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Modernizing Traditional Fishing Methods In Rural Areas, Mike Okoroafor Leads The Way

The Oasis Reporters

January 18, 2017

Dateline : Ase Town, Ndokwa East Local Government Area, Delta State, Nigeria.

Occupation : Fishing and Farming

The Ase Creek.
It flows from upstream through Isselegu, Ashaka, Azagba, Ibedeni to Ase, where it empties into the River Niger at Asaba – Ase.
Along it’s course all the way from Ethiope River, the River Nun flows into it.
Photo credit : Aseland

The Ase Creek is one of the most important creeks in Ndokwa East Local Government, actually the major Creek and for centuries has been the main source of livelihood for the Ase people and those living along the coastline .
Before Governor James Ibori (1999-2007) opened the town up through an all season tarred road up to the neighboring Edherie town in Isoko South Local Government Area for the NDDC (Niger Delta Development Commission)  to take the remaining span of construction to Ase , it was largely inaccessible for most parts of the year, especially during the rainy season.

But fish was plentiful, and during the rainy season when wood was wet, to start a fire for fish drying, fishermen often burned previously dried fish, leading to large scale wastages as no access or motorable road existed to evacuate fresh fish to the cities.
This deepened poverty in the rural community.

All that soon changed with the construction of all season link roads. Now motor bikes and cars of fish buyers arrive as early as 5. 00 a.m to buy up all the fish from fishermen and which ends up in the kitchens of major hotels that are many in Oleh, Ughelli, Warri and other towns.

The consequence of this is that overfishing is occurring, and in a situation where population has risen from less than 70 million at Nigeria’s independence in 1960 to today’s 180 million, traditional fishing and farming methods certainly would lead to hunger and starvation in the land as protein deficiency becomes apparent.

According to a published research paper by
II Osugiri, GN Ben-Chendo, II Ibeawuchi :, they stress the

“Effect Of Fish Consumption On Alleviation Of Protein Deficiency In The Diet Of Households In Owerri Agricultural Zone, Imo State, South Eastern, Nigeria” and concur that

“palatability and digestibility of fish have made fish more easily acceptable in the household menu of majority” of Nigerians “than other animal protein foods” .

Animal protein itself is laden with a high level of cholesterol, which medical personnel frown upon these days, especially the problems associated with red meat.

The results proved that majority of consumers (70.8%), get their fish purchased from the market, and the remaining fraction (29.2%), get theirs caught from streams and rivers.
This scenario is applicable to Ase as a test case.

Due to prevailing rural poverty and in search of daily living, there is increasing rate of rural-urban migration by youths who would have ordinarily increased the number of fishermen in Ase as a case study , thereby increasing the quantity of caught fish from the river and ponds in the Ase land and water mass.

Any government policy aimed at the establishment of fish ponds , storage and processing facilities in Ase should have been encouraged to create an enabling environment to investors and inhabitants of the area.

Mike Okoroafor by one of his experimental fish ponds .

At last, this is missing. Therefore an agriculturalist, Mr Mike Okoroafor who has taught agricultural science in secondary schools in Kano and Delta States for decades, decided to pick up the gauntlet upon retirement after 35 years of meritorious service. Unfortunately, five years after retirement from the Delta State Teaching Service Commission, no pension has been forthcoming.
He teamed up with his wife and with traditional implements, dug up a cluster of ponds, building a small poultry above the water and turning the chicken waste to wealth, for as the droppings ferment, worms  emerge as ready food for fishes.

But if the government can provide soft backing to agricultural credit schemes, he and others inspired by him can access mechanical diggers and construct more modern ponds, buy more fingerlings and quadruple fish production in shorter cycles.
Therefore fish importation that costs the nation over a billion dollars annually would be reduced.
Larger income would attract youths into fish farming and the gainful employment would reduce restiveness, such that Nigeria can begin to export fresh water fish, much tastier than the imported variety from the sea.

A grant or low interest soft loan of between 500,000 to one million naira per fish farmer would do the trick and usher in rural prosperity, as opposed to rural poverty .

Citations :


Wikipedia On Ase Town :

Ase  is a coastal community on the shores of the Ase Creek, off River Niger in Ndokwa East Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria.
Ase Creek derives its name from Ase town, an idyllic countryside with a spectacular and breathtaking natural beach, evergreen rain-forest vegetation rich in flora and fauna which overhangs the Ase Creek.
Ase is a serene natural tourist resort still waiting to be explored. It shares common boundaries with Ibedeni, Onyah,  Aviara,  Uzere, Patani (all in Delta State) and Trofani (in Bayelsa State).

The town is made up of descendants from Ndokwa speakers who have intermarried with the Isokos and Ijaws over the years. The Ase dialect of the Ukwuani language is spoken by the Ase people.

The Ase people are of the same ancestral origin with Ase-Azaga, Ase-Imoniteh, and Ase-Omuku. Among the other Ases.
Ase town is generally referred to as Ase Ebeneze (founder of Ase) or Ase Ukwu

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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