Why Fish Farming?July 26, 2020
Value Addition as Key Means of Surviving the Tough Aquaculture Terrain in NigeriaOctober 30, 2023
Also called fish farming, aquaculture is the controlled practice or process of cultivating fish and other aquatic organisms in environments, including tanks, ponds, or cages. Owing to its huge population and abundant water resources, Nigeria has a significant potential for the aquaculture business.
In this country, experts have recognized aquaculture as a viable solution to meet the increasing demand for fish protein in Nigeria owing to declining wild fish stocks as well as a growing population.
This subsector has witnessed substantial growth in recent years, and it has the potential to contribute to employment generation, food security, income diversification, and foreign exchange earnings in Africa’s largest economy.
In Nigeria, fish is a key part of the household diet and accounts for roughly 40% of the country’s protein intake (fish consumption — 13.3 kg per person per year), according to World Fish Center. Let’s discuss some key points to understand as regards aquaculture in Nigeria.
Fish Species to Consider
The aquaculture industry in Nigeria mainly focuses on the production of catfish, tilapia, and other freshwater species. Catfish farming is particularly popular because of a range of factors, such as availability of fingerlings, the ease of breeding, and market demand.
Over the years, the Nigerian government has designed and implemented various programs, policies, and incentives to support the aquaculture subsector, showing its commitment to developing the industry. With these initiatives, the government aims to provide access to credit facilities, technical support and training, and infrastructure development to fish farmers in the country.
Major Aquaculture Production Systems in Nigeria
Farmers in this country carry out aquaculture using different production systems, such as earthen ponds, floating cages, concrete tanks, and recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). Earthen ponds are the most common and cost-effective production system, while RAS allows for intensive production in limited spaces.
Market and Consumption
Nigeria has a significant domestic demand for fish, driven by population growth and changing dietary preferences. However, the country still relies heavily on fish imports to meet this demand. Developing the aquaculture subsector can reduce import dependence and enhance self-sufficiency in fish production.
Export Potential of Nigeria’s Aquaculture Subsector
Nigeria has the potential to become a major exporter of fish and fishery products. However, the subsector needs to address quality control, infrastructure, and value addition challenges to tap into the international market effectively.
Environmental Factors to Keep in Mind
Sustainable aquaculture practices are crucial to minimize environmental impacts. Proper waste management, efficient water use, and responsible use of chemicals and medications are essential to maintain the ecological balance and safeguard water resources.
There are various industry associations in the country for promoting the interests of fish farmers, providing a platform for knowledge sharing, and advocating favorable policies and regulations. Examples are the Catfish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFAN); Catfish and Allied Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFFAN), The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), and others.
Research and Training
Research institutions and universities in this country conduct studies and provide training programs to improve fish farming techniques, develop new fish breeds, and enhance disease management. These initiatives aim to promote sustainable aquaculture practices and address sector-specific challenges.
Challenges in the Nigerian Aquaculture Subsector
Despite the potential, the aquaculture subsector in Nigeria faces several challenges. You need to keep these challenges to navigate this industry successfully. Such challenges include inadequate access to quality fish feed, poor infrastructure, limited availability of good quality fingerlings, high production costs, inadequate extension services, and limited market access.
Aquaculture in Nigeria holds immense potential for contributing to food security, poverty reduction, and economic development.
With continued government support, investment in research and infrastructure, and the adoption of sustainable practices, the industry can thrive and play a significant role in Nigeria’s agricultural landscape. Fish is an essential part of the household diet of Nigerians, accounting for approximately 40% of the country’s protein intake.