One major challenge confronting the fish farmers of Ebute Afuye is access to fish feed for their Cat Fish stock. In the whole of Epe and its immediate environs, their is no feed mill and the fish farmers from these area have to travel down to Ijebu Ode (Ogun State) and even sometimes to Ibadan (Oyo State) to purchase fish feeds. Beyond this, is the challenge of accessing micro credit to purchase the needed feeds and then pay back upon harvesting. This challenge has led to gross reduction in productivity and income. It also threatens livelihoods as many of the fish farmers have abandoned this occupation to ether return to the open waters or remain jobless and barely scratching up a survival. Women, of course are worst hit.
It is in response to this challenge and the community’s call for help that HEDA Resource Centre with support from the People and Government of Japan under their Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP,) is constructing and equipping a Semi-Automated Fish Feed Mill for the Ire Akari Fish Farmers’ Association of Ebute Afuye. HEDA Resource Centre is a leading Non-Governmental Organisation working with others to fight poverty, hunger, environmental degradation and human rights violation as well as the social inequality and bad governance that precipitate them. This project is a consolidation on other helpful interventions by HEDA and other supporting partners and the Lagos State Government through its Commercial Agriculture Programme. The fish farmers have benefited from training interventions in the areas of farm management, flood prevention, climate change adaptation and mitigation, policy advocacy and alternative livelihood skills among others.
Ebute Afuye, a serene and thriving community in Epe Local Government Area (LGA) on is a like a pearl on the fringe of the Lagos Lagoon. For centuries, generations of fisher men and fish selling women have made a decent living and a good name not only for themselves, but also for their community, for Epe Town, for Lagos State and Nigeria at large. From this hidden Epe enclave, delicious, healthy, highly nutritious and large variety of assorted highly nutritious fish, prawns, lobsters and other goodies from the ‘Osa’ the Lagos Lagoon and ‘Okun’ the Atlantic Ocean. Indeed it must be said that the Waters have brought wealth and prosperity to the people of Ebute Afuye like many other coastal communities in Nigeria across Africa.
However, in the last 30 years, the catches have been dwindling. This is due to a plethora of reasons and challenges but the bottom line is that human demand for nature’s resources is increasing exponentially and far above the rate at which nature is replenishing. The evidence of this fact is ominous on the lands and in the waters. Alas, humanity must learn to live sustainable lo 1996 therefore, the United nations Development Programme (UNDP) introduced the artesenal fishers of Ebute Afuye to AQUACULTURE. The community benefited from high quality training and support. Again, the Waters, albeit from Earthen Ponds spanned wealth and with it prosperity. Things though are changing very fast and the challenges confronting the fish farmers of Ebute Afuye are numerous and with real implications for their livelihoods and income.
At the soil turning event on Saturday 22nd February 2014, the Executive Secretary of HEDA Resource Centre, Mr. Sulaimon Arigbabu congratulated the farmers for attracting the support from the Embassy of Japan and urged them to take charge and ownership of the project to the benefit of all fish farmers. who are the primary beneficiaries, as well as every members of the community. He expressed the hope that the feed mill when fully operational will be able to attract grants and investments that will enable it provide input based micro credit services to the fish farmers and still operate at a profit. The profit from the feed mill will help to fund development projects in the community by improving the education and health infrastructure for instance.
The community elders, men and women, including clerics took turn to pray for the success of the project and to commit their support for the project. The Ire Akari Fish Farmers Association members also expressed their profound gratitutde to the people and government of Japan and HEDA Resource Centre with the promise to work hands-in-gloves with all stakeholders to ensure the success of the project.