Smoked catfish from Nigeria ranks among expensive delicacies in the United States of America, selling for as much as N11, 193 per two pounds, or an equivalent of 0.91 kilogram, in one of the supermarkets, our correspondent has gathered.
National Wire also found out during the week that a kilogram of yam, a commodity which the Nigerian government has been making several efforts to successfully export to Europe and North America, also goes for about N1, 750 in the same outlet.
The smoked fish wrapped in cellophane and clearly marked “From Nigeria” bore a price tag of $15.99/lb (one pound), just as the yam tubers, also marked as “African Yam,” were selling at $2.49/lbs at the Food World Supermarket located at Lakewood Avenue in the Durham city of North Carolina.
A conservative exchange rate of N350 to one dollar brings the price of two pounds of the catfish to N11, 193 and that of the yam tubers weighing about two kilograms each to around N3, 500.
A snack commonly found in Nigeria also sold in the supermarket at a price that will be impressive to an exporter is the plantain chips. A pack of five ounces (0.14 kilogram) is sold for N695.50 (or $1.99), seven of which will be 0.99 kilogram and sold for N4, 875.5, and the product is mainly sourced from Ecuador.
The minimum wage in North Carolina, like many other states in the U.S, is $7.25 an hour at 40 hours weekly for full time, which amounts to $1,160 monthly. A worker on this income belt could have spent 11.3 per cent ($31.98) of his weekly wage on a kilo of smoked fish. The same quantity of fish costs around N2, 500 in the Lagos Mile 12 Market.
Roughly 60 per cent of those consuming fish in Nigeria eat catfish, A US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) certified smoked fish expert and owner of TEE ESS Farms, Tunde Sani, said in a previous interview. He also emphasized that individuals above the age of 40 should eat fish for a good health.
As of February this year, however, smoked fish from Nigeria had been under ban by the USFDA for a year, according to the Catfish and Allied Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFFAN) National President, Oloye Olibile Rotimi.
He said the hammer came down on CAFFAN due to the failure of the Nigerian officials at the Federal Department of Fisheries to respond to a letter from the U.S. Department of Agric through the Consulate in Lagos, requesting for a periodic documentation about the sources, breeding and processing of fishery product from Nigeria.
Other exporters from Ghana have since flocked into Nigeria to buy fish, process in their country and brand same for exportation to US and Europe as Nigerian Catfish, said Rotimi.
It is also recalled that the attempt by the Nigerian government to export yam was unsuccessful as most of the consignment went bad before reaching the destination.