In this article, we will look at the cost of starting a fish farm in Nigeria. Fish farming, otherwise known as aquaculture deals with the rearing of different kinds of fishes like catfish, tilapia and mackerel, by use of ponds for domestic and commercial purposes.
Fish just like any sea food is very rich in protein and micro nutrients, it constitutes about 41 percent of the total animal protein intake thus the consumption of fish in Nigeria is very high and fishermen cannot meet up the demand, the rearing of fish by farmers reduces this deficit in the fish demand-supply gap by boosting supply for both consumption and export purposes.
To meet the high demand for fish in Nigeria which is spiked by its high nutritional value and unique taste of fish delicacies, we will need over two million metric tons of fish but the total domestic fish supply is currently less than 0.7 million metrics.
This implies that we need to import fish massively to meet up with its demand no wonder Nigeria is ranked as the largest importer of frozen fish in Africa.
I believe that money spent on importing fish can be injected into domestic production to boost agriculture, reduce cost of fish, create jobs and reduce poverty.
Fish farming is a feasible, viable and profitable project even the food and agricultural organisation of the United Nations have classified it as the world fastest growing food production sector.
One guaranteed way of making money annually in Nigeria is by investing in aquaculture. With the right knowledge and practise you are sure of getting hundred percent return of your investment in fish farming.
To start a fish farm, you will have to invest as much money as possible depending on the size you want to start with, but it is advisable to start on a small scale before expanding as you acquire experience because catfish farming is a major investment operation that needs careful consideration before start up.
You will need capital for labour, land, pond construction, equipments and all other operational costs. The commonest species of fish reared on fish farms in Nigeria is the cat fish and this write up summarizes the basics of cat fish rearing.
There are two divisions of catfish farming, that can be either operated separately or integrated into one process and these are the nursery fish farming and the grow out fish farming.
The grow out fish farming is dependent on the nursery because a farmer cannot grow fish without a nursery which involve the inducement of the female fish to lay eggs, which are then fertilized, incubated and hatched into little fishes known as fries.
The fries are then nurtured within a month into fingerlings which is the suitable size for grow out farming. The primary operation is in between the nursery and grow out operation and involves the nurturing of the four weeks within which they grow into post fingerlings, mini juveniles and juveniles.
These can be further nurtured for the next four to five months into grow out sizes or table sized fish suitable for sale and consumption. Like any other form of animal husbandry, fish farming can be risky because fish is very sensitive to manage and a little slip or error will hinder the growth of your fish and even death which will lead to a huge loss.
Fish farming has no by products like poultry so there is no extra or alternative form of making profits outside selling the fish itself. We also have the issue of competitive sales between fishermen and fish farmers; fish from the sea tastes better than fish grow in ponds and the cost of rearing fish makes the price of pond fish high. Where there are a good number of fishermen in the market, the demand for pond fish maybe low.
I forgot to mention that the cost of starting a fish farm is high, it I capital intensive when compared to poultry farming.
A small fish farm can be started with five hundred thousand naira and above while a bigger farm will require millions of naira for start up. Starting a catfish farm entails:
1. Write out a business plan that will guide on how much your investments will likely cost, expect challenges and how to surmount them. Find and study another fish farming business plan, use it as a guide in drawing your own plan.
2. Find at least half plot of land which is very suitable for an average fish farm but you can settle for something bigger if you can afford it. Fishes do not constitute environmental nuisance so the land does not need to be in a remote area. You will need the location to be easily accessible to labour and market.
3. Construct your ponds with be services of an expert pond construction engineer to avoid mistakes and to meet specifications and construction requirements and provisions must be made for proper drainage.
4. Make provisions for constant and adequate water supply because this is the back bone of a fish farm, a natural source of water like the bore hole is always the most suitable because chemically treated water is not recommended for cultivation of fish. So dig a bore hole and purchase over head tanks which must be connected to the ponds through plumbing system to make it convenient for water to get into ponds as the need arises.
5. Get your juvenile fish from another farm that supplies it or grow yours. But be sure you go for high yield species.
6. Acquire knowledge on how to run your fish farm or employed skilled and experienced labour.
7. Research extensively on marketing to find out the species of fish with the highest demand in your area. Map out strategies on how to sell your fish once they are mature.
BENEFITS OF FISH FARMING
Fish farming is very profitable, with proper planning and management, a million naira invested in aquaculture will yield two million within seven months.
There are no environmental hazards involved in fish farming, you can set it up anywhere even in residential areas unlike piggery and poultry.
Fish sells faster than any other animal products in Nigeria and sometimes sell cheaper than meats, fish constitutes more than sixty percent ofmeat products and are high in low fat protein that is filled with omega 3 fatty acid and vitamins D and B2, calcyuim, phosphorous, iron, zinc, magnessuim and pottasuim.
You can sell and distribute imported fish feeds like ziegler gold and you can formulate local fish feeds and se up a fish feed mill.
Offering consultancy services in hatchery design, fish pond construction, spawning, melange and grow out production can also boost your business and create extra returns on profit.
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