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July 20, 2024

‘Nigeria Under Threat of Food Insecurity, Requires Urgent Attention to Address Crisis’ -UNILAG Don

A Professor of Fisheries Biology, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Prof. Aderonke Lawal-Are, said the nation is under threat of food insecurity and requires the urgent attention of the government and stakeholders to address the crisis.

Prof. Aderonke made this call while delivering the 17th Inaugural Lecture for the 2023/2024 year, titled: “The Carcinologist Expedition: Decoding the Mysteries of Coastal Explorers”, where she revealed that adults, who have been warned against eating red meat as a source of protein can, consume Crabs on a daily basis.

She added: “Government should help boost food production in the country by increasing the funding of agriculture. Government is only focusing on plants and livestock. We are under threat of food security.”

She then urged the government to encourage the production of fisheries, adding, “in Niger Delta, people don’t go fishing again because of the militants. We have fewer trawlers going into Niger Delta waters.”

The University Don said the economy and potentials of the nation’s various oceans remains untapped, noting, “few students are applying for admission in Fisheries because they don’t know about the potentials.”          

She described Crabs as the cheapest of the shellfish resources and a major source of nutritious food and should be eaten by all every other day to increase “our protein level and especially for adults who are not permitted to eat so much red meat.”

In consultation with researchers, fisherfolks, stakeholders and artisan involved in crabs captures should make policies on the licensing of boats, mesh size regulations and trap setting Crabs on the Lagos lagoon complex as the Crabs can be subjected to the same management and conservation practices.

The professor of fisheries also tasked the government to ensure the enforcement of regulations concerning water quality measures, underwater grass restoration, improvement of awareness and capacities of local communities, and developing a co-management model to protect and harvest local natural resources sustainably.

She called on the Government to adopt a closed season in the dry months of December to April when fecund females are migrating back to areas of high salinity and releasing larvae to allow them to grow and develop adequately.

“Protecting these crabs, particularly females and their eggs, remains an important part of crab conservation efforts,” she stated.

She further advocated for huge funding from government, institutions, and funding agencies for the culture of Lagoon Crabs in Nigeria, which is capital intensive primarily because for a complete cycle of Crab production, there must be simulation of two environments (sea and estuary).

The professor of fisheries and Biology explained that the purchase of the necessary equipment for these purposes is huge and the manpower.

“There should be a paradigm shift in policy governing the activities of the Centre for General Studies through increased funding, review of the curricular provisions of the courses in line with current National Universities Commission proposal and the deployment of online examinations in alignment with the future ready agenda of the VC,” she proposed. 

In his remarks, the acting VC, Prof. Chukwu said Professor Aderonke has over 100 publications in local and international journals, three grants, produced 175 graduates, 75 MSc and nine PhDs.

Chukwu told the gathering that Aderonke joined the services of UNILAG in 1998 and became a professor in 2015 and has held various positions in the institution.

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