Business, investment opportunities in fish farming value chains in Nigeria, by Chinedu Agbaji

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Today’s Agribusiness

One of the most popular agribusinesses in Nigeria is fish farming, because of the jobs it has created through the value chains. Nowadays, the modern farm practice has made it possible to grow fish on the farms. Gone are the days when the only means of getting fish is through the local rivers, etc, through trial and error.

Fish farming is an act of rearing fish for commercial purposes. This involves building the earthen, tarpaulin, or concrete pond, fertilizing the pond, stocking the fingerlings in good water, and feeding the mackerel, tilapia, or catfish to market size. While there are thousands of fish species all around the globe, only very few of them are viable for commercial fish farming.

Nigeria is one of the largest aquaculture producers in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the fish farming business employed over 13,000 people in 2012 in Nigeria. Also, fish farming just like other agricultural areas is encouraged by the government and can receive financial support from the government and other institutions.

Fish farming thrives in most parts of Nigeria especially Southwest, South, Southeast, and North Central. The most farmed species of fish in Nigeria are catfish and tilapia, even though Nigeria has an environment that supports the farming of other tropical species of fish.

A fish farm is considered to be well planned when the water control structure, different pond compartments/sizes, and other management structures complement each other.

The two most common fish farm in Nigeria

Tilapia Fish Farming: Tilapia is one of the common types of fish cultivated in Nigeria. It is a warm-water fish, with a rapid growth rate and comes in larger sizes compared to other fishes. Tilapia fishes grow in a freshwater environment such as streams, ponds, lakes but mostly not in brackish water.

Cat Fish Farming: Catfish is the most commonly farmed fish in Nigeria. It can be reared on a small or large scale. Farming catfish involves creating ponds, breeding fingerlings, or juvenile to the maturing stage.

Steps to consider while starting a fish farm

Safe Land: Any location is good since fish doesn’t cause any environmental disturbance. Look for affordable land in a safe area. Depending on the capacity you want to operate on, a plot of land is just good enough for an average fish farm.

Construct Ponds: You need to engage the service of an expert pond construction engineer or you go to another fish farm to get the specification and construction requirements. The plumbing work must be properly done to ensure proper drainage. There are different types of ponds you can use depending on your location. Such as earthen fish pond, concrete fish pond, plastic tank fish pond, tarpaulin fish pond, etc.

Borehole Construction: Adequate water supply is the lifeblood of fish farms and lack of it may result in disaster because water needs to be changed at a regular interval. Naturally, available sources of water such as borehole and river water are the most suitable. Rainwater and tap water from a chemically treated source is not recommended for fish cultivation.

Overhead Tank: This is the water reservoir from which water is supplied to your ponds. This tank has to be connected to your ponds through a plumbing system to make it convenient for water to flow into your ponds when needed.

Get Juvenile Fish: Get your juvenile from another farm that specialises in supplying it. You need to go for the high-yield species of catfish or tilapia and make sure you are getting it from a healthy farm.

Good Source of Feed: Fish feed is key to fish farming, also you must be sure of your source of feed.

Note: You need to be trained properly before engaging in fish farming for optimal results.

Nigerians consume nearly two million tons of fish per year, and the country’s growing population ensures demand will continue to boom. Demand far outweighs current national production, making it necessary to import fish from all over the world. However, in recent years the price of imported fish has increased significantly because of the devaluation of the Nigerian naira.

Opportunities in fish farming value chains are as follows:

Fish Hatchery (fingerlings production): This is an artificial way of reproducing fish. It is a process of hatching, breeding, and growing fishes throughout the various stages of the life cycle. You can make your money hatching or supplying fingerlings.

Pound Construction: Pound construction is a very vital aspect of fish farming; you need an expert to advise you on the kind of pound to use depending on your location.

Feed Production and Sales: you can make money selling fish feed or producing it.

Marketing of Fish: You don’t need to own a fish farm before making money from fish farming in Nigeria. All you need to do is to discover a market and contact a farmer you know, agree on a price per kg before contacting your buyers. Once you agree on the terms, you will move the fish. Most marketers or brokers usually have space where they keep fish.

Maggot Production: Maggots are used for fish feed production. It’s also used for fish fattening. Maggots are in high demand in the fish farming industry.

Smoked Fish: This is another business opportunity in fish farming that a lot of people are taking advantage of, because of the demand for smoked fish both in Nigeria and the international market. There is an available locally fabricated fish dryer you can use that can be fired with gas or charcoal.

Fish farming represents a major market opportunity for smallholder farmers in Nigeria.

Agbaji can be reached at <learnder@gmail.com>

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