The nutritional value of fish, has become more recently recognized in Nigeria. Many people, are being sensitized about the nourishing elements contained in fish. This has led to a rise in entrepreneurs venturing into fish farming in Nigeria.
Fish we have come to understand, is a healthier protein as against the popular red meat that we are used to. In a bid to satisfy the teeming population in Nigeria in need of fishes, fish farming has become prominent among Nigerians. It’s on record, that Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of North African Catfish.
In a lay man’s language, fish farming is the act of choosing a particular specie of fish to rear, feed and take care of till it matures for selling. Fish breeding is the process of raising fishes for commercial purpose. It can also be called pisciculture. It is the major form of aquaculture which is the farming of aquatic organisms like fishes, aquatic plants, molluscs etc.
There are so many species of fishes in existence like the freshwater fish, pangas catfish, big head carp, sea trout, grass carp, greasy grouper, Nile tilapia, common carp, catla, seabream etc. The most common and profitable fish specie for fish farming in Nigeria are; catfish, tilapia, salmon and titus. Catfish and tilapia top the chart.
HISTORY OF FISH FARMING IN NIGERIA
According to reports, fish farming in Nigeria has been existing way back before Independence. The colonialists during world war 2 (1939-1945), became interested in fish farming. In 1942, an organization was set up in Lagos the then capital, by the colonial administration.
Experiments were carried out in lakes, ponds and on the lagoons. The experiments were successfully carried out in 1945 precisely, and the Fishery Organization was established under the Department of Commerce and Industries. Many years down the lane, fish farming in Nigeria has metamorphosed greatly. Today, it has become one of the booming farming businesses in Nigeria.
PROBLEMS OF FISH FARMING IN NIGERIA
1. Poor management and contamination of water and feed.
2. Fish predators.
3. Cannibalism among fishes.
4. Poor handling of fish.
5. Bacterial, fungal and viral infections.
6. Inadequate fingerling production: This is one of the hardest part of fish farming. If catfish babies are not produced, fish farmers will find it difficult achieving their goal of a successful business because there will be no juveniles to stock.
7. Waste production: Fish farming causes environmental pollution that might result in pathogens. They can cause diseases or poisoning of the fish.
8. Shortage of water: Adequate supply of clean water is required constantly for a successful fish farm operation. As a result of financial constraints, so many fish farmers can’t afford to equip their ponds with the appropriate source of good water.
9. Lack of technical knowledge: Fish farming is a delicate business to invest in without adequate technical knowledge. It plays a major role in the success of the business. Lack of expertise can deprive a lot of fish farmers of substantial business profit.
FACTORS AFFECTING FISH FARMING IN NIGERIA:
1. Overstocking: It leads to an outbreak and spread of diseases and mortality.
2. Poor fish tank hygiene.
3. Wrong application of chemicals and antibiotics: It makes the pond become toxic to the fishes and then lead to early mortality.
4. Overfeeding: It can cause pollution of the pond and wastage of feeds.
5. Feeding dead fishes to the others: It’s one of the fastest way to transmit diseases among the fishes.
6. Rough handling of fishes while sorting.
7. Contaminated equipment: For instance, not properly taking care of nets after use, with disinfectants and clean water.
RISKS INVOLVED IN FISH FARMING IN NIGERIA
1. The price of fish and cost of producing fish from the farm is more compared to the fishes caught in rivers by fishermen. This may beat down the amount that fish farmers should sell their matured fishes thereby affecting their profit.
2. Outbreak of diseases is another risk involved in fish farming in Nigeria is the outbreak of bacterial, viral and fungal diseases on the fish farm. It’s is a major cause of mortality in fishes.
3. High cost of feed is as a result of the inflation rate in the economy. The cost of feed has doubled which is a challenge to the business.
HOW LUCRATIVE IS FISH FARMING IN NIGERIA?
One of the most popular agribusiness currently in Nigeria is fish farming. If you have plans of starting a business, we would recommend fish farming and catfish farming precisely because of the following reasons:
1. Fish matures and develops very quickly, making it possible for you to sell your fish within a short period of time.
2. Fish sells very quickly because of its relatively cheaper price than other sources of protein, which makes it affordable for more people to purchase.
3. Fish farming in Nigeria is very lucrative with proper planning, information and management. If you invest four million naira (#4,000,000) into fish farming, within 6 months it could possibly give you five million naira (#5,000,000) as profit.
ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE OF FISH FARMING IN NIGERIA
It’s necessary to consider why fish farming in Nigeria is important. Firstly, it’s an agribusiness (business of agriculture), that anyone can invest in regardless of their educational, social or financial status. It then means that, it can be a source of livelihood for anyone that chooses, without using any of the above mentioned factors as an excuse.
Again, Nigeria has a stable market globally because she’s the world’s largest producer of North African Catfish according to records. The more farmers that venture into fish farming in Nigeria, the easier it becomes for foreign investors to be attracted to the sector.
When foreign investors are interested and lodge in capital, it will afford fish farmers in Nigeria the chance to improve in their business by building bigger ponds with more fishes and also employ advanced technology. This in return will boost the financial economy of Nigeria.
Fish can be used in the medical, cosmetics, pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries for the production of glues, paints, medications, body cream, soap and perfumes.
BUSINESS PLAN FOR FISH FARMING IN NIGERIA
Before starting up your fish farming business in Nigeria, you should consider the cost, challenges, competitors, marketing strategies, source of funds etc.
A business plan is the deed that helps you achieve this. It’s a formal written document that aims to summarize your company’s core business activities, product, financial objectives, operations. The market it serves, competitive advantage, goals, opportunities, management, time frame, projected profit etc.
It gives you an overview of your company’s future and guides you through each stage from kick off to running your business.
It outlines the target and details of achieving your plan. It also helps convince it’s readers to invest capital into your business.
TYPES OF FISH FARMING IN NIGERIA
1. Tilapia fish farming in Nigeria
Tilapia fish has about a hundred species like heterotilapine, pelmatolapime, oreochromine amongst others. They are majorly freshwater fish found in shallow waters, lakes, ponds and streams and are of a great importance to fish farming in Nigeria and Africa at large.
Tilapia is recorded as one of the most economical fish specie to rear because it reproduces fast and grows speedily. Some Nile tilapia can grow as long as 2.0 ft., and they easily adapt to a broad range of surrounding. They carry the fertilized eggs and young fish in their mouths for days after the yolk sac is absorbed.
Tilapia contains very low level of mercury because they grow very quickly and short lived. So it’s hard for them to collect mercury found in prey. A research has found out that tilapia may contain less nutritional elements than other fishes, as against population belief. It showed that it contains a far lower level of Omega- 3 fatty acid. The male tilapia fish grows about twice as fast as females. So some fish farmers cultivate only males (monosex). Its an only male breeding that depopulates the ponds.
Tilapia feeds on a wide range of natural food organisms like larval fish, decomposing organic matters, aquatic macrophytes etc. They can also be fed heavy supplementary feed. The natural value of the natural food provided in ponds is vital even for commercial farms that feed thoroughly.
2. Catfish farming in Nigeria
Catfish has five common species and are the easiest and most cultivated in Nigeria:
a. Clarias Gariepinus
b. Heterobranchus bidorsalis
c. Clarias X
d. Clarias Nigro- Digitatus
e. Heterobranchus Hybrid (Heteroclarias)
Catfish are a group of fish that are without scales and are named because of their cat like whiskers. They are found in all continents of the world except Antarctica. It’s especially located in freshwater environments of all kinds. Catfish has a tasty and soft flesh that makes them ideal for food for man.
The various catfish species have different feeding habits. Some use their taste buds to feed mainly at night. Their commonest food are crayfish, aquatic insects and other fishes, snails, shrimp, fish eggs and aquatic plants. Their highly sensitive barbells makes it easy for them to smell their prey from afar off even at night.
Their upper body part is dark in color and makes it hard for predators in the air to see them and their belly part is light colored so that predators under water do not see them.
3. Salmon fish farming in Nigeria
Salmon: They are not so common specie of fish in Nigeria. It’s carnivorous by nature but can be reared in commercial quantity.
4. Mackerel (Titus): It’s the most popular fish specie in Nigerian market but unfortunately, it’s not often cultivated by fish farmers in Nigeria. This is due to the fact that it survives only in salty water. Only time tell if Nigerian farmers will create artificial salty water so that titus can be locally reared.
HOW TO START PROFITABLE FISH FARMING IN NIGERIA
When starting a fish farming business in Nigeria, there are factors that differ from person to person. The location, markets, labor etc., makes it impossible to quote categorically how much is required to establish a fish farming business in Nigeria.
It’s advisable that any time you wish to start up your fish farming business, that you visit local fish farm owners around you and make enquiries so that you can have a current estimate.
Some of the major things to put into consideration if you want to operate a successful fish farming business in Nigeria are listed below:
1. Write a business plan: This is the beginning of a fish farming business that will stand the test of time and succeed.
2. Register your business: It’s very necessary that you register your business with Cooperate Affairs Commission. It’s a step in the right direction that will portray your business as a legal, genuine and licensed one.
3. Start up capital: Considering the fact the environment, markets, labor and so many other factors may differ, it then means that there’s no definite amount that can be quoted for starting a fish farming business in Nigeria.
4. Secure a farmland or location: You have to first decide if you are going for small scale or commercial fish farming. This is what will determine the location and size of your farm. For a small scale fish farm, you can choose to set up a tank at your backyard. It’s that easy.
But if you decide to operate a commercial fish farm business, you may have to rent, buy or construct one or more fish ponds.
5. Constant source of good water supply: Most fishes need good water to grow and survive. It’s as important to a fish as oxygen is to man. Nevertheless, there are some exceptions. Some fishes require rough water to live. Our focus here, is on the fishes that need good water to grow and develop well.
By the way, what we consider as good water for us humans (chemically treated), is poisonous to fishes. The chemicals present in the water that we consume, is harmful to fishes. Also note that the quantity of water that you need to run your fish farm is dependent on the size of your pond. A well may serve this purpose for a small scale fish farming business in Nigeria while a commercial fish farm requires a borehole, large well or a big water storage tank.
6. Establish appropriate fish ponds: The right size and system of ponds is necessary. If the pond is too small, it can become over crowded for the fishes and may lead to mortality. Fishes need space to give them room to grow and develop properly.
7. Decide on the specie of fish you want to rear. It’s important that you focus on a particular specie of fish. The most recommended species for fish farming in Nigeria are the catfish and tilapia.
8. Find wholesome juveniles or fingerlings: After the larvae stage, we get the fry which is the development stage of a fish of about less than a week old. Then it grows into a fingerling which is the stage that follows the fry. It’s from some weeks old to about three or four months of life. The yearling is the development stage of a fish following the fingerling and it lasts till about a year.
Our focus here is the juveniles which is the development stage after the fingerling. Ensure that you purchase healthy juveniles from a reputable fish hatchery farmer before you start up your fish farming business in Nigeria. You need to do this to reduce the mortality rate which is major challenge of this business niche.
9. Understand fish feeds and feeding methods: When feeding your fishes, consider both the quality and quantity of what you feed them. Do not overfeed or under feed them. Give them quality fish feed that is either supplementary, natural or complete feed. Local feed made from hatchery waste and maggots can be fed to the fishes but you must endeavor to boil hatchery waste before feeding it to the fishes.
Cost of feeding your fish: This depends on the quantity of your fishes and your environment too.
10. Market for your fish: You do not need to wait till your fish matures before you start looking for buyers. Start early enough and find your target audience.
11. Attend trainings and seminars on fish farming business: It is important that you have the right information and technical knowledge about Fish farming if must maximize your profit. Search for mentors if you must succeed in the business of fishery and follow your mentor closely. Ask as many questions as bothering you and observe how he operates his business. Learn from the professionals and you won’t regret it.
EQUIPMENT NEEDED FOR FISH FARMING IN NIGERIA
For both commercial and small scale fish farming in Nigeria, the following items area must have;
1. Fish pond could be earthen, concrete, plastic tank, synthetic leather, fiberglass tank, wooden/ tarpaulin or cage tank.
2. Good water source should be provided. It should be clean and of good quality and made available either by a water pump, borehole or a well.
3. Fish net is used for harvesting fishes for sale or weighing.
4. Fish feed of various kinds Should be provided because they will eat different kinds of feed at the various stages of their life.
5. Measuring scale for weighing fishes.
6. Labour is basically for commercial fish farming because you may not need labour for your small scale fish farming business.
7. Automatic fish feeder is an equipment that feeds the fish at a specific time. It’s eliminates manual feeding of the fishes.
8. Water quality tester as the name implies is used to determine the quality of water given to the stock.
Common systems of fish farming in Nigeria
1. Extensive aquaculture: is where fish grows naturally in streams and rivers. They can also be raised in tanks and then freed in the wild to feed and reclaimed after attaining maturity.
2. Intensive aquaculture: Fishes are artificially reared and fed with supplements or external food. They are raised in either a floating cage system, totally closed system also referred to as integrated recycling system or a flow-through system equally called semi-closed system.
The intensive system is seen as an expensive method of fishery but it’s productivity rate is higher. One of the let downs of this style of fish farming is that, the stocking density can contribute to an outbreak and spread of diseases among the fishes.
In some cases, the two systems of fish farming can be employed.
THE BEST METHOD OF FISH FARMING IN NIGERIA
There’re no hard and fast rules to this effect. The fish farmers discretion, professional guidance and other factors like the quantity of fish, farmland, capital etc., are necessary here. The system that suits the factors mentioned above is the best.
TWO COMMON REASONS WHY FISH FARMING IS PROMINENT IN NIGERIA
1. Quick maturity speed
2. It’s a popular source of protein and some other important nutrients and elements such as Omega-3
SMALL SCALE FISH FARMING IN NIGERIA
There’s no specific amount needed to start up a small scale fish farming business in Nigeria. For a truly business minded person interested in small scale fish farming in Nigeria, you do not necessarily need too much funds to start up.
You are good to go when you have available the basic equipment mentioned earlier and it’s possible to grow your business with little capital, diligence, right knowledge and business management.
COMMERCIAL FISH FARMING IN NIGERIA
Fish farming in Nigeria is a prominent and lucrative business that still remains under harnessed, even though thousands of youths have ventured into it in recent times.
It has helped to improve the condition of economy since it has become a source of livelihood for so many people.
If you want to invest in commercial fish farming in Nigeria, regardless of the specie of fish that you cultivate, with good management practice and right monitoring of the fish, it will lead to the success of the business.
Once you can afford the equipment mentioned earlier, employ the appropriate management principles, then success awaits you.
The population of people living in Nigeria should be an encouragement for anyone with the intention of going into fish farming. There’s a ready market for the steady supply of fish, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s a profitable business. So, the best time to invest in fish farming in Nigeria is now.