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PROJECT TOPIC: ASSESSING ECONOMIC AND WELFARE VALUES OF FISH IN THE LOWER NIGER RIVER

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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1     BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY Freshwater capture fisheries in the Lower River Niger Basin provide 47 to 80% of the animal protein consumed, as well as livelihood opportunities on a large scale for the neighboring settlements. However in absence of a solid estimate of the total economic value of these fisheries, their importance remains very poorly recognized by institutions and in development plans, which hampers rural development (Okechi, 2004). Furthermore the respective role of fish and agricultural resources in livelihoods and in rural welfare has never been quantified. Accordingly, the overall aim of this study is to quantify the multiple values of fish resources, interpret findings, analyze implications, and hopes that the high level results and implications will be useful to national decision-makers, development agencies and local actors, for sustainable and improved rural livelihoods. This information should provide essential guidance for future agriculture and rural development programs aimed at improving welfare in the Lower Niger Basin. Economic and welfare consideration in the selection of an appropriate fish harvesting system includes observations of its potential for its efficiency, fisher’s access to operating capital and economic returns, (Hebicha et al., 1994). Economically, fishing on the lower Niger River has the potential for growth into large industry that could lead to wider business network in terms of supply services, fishing and marketing which could provide job opportunities to the teaming populace (Okechi, 2004). It could also provide investment opportunities in feed mills, equipment manufacturing, processing, packaging and the provision of raw ingredients for research and education (Okechi, 2004). Fish industry also provides alternative source of high valued animal protein needs of the populace, contributing over 60 % of the total protein intake of the rural population (Adekoya and Miller, 2004). Fish has a nutrient profile superior to all terrestrial meats and equally has a high digestible energy that can meet the nutritional requirements of the rural populace (Amiengheme, 2005). In Nigeria, commercial fishing on the lower Niger River started over 40 years ago (Ekwegh, 2005). Meeting the fish protein demand of the current population of over one hundred (100) million people in Nigeria may require over 1.5 million metric tons of fish. Even with aquaculture, production is currently only500,000 metric tons (Raufu et al., 2009). The consumption of nearly 19.38/output/day is low and far below FAOs recommendation of 65gms/output/day (Adewuyi et al., 2010). Therefore the need to invest into fish production to increase and meet the protein needs of its populace whose demand for fish has geometrically increased Kudi et al. (2008) is import.


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