Harnessing the Benefits of Fish Farming Pt. 1

Harnessing the Benefits of Fish Farming Pt. 1

Fish farming is one of the most lucrative business ventures in Nigeria today.  On today’s edition of SpiceyGist Entrepreneurship Spotlight, an Agricultural Economist, Dr. Olaleye Daniel Ayo explicitly explains how to harness the benefits of fish farming for economic prosperity.

Fish and fish products are known as very important diets because of their significance in improving human health and their high nutritive content. 

The major species of cultured fish in Nigeria include – tilapia, catfish and carp. However, the African catfish species (Clarias gariepinus or lazera) are the most resistant and widely accepted and highly valued fish that are cultivated in Nigeria. 

Clarias gariepinus popularly known as catfish has no scale, has omnivorous feeding habit, and preys heavily on other species and even on its own fry and fingerlings. 

Catfish is the major fish cultured in Nigeria, it can resist harsh environmental conditions, it is eaten by most tribes, commands a good price, tasty and can be kept alive for days during marketing. 

Current Estimate of over 253,898 metric tonnes per year of production output of Clarias gariepinus in the country is been recorded

Fish farming provides opportunities to improve wellbeing and encourage economic growth in Nigeria.

Demand and supply gaps in fisheries have persistently widened such that a shortfall of about 2 million metric tonnes of fish has been recorded, implying about 30% self-sufficiency ratio in fishery subsector. 

Despite the high growth potential of fishery subsector, it has not been able to bridge the demand/ supply gap for fish and fishery products in Nigeria. 

Therefore, fish production is a very viable investment venture for intending entrepreneurs and unemployed youth. It is rapidly expanding and it will continue to be profitable if the planning and management are well taken care of.

Prospects of Fish Farming

The fish industry remains the most unexplored investment sector in Nigeria compared with the importation of frozen fish in the domestic market. A sure means of substantially bridging the demand-supply gap is by embarking on widespread small- scale fish production.

The potential of fish farming in Kwara State is great as it offers an economical source of protein-rich food. 

It also has the ability to create jobs for lots of unemployed populace as they can key into any aspect along the fish value chain either as input supplier, producer (fish farmer), fish processor or marketer. 

Any of the above-mentioned aspects of the value-chain is profitable depending on the interest of the prospective actor and the comparative advantage provided by the location or environment where such a person reside.

Methods of Cultured Catfish Production

Studies conducted have shown that there are three common methods of raising catfish and these are: earthen pond, concrete pond and the use of plastic tanks.

Harnessing the Benefits of Fish Farming Pt. 1
Concrete Fish Pond
Harnessing the Benef its of Fish Farming Pt. 1
Earthen Fish Pond
Plastic Fish Tanks
Plastic Fish Tank

Each of the above methods has its advantages and disadvantages as well as different cost implications. 

In Kwara state, for instance, the majority of catfish farmers raise their product by using either concrete or plastic tank method. The reason for this may be because the earthen pond method can only be done in a riverine area which is not so much available, especially, in major towns of the state. 

Therefore, if the desire to close the gap between demand and supply of catfish will become a reality, there is a need to use all suitable mediums of raising catfish other than their natural habitat.

Steps to Start a Fish Farm in Nigeria

Every farmer or investor wants success in business enterprise. Therefore, to succeed in fish farming there are practical steps to be taken, some of such steps include:

Step 1- Fish pond site selection and construction. 

In selecting a suitable site and constructing a durable pond, the following are to be put into consideration

a. Water source and supply

b. Nature of the soil/ Land availability. The soil should be tested for its ability to retain water.

c. Topography (Landscape)

d. Vegetation of the site. This will determine the cost of clearing for construction of the pond.

Other factors to be considered in site selection also include; accessibility, security, availability of labour, availability of inputs and market for the products

Step 2: Source of Fry/fingerings. 

It must be from a reputable source of good quality.

Step 3: Transporting fish for culture. 

The way and manner live fish are transported is a very important aspect of fish culture. In most cases, fries and fingerlings must be transported from hatchery to pond for stocking. A fish farmer must be familiar with the principle, techniques and practices of fish transportation to minimise the mortality rate resulting from transportation.

Step 4: Feed formulation and feeding practices.

Fish food consists of natural food and artificial (supplementary) feeds. Natural food organisms in the water provide essential nutrients. When natural foods are not available in sufficient quantities to provide adequate nutrition for fish growth, feeds that are manufactured in the form of mash or pellet in various sizes depending on the category of fish may be fed at regular interval.

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Step 5: Prevention and control of diseases of fish in ponds.

It is possible at one point or the other that fish farmers have to deal with disease conditions of fish in the pond. It is, therefore, necessary to have some knowledge about the prevention and control of such diseases. 

Most infection, however, can be avoided through good management practices. It is generally known that occurrences of fish disease in fish ponds are quite few compared with occurrences in the natural environment. 

Some of the factors promoting ill health and diseases in fish farming include; poor water quality, overstocking, irregular feeding, nutrients deficient feeds, over-fertilization of the pond, the incidence of wild fish, unhygienic pond environment amongst others. 

Some of the symptoms of disused fish include; slow/sluggish movement in the water, loss of appetite, red/ brown spots on fish skin etc

Step 6: Harvesting and marketing.

Most fish under semi-intensive and extensive system can be harvested within 9-12 months. A farmer can then harvest periodically as planned under intensive culture. A growth cycle of 6 months for fish to reach 1-1.5kg is possible.

Step 6: Marketing has a vital role to play in fish production venture. The following marketing strategies are necessary to achieve a profitable fish farming enterprise.

a. Identify the demands of market places

b. Match production to market needs

c. Match production and consumers need to available resources etc.

Cost and Return Analysis of Catfish Production in Kwara State

Some basic cost in catfish farming includes: cost of fingerling, feed, labour, medication, land, water supply, plastic tank/ pond construction etc. 

From the findings of a study carried out on catfish production in Kwara State, it was discovered that the cost of feed accounted for the highest

variable cost across the three predominant methods of production in the state.  

Based on Net Farm Income, plastic tank method of catfish production recorded the highest net farm income and the three production methods recorded the gross ratio of less than 1 which is desirable for any farm business.

It was also discovered from the study conducted that return on investment R O I for an earthen pond, concrete and plastic tank were #1.90, #1.56, #1.94 respectively. This simply implies that the three methods of catfish production in Kwara are profitable though at different levels.

Dr. Olaleye Daniel Ayo

Agricultural Economist

Kwara State


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