Solutions To Fish Farming Problems In Nigeria

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Are you a fish farmer or prospective investor in the fish industry in Nigeria and are researching to get right information on the challenges facing the fish farming industry and how to surmount them?  You are at the right place. It’s always important to get the right information about a business investment opportunity before venturing into it. 

What you're going to know here:

  • What is aquaculture/fish farming 
  • Prospects of fish farming in Nigeria 
  • Problems of fish farming in Nigeria 
  • Solutions to the problems of fish farming in Nigeria

Introduction 

Aquaculture simply means the farming of fish and other marine organisms. It basically involves the cultivation of freshwater and saltwater animals in a controlled environment. 

Fish farming began about 69 years ago in Nigeria. The practice of fish farming is not the same as harvesting seawater fish. Fish farming in Nigeria started as a government driven venture in Panyam Fish Farm in 1951 in Jos, Plateau State. It’s now private sector led. Aquaculture is practiced in all regions of the country, but the most active ones are the South East, South South, South West and North Central regions of Nigeria. 

Prospects of Fish Farming in Nigeria 

Today, Nigeria is the largest market for fish products in Africa. Researches have revealed that fish farming is the only way to bridge the gap between total fish demand and total domestic fish production. According to these researches, Nigeria went into fish farming as a result of decrease in supply from ocean fishes due to over fishing, consumer population increase, habitats destruction and water pollution.

Read also: Areas of Specialization in Fish Farming 

Nigeria consumes about 2.97 million metric tons of fish per year but produces only about 1.07 million metric tons annually, leaving a huge deficit of about 1.9 million metric tons to importation with import bill of $1.2b. Even the 1.07 million metric tons produced locally, only about 313,231 are  produced through aquaculture, about 759,828 metric tons are through fisheries. 

Read more on prospects of fish farming in Nigeria

Problems of Fish Farming in Nigeria

Like every other subsector in the agricultural sector of Nigerian economy, fish farming is faced with some challenges. Major challenges in that sector include:

  • poor fish farming methods, 
  • inadequate technical capabilities and skills, 
  • high cost of fish feeds, 
  • low financing of fish farming projects by deposit money banks, 
  • inadequate storage and processing facilities,
  • poor quality of brood stock, 
  • flooding and 
  • market failures.

Solutions to the Problems 

1. Access to financing: To address some of these challenges, Central Bank of Nigeria through its various intervention programmes has to extend facility to fish value chain amounting to N21b. Under the Commodity Development Initiative, CDI, the bank has disbursed a total of N500m to 40 companies and over 3,000 farmers across the nation. This intervention has  led to annual increment of 200 metric tons  mainly through fish farming. Government at various levels should initial more programs targeted at empowering fish farmers. Deposit money banks, DMBs should provide credit facility for the aquaculture sector. The farmers should as well reduce the risks in their businesses to make them bankable. 

2. Quality brood stock: Not all fish species perform well in culture. For profitable venture, the farmer’s ideal candidate species must have either of the following qualities:

Easy to breed in captivity e.g Tilapia 

Fast growing e.g Hetrobranchus

Hardy and resistant to diseases e.g Clarias (also known as Catfish) 

Tolerant of poor water quality e.g Clarias

Easily fed with supplementary feeds e.g Tilapia

Low production cost e.g Tilapia, Clarias 

Easily marketable to Nigerian consumers e.g Tilapia, Hetrotis, Carp, Clarias 

The government should engage the Nigerian Institute of Marine Research and Oceanography on fishing and fish management to develop quality brood stock species.

Read: How to Start Fish Hatchery and Fingerlings Production Business in Nigeria 

3. Proper Housing methods: fish farmers should make use of concrete ponds, plastic tanks and mobile tarpaulin tanks methods in housing their fish. And avoid the use of earth pond, pens and cages which are prone to flooding. 

4. Fish Health Management and Biosecurity: Maintenance of good fish health is important to profitable fish farming. Slow growth, poor feed consumption, low yield, increased diseases and mortality are the resultant effects of poor fish health management. Therefore, fish health management should be taken seriously to ensure profitability of aquaculture. This can be achieved by choosing a farm site with good water quality and quantity, high quality feed (both in nutrition and sizes), quality brood stock. 

Biosecurity is important in preventing or reducing the risk of introducing or spreading infectious disease in to or between fish population. 

5. Storage and processing facilities: Experts have indeed said that fishes are vulnerable to tissues decomposition and microbial spoilage because they begin to depreciate as soon as they are harvested from the water. Through proper funding, players in the fish farming value chain can adopt the use of technology in storage and processing of fish products.

6. Market stabilization and linkage: Market failure is one of the major problems of fish farming in Nigeria. Fish farming in particular and agriculture in general can’t be successful without marketing — getting the products to the hands of the consumers. Price fluctuations affect the farmers revenue. Poor road network and cost of transportation affect the profitability of fish farming business. Due to low access to the market, fish farmers must times sell their produce at the farm gate, and the buyers buy them at ridiculous prices compared to what is obtainable in the market. The government should therefore, improve the state of road infrastructure to reduce cost of transportation and losses on the road, and also link the fish farmers with off-takers who will buy the fishes at reasonable prices. Cooling vans should be used in the transportation of fish products to preserve fishes against  spoilage while on transit. 

7. Getting the fish importers to embrace and implement backward integration in the commercial fish farming sector: This will boost local production of fish. With the rising in consumption of fish products in Nigeria, one can only imagine how limitless supply would be when the amount expended on importation is invested in the local production value chain.

Related article: 20 Major Fish Diseases: Causes, Symptoms, Preventions and Treatments



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