to the US with FDA Food Facility Registration N0: 1248378216.
“Exporters of Nigerian foods now buy smoked fish from Tee Ess Farm and export to the United States and there has been no problems doing that. My farm also smokes fish for other fish farmers according to the international standards we have met and they can package the fish with their own label,” according to Sanni.
There are also other members of the cooperative who have the wherewithal, and now produce and smoke fish to meet international standards, but according to Sanni, farmers and processors have barely met the local demand for smoked fish of international standards as these branded and packaged fish sell like hot cakes in high-brow shops within the country.
Sanni also explained that as a result of the CADP intervention and working with experts and consultants from the US, the processors have come out with packages for filleted and whole-smoked fish of international standards with relevant products and bar codes that enhance its competitiveness and protection while establishing its corporate identity in the marketplace.
Sanni further said before the CADP intervention, CAMS, the association of processors, produced 150kg of locally smoked fish per week with excess load of charcoal and the negative health implications and barrier to the international market. “This set of farmers was assisted with an improved fish processing/smoking kiln that increased production level to 300kg per batch by CADP. This has helped to reduce the smoke level to international acceptable standards. The cooperative has gone ahead to purchase an additional smoking kiln as their production has increased to 800kg per batch,’’ Sanni said.
The CADP’s objective is to strengthen agricultural production systems and facilitate access to market for targeted value chains among small and medium scale commercial farmers through financial, infrastructure (road and energy) and market linkage support. It is currently operating in five states in Nigeria – Cross River, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano, and Lagos, with funding by the World Bank and counterpart funding provided by the state governments and the Federal Government as the umpire.
In Lagos State, the value chains supported are rice, poultry and aquaculture.
“The work of these processors is bound to enhance the fulfilment of CADP objective of increasing production capacity and entering the international market in a short while,” said Sanni.
Kehinde Ogunyinka, project coordinator of the Lagos State CADP, lauded the achievement, describing it as a bold step in the right direction. Ogunyinka said the US FDA approval and certification of the smoked fish from Nigeria was a testimony to the healthful campaign and processing that the Lagos CADP had embarked upon while partnering farmers.
He however stated that CADP will continue to work in partnership with investors in the three value chains of aquaculture, rice and poultry to enhance productivity and guarantee sustainable food security for Nigerians and the entire world.
Though there is huge demand for Nigerian foods, including smoked fish in recent years in European countries and the US due to growing Diaspora population, these countries have unflinching rules on imported foods due to health concerns and conformity to internationally acceptable standards of food packaging. As a result, almost half of fish exported from Africa get returned or destroyed due to these causes: infestation by moulds or insects, and inappropriate packaging and labelling. So, the access by the Lagos fish farmers to the US market is not a small achievement.
Source – Business Day