How to Start Catfish farming in Nigeria
Catfish farming in Nigeria – Fish farming is branch of aquaculture known as pisciculture. Man has consumed fish from time immemorial as food and today, fish is a very important part of man’s diet across all continents of the world. Studies have shown that in Nigeria more than 65% of the population consumes catfish at least once a week, and at least in every home one specie of fish is part of the meal an average of twice a week.
With these statistics it is evident that fish farming has come to stay as one of the most lucrative agribusinesses in our country today. There are several thousand species of fish, as a matter of fact, about 10,000 species of sea life are discovered on a yearly basis, it is thus safe to say that there are several thousands more species of fish that are yet to be discovered. Out of the several thousands of species, some are economically important because of their consumability and have thus been subject of research over the years. A few of the economically important species that are now farmed all over the world include, carp, tilapia, salmon, catfish, as well as other crustaceans like crabs, crayfish, lobsters, etc.
In Nigeria, two out of the above named species are economically viable as they are part of almost every households’ meal. These species are tilapia and catfish. For the purpose of this article, we will be restricting our study to catfish, basically because it is the most popular and the easier of the two species to indulge.
Allow me to whet your financial appetite by furnishing you with information on the profitability of catfish farming in Nigeria.
You may ask yourself, why raise catfish after studying something totally different in the university, after all the experience I have in other fields? The answer is this, catfish farming is one of the most lucrative and fast rising businesses in Nigeria. Several people have become millionaires by engaging in catfish farming, and 90% of them had no prior knowledge or any educational degree relating to catfish farming.
There is no bar in Nigeria today that does not have catfish as part of its menu. It is used to make pepper soup (one of Nigeria’s major bar attractions), it is used for the famous point-and-kill, it is eaten as barbecue, the list is endless. It is evident that the demand for catfish is far higher than the supply. The major attraction for anyone going into the business is the fishes grow very fast, you know what that means? You got it right, quick turnover!!! Another marked advantage is the fact that the farm can be started anywhere, it is not super capital intensive.
Another question to answer is, IS CATFISH CONSUMPTION HEALTHY?
Recent studies have shown that the African catfish is low in fat and cholesterol content and high in protein (in fact higher that beef). This makes it highly nutritious, it is even advised that people above the age of 40 should consume more of catfish than meat, due to its low cholesterol content. What more could you ask for?
I believe at this point you are convinced that catfish farming is not just lucrative, but is a futuristic business to engage in.
HOW MUCH CAPITAL DO YOU NEED TO START A SMALL/MEDIUM SCALE CATFISH FARM?
The economic situation of the country presently pushes those seeking to indulge in business to search for one which is not capital intensive. Note that the amount of capital you need to start up is not really streamlined, the amount of cash needed to start depends on the scale at which you want to operate. There are several materials and equipment you however need to get before you start up (I will be stating them in the next few paragraphs) and these materials will be purchased with money. However, you have a range of options for improvisation especially since this is targeted at small/medium scale farmers.
WHERE CAN THE FARM BE LOCATED?
Unlike poultry farms that need to be situated away from residential areas because of the noise and odor, fish farms can be situated anywhere since there is no noise produced on the farm, neither is there emission of offensive odors from the farm. Regardless of these, several conditions still have to be considered in situating a fish farm, some of them include:
- Proximity to source of water: The main raw material required in fish farming is water, this is a no-brainer since we all know that fish cannot survive outside water. The farm should be located in a close to clean water supply that will meet the needs of the farm.
- Proximity to market: The customer must be satisfied and it is not economically wise for the product to be too distant from the consumer. Thus the farm should be located close to where the major consumers reside, to reduce the cost of transportation on the account of the farmer. Otherwise, there should be ease of accessibility to the farm, that is if the buyers need to come to the farm to buy.
- There should be enough space for the ponds, depending on how many you want to have. Since it is a business, you should also consider allowance for expansion; such that when the business grows you can still house more ponds.
- Proper drainage: You do not want to be a nuisance by draining the waste from your farm on to public places, therefore while considering your locating you should factor how to dispose your farm waste into the plan.
HOW TO HOUSE THE FISH
Basically, fish are housed in ponds. There are three kinds of ponds that can be constructed viz:
- Earthen pond
- Plastic pond
Before making a choice however, a lot of consideration needs to be taken as it cannot be undone once the pond has been constructed. For small scale farmers, it is advisable to go for the plastic ponds as they are quite cheap to construct and they can still house a reasonable amount of fish. In constructing the pond, you must also consider the circulation of water and the waste disposal. You must also consider the soil around the pond as there is a soil specification for areas where fish ponds are constructed (the soil has to be one with good compaction properties). I strongly advise that if you are a novice, you do not try to construct the pond yourself, please seek professional advice to avoid waste of resources and endangering the lives of your fish. One mistake in fish farming can be very costly and catastrophic.
SOURCE OF WATER
Studies have shown that in this part of the world, the best source of water for fish farming is borehole. Now do not get me wrong, wells and other natural sources could also be used, but before use, try growing a few fish in the water to see how they thrive. If you opt for a borehole, depending on the capacity of the farm, one or two should be made available along with overhead tanks for water storage. There should also be a backup system especially in the mechanism for pumping water to avoid any failures, as it may be fatal to the operation of the farm.
STOCKING THE FARM
To start up, you will need fingerlings. They can be gotten through hormonal induction or produced artificially. You can also make use of homoplastic gland suspension if you decide to generate your own fertilized eggs. It is advisable to just seek a good and reliable source for fingerlings purchase if you are going into small/medium scale fish farming, to avoid unnecessary stress, spending and loss due to lack of technical ability. There are several species of catfish, common species in Nigeria include:
- Heterobranchus bidorsalis
- Clarias nigro-digitatus
- Clarias gariepinus
- Heterobranchus spp (predominant in the Southeastern part of Nigeria)
- Clarias spp (predominant in Southwestern Nigeria)
FEEDING THE FISH
For optimal growth, the most essential nutrients needed by the fish are arginine, lysine and methionine. There is a variety of fish feeds in the market, though they are on the high side (pricewise), it is wise counsel to seek for ways to augment the feed if you are on a tight budget. There are other conventional feeds that can be administered such as soya bean cake, groundnut cake, plant residue, blood meal, etc. The major guideline is to ensure that you consult a professional or someone who has been into the business before you so you know what steps to take, how to get the right mix, when to feed, how to administer feed, etc.
For any business to grow from start up to being top notch, proper management is required. You need to set up several measures to ensure that your farm is properly managed, that is the only way it can grow and that is the only way you can breakeven and maximize profit. A few tips to consider:
- Start up with a purposeful, well written business plan. This can only be achieved after conducting a detailed feasibility study. Your business plan is what will guide your every step in the business and in case you need someone to invest at some point, your business plan is what entices them.
- Proper waste disposal on the farm. You do not want a disease outbreak on your farm because it could cost you your whole investment. It is thus expedient that you frequently dispose of waste and you do that in the proper way. The water in the ponds also need to be changed frequently since it is not flowing water, so as to renew the oxygen supply for the fish and remove unconsumed feed floating around or sediments.
- Proper record keeping which involves accounting as well other simple records like dates, customer details, consultant details, etc.
- Manpower on the farm. If you are running a small scale farm, you carry out virtually all the activities single handedly, but going into medium scale, you will need one or two hands to help out.
- Proper market survey. You know you are not rearing the fish for your own consumption, so you should conduct a proper market survey to furnish yourself with the information on what part of town requires your products and in what quantity, what is the frequency of purchase, are there other farmers in your locality, how much do they sell their products, and so on. With these pieces of information, you can decipher what others are doing that you need to do and also give yourself the advantage of thinking outside the box. If you can think outside the box, you are sure to make some more bucks.
PROFITABILITY OF CATFISH FARMING
As stated earlier, catfish is one of the most consumed sources of animal protein in Nigeria. From the local pepper soup joints, to the roadside barbecue sellers, to the high class restaurants, they all patronize catfish farmers. Mind you, that is asides families that buy for daily usage. The market demand for catfish is far higher than the supply and it will continue to increase due to its huge health benefits. One table size catfish can be sold for between #600 – #900 depending on your location and the turnover rate is really outrageous as the fish grow very fast. You can be making a huge amount of profit if you put in your best into this lucrative venture, I can assure you that within a few months, you should breakeven.
CHALLENGES AFFECTING CATFISH FARMING IN NIGERIA
Though this is one of the most lucrative businesses in Nigeria today, it has several challenges that are not just peculiar to the Nigerian terrain, but are faced generally.
- Fish farming is capital intensive.
- Acquiring of suitable land for siting the farm.
- Depending on the scale at which you operate, it can be labor intensive.
- Lack of technical knowhow.
- Pest activities.
- There is usually cannibalism among the fish.
I trust that this article has been quite helpful in educating you about catfish farming. I however advise that you seek professional counsel if you want to go ahead and practice.
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