There are quite a number of important factors that must be put into consideration before starting out a fish farming business. This is essential in order to have a smooth running business. Below are key factors to be considered;
Technical knowledge: Knowing what to do and when to do it is pertinent in fish farming, as a single step not done rightly and timely can negatively impact on an entire cycle of production. For prospective fish farmers, it is advisable to learn from experts in this field in order to acquire the required know-how adequately. This technical knowledge is important right to the planning stage till the cropping (harvesting) and marketing stage of the business.
Marketability: This here is another factor that must be considered as the purpose of production or manufacturing any product is the market. Before starting out, a critical assessment of the target market must be carried out to be sure the fish you about producing will be accepted and is in demand. Doing this will automatically ease the challenge you might want to encounter when it is time to crop (harvest).
Resources available: This is a factor that should go a long way in determining whatever plans you have for the proposed business. The fish business is such that feeding of fishes which covers usually 75-80% of the entire business can and should not be halt for any reason. Hence, planning according to resources available is important. A very good way to efficiently utilize the available resource is to consult with an expert with practical knowledge in fish farming.
Environment: Knowing the history of environment in terms of soil types, healthy water availability, history and accessibility of environment are all equally important before citing and starting a fish farm Having these knowledge will inform decisions on the types of pond (fish culture medium) suitable for the available environment. Not all available environments are suitable for fish farming, which might be due to different reasons. Soil type for instance will inform if your soil will retain water and if not, what needs to be done. Having adequate history of the proposed farm will inform if anthropogenic (human) activities in the environment will be suitable to have a fish farm located there. So, this must also be put into consideration in choosing location.
Target market: This will go a long way in informing you on the not just the type but also sizes of fishes you grow on the farm. Different markets with specific demand. For instance, the Northern and Eastern parts of Nigeria only buy fishes big sized fishes while its entirely opposite in the Western part of Nigeria. Therefore, having your target market from the onset informs what level of production you can achieve with your available resources.
Time and Security: Having time to monitor activities on the fish farm will determine about 70-88% of the success of the business. Most fish farm business particularly in Africa fails due to lack of time to properly monitor by the fish farmer/investor. Not having time is simply because we mostly do not see fish farming as a business on its own. This gives room for mismanagement and theft, which is why I included security here as a factor that must be put into consideration also. Firsthand experience has taught me without adequate time to monitor and security on the farm, the chance of breaking even is very slim in fish farming.
FISH FARMING IN NIGERIA
Aquaculture (fish farming) in Nigeria is a sub-sector Agriculture. It is currently still in the developmental stage from my experience. In my 10 years of practicing aquaculture in Nigeria and few West African countries like Cotonou, Togo and Ghana, I can confidently say aquaculture is still in its developmental stage. The key reason why growth in the aquaculture sub-sector is slow can be attributed mainly to lack of necessary support by the government. This explains why over 75% of aquaculture farmers still operate at a subsistence level. The remaining percentage is mostly private investors with huge amount of investment to put in the business. I started this business (Simwaaz Fisheries) in person in the year 2008 with fish seed (fingerlings) breeding and supply to different parts of the country, so I think I do know little that can be talked about fish farming in Nigeria.
Discussing further, fish farming in Nigeria is mainly carried out in earthen and concrete ponds depending on which suits your environment and purpose. Fish feed covers about 75% of any aquaculture investment, which happens to be one of the key hindrances to the supposed rapid growth we need in the agriculture sub-sector. Presently, we use both imported and locally manufactured fish feed in Nigeria .In the year 2016, there was a surge in the price of both imported and local fish feed brand which was a ripple effect of government policies in the country. By this, I mean foreign exchange to import both finished fish feed and raw materials (like fish meal, additives to manufacture local fish feed had to increase over 50%. Aquaculture in Nigeria is an industry given birth to without standardization, so there are no specified standard on how to go about fish farming in the country. Presently, fish farming is strongest in the South-Western part (Erinwe community, Ijebu, Ogun State) of Nigeria. However, practice has greatly increased in the Eastern and Northern part of the country. Fish species mainly cultured in Nigeria is the catfish (Clarias gariepinus) and now Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) is also gaining acceptance gradually, which is mostly cultured in cages (cage culture). Key part of our value addition is processing i.e. smoke catfish and tilapia.