Small Scale Fish Farming In Nigeria – The Catfish Sustainability Project (CSP) in Nigeria has achieved remarkable success since 2015 by promoting income generation opportunities for small-scale fish farmers through sustainable aquaculture systems. It is an initiative by both Skretting to build farmers’ capacity through regular field visits, advisory services and support to farmers through the introduction of rotational feed.
The CSP is funded by Nigeria and Scratching and facilitated by the Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) in Ibadan.
Small Scale Fish Farming In Nigeria
In January 2020, the fourth phase of CSP started with the aim of attracting 233 som farmers in addition to the existing 467 beneficiaries of the project. At the end of the year, 175 new beneficiaries were added, a total of 642 som fish farmers, including 519 males and 123 females in 35 groups of fish farmers. About 264 farmers received 247, 275 kg of fodder between January and December 2020 through rotational feeding support.
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Through group dynamics and capacity building programs for farmers on empowerment, savings, credit and cooperative management, there has been a marked improvement in sales and income of project beneficiaries. Although the COVID-19 pandemic affected farmers’ sales, 47.96% of existing catfish farmers and 22.8% of new farmers increased their income from fish production and marketing by 34.8%.
To promote a sustainable aquaculture system, fish farmers were frequently trained in best management practices, and implementation was ensured through regular monitoring and technical advisory services. 69% of targeted smallholder farmers applied these innovative best aquaculture practices and 93.5% of the catfish produced by participating fish farmers had an average survival rate.
The production cycle has decreased from three to two cycles per year, as farmers have been unable to sell their fish and buy new batches as a result of the pandemic. Similarly, as farmers started feeding rations to avoid losses, their growth rate decreased, but average weight sold increased overall.
An increase in the average weight of fish sold led to an increase in farmers’ income. Farmers sold fish at higher prices to fishmongers in 2020, especially towards the end of the year. The average profit of 27% in 2019 increased to 34.8% in 2020.
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A major challenge for the project was the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fish production and marketing. It also restricted the visits of farms and farmers, thus restricting the planting of new farmers and the planned training of farmers. Similarly, the erratic and unpredictable climate affected farmers’ production and sales.
In 2021, we plan to increase the number of beneficiaries of the project from the current 642 farmers to 850 farmers. Additional programs to improve farmers’ adherence to good management practices, training and capacity building for old and new groups will be conducted. The CSP team is also working to provide catfish farmers with feed stock and connect them with existing groups and institutions through study tours. While the first Aqua Insights report focused entirely on tilapia, not tilapia farming. Aquaculture is the only possible solution to sub-Saharan Africa’s food crisis. Catfish (C. gariepinus) production is growing at a similar or even faster rate. However, compared to tilapia production, catfish production is concentrated in only a few places, especially in Nigeria. This is mainly due to the lack of species familiarity among consumers in most sub-Saharan African countries. But catfish is one of the most popular fish in Nigeria. It is therefore not surprising that this country is the largest producer of catfish in Africa. It independently produces catfish similar to the tilapia product of sub-Saharan Africa. In this blog, we look at what we see as an exciting investment opportunity in the catfish industry.
I remember walking through the parking lot of an African and hybrid catfish farm and the hatchery of Fleuren & Nooijen, a well-known catfish breeder in the Netherlands, and seeing an escaped African catfish running down the street. channel. This is my impression of catfish: an incredibly powerful (and in my opinion, ugly) fish. After the fingerling stage, the fish can survive easily in all types of production systems. It can be grown in low density, simple soil ponds; in high-density concrete or plastic tanks; or even more intensively in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). If the fish do not suffocate during the growth period, which means that they breathe air, the fish survive in many situations, because they are not so susceptible to viral diseases and can grow in harsh conditions. conditions. They also survive water as long as the skin is wet.
Cat breeding in Nigeria began in the 1950s in an experimental phase. With donor support, the government was responsible for expanding catfish farming and farming until the late 1990s. At the beginning of the 21st century, the private sector began to show interest. While in tilapia, large corporate farms such as Yalelo and Lake Harvest in Zambia and Uganda (East Africa) and Tropo Farms and Triton in Ghana (West Africa) are contributing to the growth of catfish production, while the expansion in Nigeria is mainly due to small farms. – and medium-sized enterprises. Unlike the previous fish farmers, many of these entrepreneurs started growing fish in tanks and roads in suburban areas.
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The Dutch, who also do some catfish farming in the Netherlands – sometimes in modernized livestock farms – have been instrumental in the development of Nigeria’s catfish sector. In 2000, Willie Fleuren (former co-owner of Fleuren & Nooijen Catfish Farming Company) founded Durante Fish Industries in Nigeria with the late Ade Alakija. The company specializes in catfish breeding and feed production. It imported hatchery and farming systems and feed production equipment from the Netherlands and was one of the drivers of the rapid expansion of catfish production in Nigeria in the first part of the 21st century. At that time, the lack of fish and feed, as in the case of tilapia, harmed the development of catfish farming. Although the government operated several breeding stations, these fingerlings were not widely available and, even when available, often did not function optimally. But after the private sector intervened, high-quality fingers became available. As Durante produced extruded feed locally, farmers also depended on imported feed. This was a big step towards making intensive catfish farming more efficient for farmers.
In 2014, fish feed manufacturer Skretting, part of Dutch animal feed manufacturer Nutreco, acquired 60% of Durante Fish Industries’ feed business and 3 years later, Durante sold the remaining shares to Skretting. Skretting is currently building the largest aqua feed plant in Nigeria. But Willie Fleuren did not leave the catfish industry. Today, he heads Gerrit Fleuren Ventures, through which he continues to contribute to the expansion of the aquaculture sector in Nigeria. He runs his own hatchery and feed distribution business and also provides consulting services. It is one of the main drivers of RAS adoption in the Nigerian catfish industry. He also has a YouTube channel and has published two books on catfish farmers (see video 1). By sharing his experience, passion and experience, and of course, combined with the strong business results of his operations, he inspires and motivates other entrepreneurs to take up fish farming as well. He is still a true pioneer in the industry.
Although the majority of African catfish farmers in Nigeria still farm in ponds, the largest volume of production comes from concrete tanks in suburban areas, roads and RAS. All of these production systems, which can be used anywhere in the country, including backyards, can be a key part of the solution to meeting the future fish demand of Nigeria’s growing urban population. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 400 catfish are stocked in a 4m x 3m x 1.3m concrete tank in a typical backyard and fed a balanced diet for 6 months. Water is renewed once or twice a week and an average yield of 150 kg/m3/cycle is expected. Recently, the use of RAS has expanded. These systems come with an electric pump and a plastic substrate biological filter. Production rates of around 400 kg/m3/cycle are common in these systems — these new systems are several times more productive than ponds and traditional concrete tanks, but they also require more investment.
Kees Verbeek, who has worked for Rabobank in Africa for many years and had the opportunity to visit catfish farmers in Nigeria, tells us that for him, the catfish farming sector in Nigeria is a shining example of how entrepreneurship can drive growth. He recalls that once the commercial potential of small-scale catfish farming was proven, many small and medium entrepreneurs seized the opportunity and became the engine of growth in Nigeria’s catfish sector. After all, it is impossible to invest in such small producers. Instead, as we described in the Tilapia report, we are looking for slightly larger companies that can be growth platforms and build intensive local industries. as
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