Fish farming is a very productive business to start in Nigeria, seeing as fish is a very important part of the Nigerian staple food menu.
However, not knowing what is involved in a fish farming business, and not properly understanding the processes involved in starting a fish farming business in Nigeria would be very detrimental to the success of your fish farming business.
This article aims to solve the issue of little to no knowledge of fish farming business startups in Nigeria; I will be talking about the types of fish that are popular in the Nigerian fish farming industry, the processes of starting a fish farming business in Nigeria and different ways to make money from fish farming in Nigeria.
Types Of Fish Farming Systems In Nigeria
Fish farming systems in Nigeria are of two major varieties:
- Extensive system
- Intensive system
- Semi-intensive system
This system of fish farming consists of the use of ponds and irrigation ditches.
It involves installing the fish in a semi-natural environment like a natural pond or creating an irrigation ditch, and granting the fish access to a natural food supply.
An external fish farm is regulated by using special equipment and a variety of other fish species besides the major one you are breeding for profit.
The intensive system of fish farming could either be a closed circulation system or an open system.
A closed-circulation intensive system of fish farming consists of making use of artificial ponds, aquariums, or fish tanks to contain and raise fish for sale.
In the intensive open system, fish are raised in cages/caged off areas of natural water bodies like dams or netted areas of ponds.
With intensive fish farming systems, you will be able to control the water quality, oxygen levels, and food supply of the fish on your farm.
Intensive systems of managing fish farms are however quite expensive, more than extensive systems, as it costs more to maintain the food supply of the fish and prevent disease with constant vaccinations of your fish products.
Despite this, the intensive system of fish farming is however also higher in productivity rates, so your expenses will be worth every penny.
Some Nigerian fish farmers utilize the semi-intensive system, also known as the restocking system, which is right between extensive and intensive systems of fish farming, and involves.
In the semi-intensive system of fish farming in Nigeria, fish are raised to a particular age where they are released into the wild to feed naturally and fend for themselves and are captured again when they are nearing marketable age, to be contained till they are completely big enough for sales.
How To Start Fish Farming In Nigeria
When starting a fish farming business in Nigeria, there are several steps to follow, including:
- Getting adequate knowledge about running a fish farm
- Registering your fish farming business in Nigeria
- Finding good land to create your pond
- Getting the right equipment to handle your fish farm
- Choosing the breed of fish you want to rear/raise
- Selecting a good fish feed type
- Carrying out proper market research into the Nigerian fish market
- Marketing and selling your fish product in Nigeria
Draw Up A Business Plan For The Fish Farming Business
Drafting out a business plan for your fish farming business is an important first step to take in your startup.
You will need to include mainly in the business plan the goals/objectives you have for starting the fish farming business, a list of the products and services your fish farm would be offering, the location of your fish farm, the size of the fish farm and if you have possible plans to expand, among several other things like a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats expected of your fish farming business).
While drawing up your fish farming business plan, remember that a good business plan gives access to loans, investments, and other financial support your fish farm would need, and take great care to draw up your fish farm business plan; make several drafts if you can, before settling on the final one.
How Much Capital Is Needed For A Fish Farming Business Startup In Nigeria
Depending on the system of fish farming you decide to adopt in your Nigerian fish farming business, the cost for a startup ranges anything from N350,000 to about N4,000,000.
A small-scale fish farm startup that functions in a closed circulation could cost between N350,000-N600,000 approximately; an open system may cost a bit less, depending on the breed of fish and fish feed.
On a larger scale, you could be spending as much as N3,000,000, or at least N700,000 in acquiring everything you need for your fish farming business; from the required documents and permits to set up the pond/containment area to purchasing equipment.
Acquire Adequate Training In The Fish Farming Business
Before jumping into a fish farming business, be sure that you have acquired enough training, to fully grasp what is expected of you in your fish farming business.
Note that this adequate training does not come from random short videos or one-time seminars on fish farming.
You could sign up to take classes under someone more experienced in fish farming, with registered success in the fish farming business who would become a tutor/mentor, or you could work in an established fish farm for a while to gain a better understanding of what the fish farming business is about.
Register Your Fish Farming Business
By registering your fish farming business with the Nigerian Corporate Affairs Commission, you are making your fish business legitimate in the country.
This way, you get to enjoy benefits tailored to registered Nigerian businesses like financial aids/grants/loans, full recognition of your fish farming business, and access to foreign payment channels, just in case you get foreign clients.
Get Necessary Permits
You will need to get a Fishing Permit from the Fisheries department of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria.
Application forms are available at office branches all over the country; just walk it and pick a form, fill it out, and don’t forget to attach the required documents stipulated in the ‘Required Documents’ section, before submitting it to the right authority at the office.
This Fishing Permit allows you to own and run a fish farm, and carry out fish farming activities legitimately as a fish farming business.
Get A Good Pond
Another important part of starting a fish farming business is getting a good containment area to store and raise the fish you are rearing for the market, whether it is a pond, an aquarium, or a fish tank.
Be careful in selecting the land and pond type you want to use for your fish farm; bad land could lead to overflooding and drowning of your fish and faulty ponds could easily get destroyed, and incur extra costs for you.
Selecting Good Land For Your Fish Farm
In choosing the land to situate your fish farm, several factors need to be considered such as:
- The flood history of the land
- The soil type, texture, and composition of the land
- The general environment
Good land for fish farming should be free from pollution, and industrial and domestic waste.
You should also consider the source of water available on the land; from a nearby pond, river, stream, dam, or if the land is suitable enough for you to install your water supply (e.g a borehole).
The type of pond you will use in your fish farm determines the type of land you will need to choose.
A concrete pond should be in a damp environment, but not a waterlogged area, so the concrete walls will not get weakened and collapse; the same goes for an earthen pond.
Choosing The Type Of Pond To Use In Your Fish Farming Business
Artificial ponds are alternatives to natural water bodies in fish farming and could vary from earthen ponds to plastic fish tanks.
Earthern ponds are artificial ponds made from soil materials, and are cool for containing fish you are rearing; one drawback however is that earthen ponds easily collapse in waterlogged areas, or crack and weaken under very hot /harsh wind conditions, which leads to losses and extra costs in fixing.
The more common ponds used in Nigerian fish farming businesses are concrete ponds, which are used in the closed-circulation system of intensive fish farming.
Concrete ponds eliminate any risks of erosion that may be caused by waves created from the wind or fish activities, mechanized aeration, and water currents.
Another type of pond used in the Nigerian fish farming business is fiber ponds, which are plastic ponds made from empty plastic containers or recycled plastic water tanks.
One major advantage of fiber ponds is the movement factor; with plastic ponds, your fish farming business is made mobile and you can move around easily.
Determine The Breed Of Fish You Want To Farm
The next step in starting your Nigerian fish farming business is choosing the specie of fish you want to raise/deal in.
You do not necessarily need to pick one particular specie alone; you can decide to grow a polyculture of two or three different fish breeds on the same fish farm, to boost productivity rates and regulate the feeding and health of the fish.
Most Popular Breeds For Fish Farming In Nigeria
In Nigeria, three main breeds of fish are the most popularly farmed, which are:
Purchase Fingerlings And Feed
When starting a fish farm, you either purchase your fish as fingerlings or as juveniles; juveniles are several weeks older than fingerlings.
I would recommend that as a fish farming beginner you purchase your fish as juveniles; fingerlings are 1-3 weeks old, while juveniles are 4-6 weeks old.
This is because as juveniles, your fish will be a bit more mature and more likely to withstand disease and harsh conditions, should you be unable to handle some care precautions; with juvenile stock, you have less risk of death, as opposed to raising fingerlings.
Best Fish Feed Brands In Nigeria
Selecting good feed is key in your fish farming business; bad feed means bad food supply for your fish stock, which would lead to death by starvation or food poisoning, and you would have huge losses just starting your fish farm.
There are several good fish feed brands in Nigeria to choose from, some of which include:
- Blue Crown
- Aqualis, among others.
In selecting a good fish feed, pay attention to the presence of amino acids like lysine, crude protein, and arginine within the feed; fishmeal, for instance, is a great source of oil proteins.
The fish feed can also be gotten from other low-cost conventional and unconventional animal by-products, and even plant residue like groundnut cake, soybean meat, e.t.c.
The best type of fish feed usually is in pelleted form, this makes it easier to feed the fish on your farm as it helps the feed float better, and aids in an easier feeding process for the fish.
Must-Have Items/ Equipment For Fish Farming
As a fish farmer in Nigeria, there are several pieces of equipment you need to have to ensure the smooth running of your fish farming business, including seine nets, water testing kits, graders, and aeration devices.
This is the most important equipment to own on your fish farm because it provides water for the fish whenever you change old water/drain out the water for harvesting fish.
Water pumps always ensure that there is adequate water supplying the pond as often as needed, canceling the stress of having to carry water from external sources every time it is needed.
A seine net is a large wall of netting deployed over a body of water/school of fish in a pond.
These nets are used in harvesting fish when the current stock’s growth cycle is over and it is ready for sale.
Water Testing Kits
These are used to measure important parameters in aquaculture; they test the suitability of water for the fish in your fish farm.
Water-testing kits make use of titration procedures, reagents, and color discs to determine parameter concentrations and monitor these concentrations.
Some of these parameters water-testing kits are used to handle include temperature and pH levels and dissolved oxygen amounts in the water.
The test kits ensure that these levels are kept at acceptable ranges for better production on your fish farm.
Grading equipment is used to sort fish into different sizes, whether before restocking or during harvesting, just before sales.
Manual graders function by using boxes fitted with different-sized screens based on the different fish sizes, and placing these boxes in the water with the fish; the smaller-sized fish swim through the screen while bigger fish are retained.
Mechanical graders reduce the stress in manually screening/grading fish, as they are already made grading machines.
Storage Tanks/Water Source
The type of water to be used in fish farms is limited to borehole water and water from rivers/any other natural water body; do not use chemically treated water like tapwater, or rainwater to store your fish or they will die off.
Always remember to occasionally change the water your fish stock is contained in, because dirty water raises the risks of disease and death to the fish.
It is also wise to have a storage tank handy, to store water just in case your usual source of water supply is not available.
Market Your Fish Farm Products
Once your fish reach a healthy, marketable size, after you have properly fed and raised them in a conducive fish farm environment, you can now sell them off in the fish market.
Promoting your fish farming business in Nigeria is mostly done with word of mouth; let people know that you are running a fish farm, with specifics on the type of fish you have, especially restaurants and catering services. And ensure that you provide top-notch services, to be sure your fish farming business is propagated by them to others.
It is also helpful to have a profile on an online store; this expands the range of potential customers you can reach.
Aspects/Groups In The Fish Market
In marketing your fish stock, you should be sure to understand the aspects and groups of people involved in the fish farming market in Nigeria, which are:
Wholesalers buy fish from fish farms in bulk and sell to retailers, whether mature fish ready for consumption/factory use or fingerlings and juveniles to start up a new fish farm.
This group focuses on the quality of the fish stock, the quantity, and the price, so these are the key factors to consider when dealing with fish wholesalers in Nigeria.
As a Nigerian fish farmer, wholesalers are your major customers, the group that provides the most capital for your fish farming business and that you make the most profit from; they also help in promoting your business to other customers.
Wholesalers also supply fish to processing plants as raw materials for manufacturing products such as canned tuna, fish sticks, and fish burgers.
Retailers could either be big or small, depending on their enterprise and how far their range of customer reach goes.
They pay attention to the price of fish stock, quality and quantity, transportation costs of moving the products from the wholesalers/fish farms, and storage costs.
In Nigeria, bigger retailers can get their fish directly from fish farms; you can decide to make this available in your fish farm too, to increase profit avenues for your fish farming business.
Smaller retailers sell the fish stock gotten from the wholesalers to grocery stores, online stores, and fish markets.
This refers to customers that purchase your fish stock purely for personal consumption; whether it is for edible consumption or to manufacture products that are to be consumed, consumers do not purchase fish products for monetary/profit purposes.
Although consumers purchase fish from grocery stores, fish markets, and online stores, you can make it possible for consumers to get their fish supply directly from your fish farm, raising your profits.
Consumers are also interested in the price, quality, and quantity of the fish products gotten from your farm, but they are more interested in the variety, level of freshness, and health status of the fish; whatever fish is being consumed has to be fresh and healthy to be ingested/consumed.
Starting a fish farming business in Nigeria not only requires diligence and lots of capital, but you also need a good business plan, adequate training, the right equipment, clean water supply, good feed, and a tendency to work with/maneuver through the Nigerian fish market properly.
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