What is in this article?:
- MSU shares catfish expertise in Nigeria
- 80 percent of food imported
DR. SKIP JACK, Mississippi State University veterinarian, spent three weeks in Nigeria teaching about fish health. Here, he holds a Clarius catfish with some students in Lagos, Nigeria. (Submitted Photo)
80 percent of food imported
Nigeria is a nation of 168 million people located in West Africa. It is a federal constitutional republic with oil reserves that generate tremendous revenue. It is part of the Commonwealth of Nations, formerly the British Commonwealth, and English is widely spoken.
“Nigeria has half the population of the United States in an area the size of the Southeastern Conference,” Jack said. “Eighty percent of the food in Nigeria is imported.”
Catfish production is not a major industry in Nigeria, but no aspect of food production is big business in the country. None of their catfish is exported.
“Most of their catfish are either sold fresh in local markets or made into a smoked catfish product that is fabulous,” he said.
Nigerian catfish operations are small, with a large pond there covering 2 acres. In the United States, ponds typically cover 8 to 10 acres. American catfish ponds have significant government controls to protect food safety, a topic Jack discussed when he guest-lectured.
“I talked about food safety concerns and antibiotic resistance. They don’t have restrictions on the use of antimicrobials in food animals that we have,” Jack said. “In the United States, we can use only three antibiotics in food fish. There, they can use anything they can get over the counter.”
Oche said Jack taught veterinarians and industry professionals simple ways to manage fish health that don’t require antibiotics as the first course of action.
“The participants knew some methodologies to use but needed some form of authentication,” Oche said. “A workshop of this nature is meant to review the expected global standards and fill in gaps where standards are lacking, correct what is being done wrongly and strengthen right actions.”
Jack’s trip to Nigeria was coordinated by the U.S. Agency for International Development and Winrock International, an organization headquartered in Little Rock that links expertise at American universities with needs abroad. MSU’s veterinary college was asked to address this training need. Jack was chosen for the task. His wife Lynda accompanied him.
It was Jack’s first trip to Nigeria, but not the first time veterinary expertise has taken CVM faculty out of the country. Jack has worked in Mongolia with Christian Veterinary Missions. Others have worked in Vietnam and South Korea, and plans are underway for a research trip to China.
“It is important for those teaching veterinary medicine to students to understand and research the food safety issues associated with the changes that come with international trade, increased travel and other globalization issues,” said CVM’s Dean Dr. Kent Hoblet. “As such, we fully support our faculty taking advantage of these research abroad opportunities.”