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SECRETS TO SUCCESS IN CATFISH FARMING



Photo credit: Segun
Catfish farming is becoming more popular than ever before; even new entrants in the industry have started to make fortune from the business. Catfish is a good source of protein, essential vitamins and minerals. Agropreneurs are making more money by adding value to catfish through the use of Smoking Kiln, Packaging material and Branding. Specially smoked catfish are on high demand and highly priced at local and international market. Smoking kiln is effective in drying the catfish to safe moisture content which makes it suitable for export, even, with the use of smoking kiln, nutritional quality, taste, aroma and colour are greatly improved. There are many ways to start making money in catfish farming, some of them includes; Pond Construction, Materials and equipment supply, Feed Production, Hatchery, Catfish production, Catfish Processing and Export. Annual Net Profit/Sales of enterprise producing Fish seeds (Fingerlings/Juveniles), Fresh catfish and smoked catfish are 53.37%, 54.84% and 57.78% respectively.
Some catfish farmers share their experiences with Agropreneur zone;
“I got my smoking kiln from Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR) in Lagos” said Barrister Raymos, CEO, Raymos Guanah Farms.
Smoking kiln varies in size, capacity, batch process and ultimately its efficiency. The price of smoking kiln ranges from N100,000 - N500,000. A well packaged and branded dried catfish can be sold between N900 - N1000 compared to fresh catfish normally sold for N500 per kg. Smoked Catfish operations involves, Cleaning, Brining, Smoke-drying and packaging. The shelf life of smoked catfish is longer but the extent largely depends on processing, drying and packaging.
Segun Akande, a notable fish farmer also said that FIIRO has smoking kiln. He continued by saying,
“At the end of the day, it's all about the numbers - how much you've spent, how many kilograms you realised and how much the market is willing to pay for. That's when you realise that Agric. is a business, the point where the books don't balance for some and they run away saying 'agric doesn't pay'. So it helps to start with the mindset of cost control and funds optimization. Allow the first cycle to be a trial session, preferably hands on. That experience alone will open your eyes to a lot and prevent rip-offs later on. Another challenge at the end of the cycle is during harvest try getting buyers about two weeks before the actual harvest. Having multiple buyers will mitigate disappointment and aid competition. You may also have to see how you can get paid fully in cash, although what really happens is part payment and balance is made afterwards.
Photo credit: Adeniyi
Again, what most people haven't really looked at is the processing/smoking and distributing (including export). Now that's where the money really is. Another lucrative and often over looked part is hatching. Total hatching cost per 1,000 is less than N2. Yet in 8 weeks, profit is over 400%! This figure may vary, but not by much. If at all, the variation is northwards. Finally, the greatest challenge and the most cost is feeding (over 70% of total expenditure). There's a great opportunity in 'financing feeding' for catfish farmers. Financiers can either be paid in cash or they take the equivalent in kilogram which can then be processed and sold. LAPO Microfinance Bank is presently offering financing to some farmers here in Ikorodu”
Bolaji Adebola, a pig farmer in Ijebu-Ode, started catfish barely two months ago as at the time of writing this article, he advised that management culture and what we feed our fishes should be major concern. He further said that, “Concrete ponds are a bit expensive to construct because of high material consumption rate (Cement, 9 inches bricks, etc). A concrete pond requires expertise to avoid collapse. Getting the right seeds (fingerlings) matters a lot, we were lucky to get good once with very low death rate and fast growing. We change water once every 3/4 days. Feed them with Coppens, Durante Multi feeds (alternatively). We have also been blessed with dead chickens from a nearby poultry we cook and serve to both pigs and fishes. The fishes consume a whole chicken within 20 minutes. So far it’s been interesting, I think I love catfish farming, seeing them grow is joyful”.

“Fish farming is a great viable farming activity. Fish farming is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing agriculture enterprises in Nigeria. The importance of fisheries to the Nigeria economy is indicated by its contribution to the gross domestic product being 5.4% in 2002. Nigerians are high fish consumers with total current consumption figures of about 1.5 million metric tons. The contribution of fisheries to the nation economy is very significant in term of employment, income generation, poverty alleviation, foreign exchange earnings and provision of raw materials for the animal feed industry. The feed has to do with the growth of the Fish.
Photo credit: Damilola
Fingerlings + Good feeds = Good Table sized fish.
How to calculate the quantity of feed required - The quantity of feed required to feed fish daily can be calculated if the stocking density and the average weight of fish can be estimated, this can be done by sampling the fish either biweekly or monthly. For example, if a farmer has 100 fingerlings of 10grams average weight in 1 hectare of fish farm. The daily feed requirement at 5% feeding rate will be;
F=W x S x P / 1000 x100 =10 x 1000 x 5 / 1000 x 100 = 0.5 kg/ha
Where F is Weight of feed, W is weight of fish, S is stocking rate, P is percentage body weight. The fact is each fish farmer has his own style of feeding. When the Average weight [grams] is 10-50, I feed them 2 times in a day, morning and evening. Major types of ponds include; Earthen ponds, Concrete ponds [Homestead pond], Recirculatory, Tarpaulin and Collapsible tanks can be used too” Fasakin, an agro-allied entrepreneur submitted.
In conclusion, for a successful fish farming, it is important to consider, material & equipment quality, pond type, fingerlings quality, water availability & quality, feed type, management practice and target market.

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