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Starting and Managing a Profitable Catfish Farming Business in Nigeria

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Catfish Farming Business

By Sodeinde Temidayo David

I’m sure you know that catfish farming in Nigeria has become one of the most commonly practised fish farming businesses, with a lot of back benefits. The high demand and consumption of fish have made the business very profitable if well-managed.

Catfish farming has become one of the fastest-growing areas of animal food production. Gone were the days when the only means of getting fish was by catching it in the local rivers, ponds or from fishermen. About half of the fish consumed in Nigeria are now raised in artificial environments.

If you are looking forward and aspiring to start a catfish farming business of your own, you have come to the right post. This article will provide you with not just starting the business, but also give you a guide to managing the business to maximise profit and answer the questions you have in mind.

Information in this publication was gathered from Business Post researchers, personal experiences and resources from fish farmers and experts in the field and I have endeavoured to make this writing very detailed. You might just want to keep away everything that might distract you for now.

What You Need To Know Before Venturing into the Business

Before you venture into catfish farming, take note that this business is broad, and like every other business, one needs to take risks. Catfish farming comes in different specialisations which are subdivided as businesses on their own. These include feed production, hatching, growing production to targeted sizes, marketing and distribution. This also comes with the responsibility to test water PH, feed the fishes, sorting and grading of the fishes into different sizes, and also include other jobs and monitoring to bolster the growth of production.

This might seem like something difficult to comprehend, especially when you are not familiar with fish farming. It’s just that knowing and applying the right cultural practices in fish farming is very essential for success.

There is more to catfish farming than purchasing fingerlings, stocking them in a tank, and feeding them till they get to the size for sale. Well, those are just the basic stuff and I assure you that when you relax and read in calmness, you will discover all that it takes to establish, manage and make profit in a catfish farming.

What You Should Consider Before Investing

Do you have the qualities and attitude of an entrepreneur? Since farming is a type of self-employment, before you make any investment in the business, the first consideration should be your interest. This might come with other attributes like dedication, time commitment and motivation.

Starting a catfish farming business requires effort, dedication, and most importantly passion, and it is the interest of an entrepreneur that will determine whatever mission and vision for the business.

If you have an interest and you think you are ready for fish farming, make sure you know what you are about to venture into.

To start rearing catfish with an aim for success, one would have to consider the size of the farm, size of production, capital, intended number of stock, location, pond, market, species of fish, including water availability and legal issues (tax, regulatory agencies, etc).

When a person has little or no knowledge in fish farming and is ready to put in all for it, the business also has a way of educating about itself in a hard manner. Acquiring knowledge will not be a problem if you are still reading this, and I also recommend additional training (you should try working on a farm even if it would be for free just to gather experience) no one can take away your knowledge.

The good news is that one can do other businesses and still run a successful fish farm. Even civil and public servants can venture into fish farming, a business that does not bridge the public service rule.

Basic Requirements to Start a Catfish Farm

Just like every other business, there are requirements needed to start a catfish farm which depends on the type of scale in target based on capital.

To start and run a fish farm is not as difficult as it is when you have this knowledge. Establishing a farm for success varies on the size and vision of the entrepreneur. It may be small scale, medium scale, or large scale.

A small scale can contain a maximum of 50,000 pieces of the startup sizes, a medium will take between 50,000 and 100,000 pieces and anything more than that means that is a large scale establishment.

Fish farming is easy to carry out as compared to other complicated modes of farming. The only thing someone need is a piece of land and a constant source of water. But before this, you will have to have a blueprint of your startup, which should be based on your capital. Knowing the amount on hand, then you can manage expenses for the basic requirements.

Securing a piece of land is the first set towards having a fish farm, and the great advantage of this is that the land does not need any special treatment and clearing as long as it is plain terrain. This also includes establishment in any good location, it could even be in an estate since fish doesn’t cause any environmental disturbance but this still depends on an agreement with the neighbours.

All you have to do is just look for a land where you can get it cheap and buy, and the size depends on the capacity you wants to manage, the bigger the space, the more fish you can rear, and also decides the amount of return you should expect. I recommend half plot if it would be an average fish farm.

After securing land, a pond is needed for the rearing of the fish and this is where you will need experts, just for the construction and plumbing works! You can get a specification from what you see on other farms and the expert will give his advice and knowledge. This is where things get tricky because it’s the quality of a pond that determines a long term fish farming business.

So, you can’t just use any regular plumber or construction engineers, rather get one specialized in this business. You don’t want to start the business to begin to see your fishes on the ground or add to the numbers in the ocean.

There are different kinds of ponds system for catfish farming, which also varies in different designs. However, the most common types used in Nigeria and easy to manage are plastic ponds, tarpaulin ponds, concrete ponds, and earthen ponds.

Choosing a pond system might require one to seek expert advice when the individual is not familiar with the system, as there are other factors needed to be considered based on the focused phase of production.

In absence of a sizeable piece of land for big ponds, tanks and drums can be used for a small startup. One might as well use old ponds as long as it is properly washed and fumigated.

Setting up the ponds is not difficult, but one must ensure a proper drainage system, this is where the plumbing work has to be done and monitored properly.

This includes having a water source and channel inlets to the ponds, as the adequate water supply is very vital for a fish farm and lack of it may result in a tragedy because water needs to be changed at regular intervals. Naturally, available sources of water such as wells, boreholes and river water are the most suitable. Other sources like rainwater and tap water from the chemically treated source are not recommended for the rearing of fish.

You will also need to install an overhead tank, which will serve as a water reservoir from which water is supplied to the ponds. This has to be through a good plumbing system for convenient water flow and supply in the farm.

Cost of Starting a Catfish Farming Business

Setting up a fish farm requires more careful planning and much capital input. To meet all the basic requirements to start a small scale fish farm, this can cost between N500,000 and N4 million, depending on the land cost, type of pond, pond size, number of stock, type of production, other equipment and facilities.

Staring with a plastic pond is cheaper as all you have to do is to buy the already made pond and set it up with good plumbing and waterworks. Other types of ponds that require construction may require a range amount of N200,000 to N500,000, with plumbing expenses.

A good water source like the borehole should cost nothing less than N300,000, depending on the location and the other costs are managing and feeding expenses, which can cost up to N1 million.

A big farm would require extra expense on employees and other workers. Also, since we are in a world of technology, one might want to spend more on technology equipment, website and software to grow the business, doing specific programs like payroll, social media management.

Starting the Business

After having the land, pond, an overhead tank and a good water channel, then you are ready to stock and become a big-time fish farmer. All you just have to do is to get your startup size of a good species, this could be Fries (newly hatched fish), fingerlings (Catfish aged 0-4 weeks) or Juveniles (Catfish aged 4-8 weeks) and could be got from another farm that specializes in supplying them, and make sure your fishes are from a healthy source.

In Nigeria, commonly grown catfish species include Clarias gariepinus, Heterobranchus bidorsalis, and a hybrid of Clarias and Heterobranchus (Heteroclarias). These breeds are the best to rear for growing if properly managed because they have fast-growth, are prone to disease and adapt to our environment. But you just have to make sure that your stock won’t be too crowded for the available space.

Above all, you will need to have a business plan and marketing strategy. A good strategy might require you to join an association of fish farmers, as it unlocks opportunities of getting buyers, suppliers, workforce, production monitoring, advice and support. Joining a good association can also make you make access government support and grants for fish farmers.

For beginners just starting the business, I recommend the stock of Juveniles, rather than Fingerlings, for better management and because they are less sensitive to the water PH.

Managing the Business

Managing a fish farm is the main business and this would require all available resources, time and labour. It is the proper management of the farm that will determine the number of output and the success of the production.

Managing a fish farm starts from pond management, how secure the pond is and how vulnerable it is to pests and diseases. When starting the business with a new pond, ensure that the pond chemicals are neutralised to protect the health and growth of fishes. This concerns the users of tarpaulin or plastic ponds.

The safest way to ensure that a pond will cause no harm is to wash the pond with salt and fill it with water for five days before stocking in the pond. This can also boost water quality. For an earthen pond user, applying fertilizer after constructing the pond will make the soil fertile. If the soil of your pond is not fertile, then it will hamper the health and proper growth of fish.

Also, make sure there is no hole in the pond and that it is strong enough not to fall apart. A good water flow direction will also help a pond lasts longer. There should be a downward slope direction to the outlet.

Being assured that the pond is eligible and safe for use, water quality has to be monitored and if not properly managed, it could lead to a disaster. Water management is very important in a fish farming business, as fishes live, breathe, feed, grow, and excrete wastes in the water, and are, therefore, totally susceptible to changes in water quality. For fish to maintain an optimum level of health, avoid stress or disease then the water quality of the water must be monitored and controlled, as a fish life is dependent on the water it lives in for all needs.

Catfish become stressed when key water quality parameters such as temperature, pH, alkalinity, hardness nitrogenous waste, dissolved oxygen and salinity are not kept with specified thresholds.

Knowing the quality of your water source is very important and could be tested with water testing kits like the water pH meter.

The measure of the alkalinity or acidity of water is expressed by its pH value. The pH value ranges from 0 to 14, with pH 7 indicating that the water is neutral, while a value smaller than 7 indicate acidity and a value greater than 7 notes alkalinity. Fish production can be greatly affected by excessively low or high pH.

Young age fishes like the fries, fingerlings and juveniles are more sensitive than adults. Waters ranging in pH from 6.5 to 8.5 at sunrise are generally the most suitable for growing fish, and extreme pH values can even kill your fish. Most cultured fish will die in waters with pH below 4.5 and 10 or above.

The key is to keep soil pH at 6.5 or above, which will usually maintain water pH, hardness, and alkalinity at desirable levels.

Pond water with unfavourable PH for fish production can be corrected by the use of water-soluble fertiliser which will ensure that your water pH and acidity are within acceptable limits and a necessary part of managing the alkalinity, hardness, and pH of the water.

If the pH is below 6.5 at sunrise, proving that it is acidic, then you will have to use lime and alkaline fertilisers that do not cause hardness problems in treated water, like the soda ash (sodium carbonate) and sodium hydroxide which would raise the pH of water when injected into a water system.

Note that this is always done with caution and should have a measurement according to the quantity of the water and the reactions of the fish should be monitored. Ammonium hydroxide, calcium hydroxide (lime) or magnesium hydroxide can also be used. To be on the safe side, I recommend sodium bicarbonate because it is not harsh on fish.

If the pH is above 8.5 at sunrise, showing that it is too alkaline, you can lower the pH with the use of acid fertilisers like phosphoric acid, hydrochloric acid (HCI), nitric acid or carbon dioxide can be used, in addition to sulfuric.

To run a profitable fish farm, you should be able to properly manage the feeding of fish. Catfish eat two times a day, morning and evening and water would have to be changed regularly (averagely once in two days) since feeding would lead to excretion and it is risky for catfish to live in unchanged water.

You should also adopt sorting and grading of fishes, as this act of separating fishes into categories of their various physical growth will create more space and uniformity. For this, you will need a labour force.

The dynamic aspect about fish is that the same fish of the same age, birth origin, feed and same pond may not grow at the same rate. One might be very big while the other very small. This is why sorting is important, to separate big fish from the small fish and put them into separate ponds. If not done, the bigger fish may eat the smaller fish or prevent them from eating well.

Fish farms are easy to maintain as long as the fish are fed good nutritional feed and you make sure the ponds are secured, the farmer is assured of a good harvest.

You should monitor the health of your fishes and the fish pond should be protected from predators. Daily scouting should be done and suspected fishes should be isolated from the pond to avoid spreading diseases all over the pond.

Fish diseases can be treated by using salt, potassium permanganate solution, chemicals, and drugs for veterinary uses. Above all, prevention is better than treatment.

If you are successful in managing the business, then you could as well mix things up and venture into another phase of production.

Knowing the Phases of Production

After stocking your preferred number of fingerlings, the way you manage it will determine the phase of products suitable for you, but this could also be by choice. Different phases of catfish production vary according to size.

Catfish becomes ready for sale when it has an average weight size of 300 to 400 grams. This is called the mélange production, the raising of catfish from fingerlings to three months to meet the size for those that smoke and sell.

Table Size Production is the raising of catfish from fingerlings to an average weight size of 500 to 700 grams, usually from 4 to 5 months from fingerlings.

This follows the grow-out stage, an average size of 1kg upward. At this stage, the fishes are in their bigger sizes and are at least six months old.

Broodstock Production is an exclusive part of the business, as it is the raising of catfish for the specific purpose of becoming a parent stock for the hatchery. They are usually raised for over a year.

Bottom-line

The catfish market is readily available both locally and internationally. Major urban centres in Nigeria are readily available markets for fish. For large-scale fish farmers, the international market is available. The fish market is growing, and Nigeria has had to import fish from China because the demand exceeds the supply and this has also made us witness Chinese farmers coming to Nigeria for large scale catfish production.

The government in recent years have been giving technical support to fish farmers. Being an agricultural sector that has not been fully utilized, the Nigerian government is also committed to making sure that more Nigerians take to the rearing of fish for both small scale and commercial use.

The good news is that there is still more room for growth and investing in this sector. The sector is still growing. Catfish farmers could easily combine it with other fish species.

Guide on How to Establish Barbing Salon Business in Nigeria

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Economy

NGX Rises 0.02% as Interim Dividend Hunters Return

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interim dividend

By Dipo Olowookere

The return of interim dividend hunters to the market further pushed the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited higher by 0.02 per cent at the close of transactions on Friday.

It was the first trading session of the new month of July 2022 and investors are expecting half-year results of companies on the exchange, especially those in the banking space, the tier-1 specifically, which usually declare interim dividends.

Business Post observed that there were buying interests in Access Holdings and Zenith Bank, though GTCO and UBA came under selling pressure, which depleted their share prices.

But when the market closed for the session, the All-Share Index (ASI) was higher by 12.08 points as it ended at 51,829.67 points compared with the previous day’s 51,817.59 points.

In the same vein, the total value of equities on the platform increased by N7 billion to N27.942 trillion from the N27.935 trillion it closed a day earlier.

The investor sentiment remained positive as there were 16 depreciating stocks and 20 appreciating stocks led by The Initiates, which rose by 10.00 per cent to 44 Kobo. Cutix expanded by 9.78 per cent to N2.47, Linkage Assurance moved higher by 9.62 per cent to 57 Kobo, John Holt grew by 9.33 per cent to 82 Kobo, while Caverton chalked up 8.82 per cent to sell for N1.11.

On the flip side, Courteville lost 7.84 per cent to trade at 47 Kobo, NAHCO fell by 5.88 per cent to N8.00, Cadbury Nigeria went down by 5.51 per cent to N16.30, Neimeth declined by 3.87 per cent to N1.49, while UPDC went down by 3.74 per cent to N1.03.

The market was relatively quiet yesterday as investors only transacted 127.0 million shares worth N1.7 billion in 3,718 deals as against the 223.1 million shares worth N3.9 billion transacted in 4,213 deals on Thursday, indicating a decline in the trading volume, value and number of deals by 43.06 per cent, 55.93 per cent and 11.75 per cent respectively.

GTCO was the busiest stock as it traded 23.5 million units valued at N480.3 million, UBA sold 22.2 million units for N165.6 million, Sterling Bank exchanged 7.4 million units worth N11.1 million, Oando transacted 7.3 million units worth N40.1 million, while FBN Holdings traded 6.0 million units valued at N67.5 million.

During the session, the insurance space grew by 1.23 per cent, the banking ecosystem expanded by 0.36 per cent, the industrial goods sector appreciated by 0.04 per cent, while the energy and the consumer goods counters depreciated by 0.39 per cent and 0.01 per cent.

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Economy

Supply Disruptions from Libya, Norway Lift Oil by 2%

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Libyan Oil Production

By Adedapo Adesanya

Supply disruptions from Libya and Norway pushed the prices of crude oil higher by about 2 per cent on Friday, with the Brent rising by $2.71 or 2.5 per cent to $111.74 a barrel and the United States West Texas Intermediate growing by $2.81 or 2.7 per cent to $108.57 a barrel.

Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) declared force majeure on crude exports from its oil terminals amid continued blockades of production and ports, which have severely crippled the country’s exports.

The force majeure comes after weeks of protests and closures amid the new rift in Libya’s political class over who should be governing the country.

Earlier in the week, NOC said it was considering declaring force majeure within 72 hours unless production and shipment of oil resume in the Gulf of Sirte, which hosts the oil export terminals of Zueitina, Brega, Ras Lanuf, and Es Sider.

The state oil body said that production has seen a sharp decline, with daily exports ranging between 365,000 and 409,000 barrels per day, a decrease of 865,000 barrels per day compared with production in normal circumstances.

In Norway, a planned strike among oil and gas workers on July 5 could cut the country’s overall petroleum output by around 8 per cent or around 320,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day unless a last-minute agreement is found over wage demands.

Also, low crude and fuel supplies supported the oil market even as the US Dollar, which typically has an inverse relationship with crude, rose.

Meanwhile, Ecuador’s government and indigenous groups’ leaders have reached an agreement to end more than two weeks of protests which had led to the shut-in of more than half of the country’s pre-crisis 500,000 barrels per day oil output.

On Thursday, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+) agreed to stick to its output strategy after two days of meetings. However, the producer club avoided discussing policy from September onwards.

Previously, OPEC+ decided to increase output each month by 648,000 barrels per day in July and August, up from a previous plan to add 432,000 barrels per day every month.

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Economy

The Importance of Financing a Sustainable Future

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Sustainable Energy Project

By Sunil Kaushal

While climate change may have taken a back seat in a news cycle dominated by COVID-19, war and the cost-of-living crisis, the risks and threats associated with our warming planet remain the biggest long-term threat to our combined economic future.

Banks and financial institutions will be critical to managing that risk this includes financing of sustainable infrastructure, supporting transition and investing in green innovation. In fact, the banking industry has a responsibility to bridge top-down and bottom-up approaches to net-zero and help the public and private sectors realise the vast opportunities the energy transition and the move to sustainable infrastructure promises.

We can do that by providing capital to finance the investment in renewables, climate adaptation technologies and the transition to a ‘circular economy’ which encourages sustainable use of resources.

According to EY, financial institutions recognise that the transition to net zero will involve more than investments and underwriting for “green” assets and businesses such as renewables and electric vehicles. To achieve net zero across the whole economy, legacy carbon-intensive assets and companies will require financing to help them transition to a cleaner future.

For businesses, this means a fundamental change to operations, and that, in turn, requires capital. Insurers, lenders and investors will play a crucial role in making that capital available and in incentivising and supporting their clients and investees as they make their transitions.1

While stimulating growth through investment in roads, buildings and power supplies isn’t a new strategy, now it offers an opportunity to redefine the traditional playbook and focus on investing and financing sustainability for the longer term.

Creating sustainable and climate-friendly infrastructure will, however, require finance that is fit for the future. There is a growing concern, for example, around stranded asset risk – particularly for long-term investments such as infrastructure. Infrastructure projects need to consider risks 10 years and beyond into the future, many of which may not be immediately apparent. These risks include rising sea levels, increasing temperatures, drought, and coastal erosion. There are also financial and economic risks associated with making investments outside an ESG framework, this includes changes to regulatory settings that may disadvantage or penalise these investments.

Projects that are climate adapted from the outset reduce some of these risks and are more likely to stand the test of time, so banks will need to take into account the potential climate risks over the lifespan of the project to ensure resilience and protect investments.

Sustainable infrastructure projects, however, are traditionally more difficult to make bankable. With a bit of thinking, though, there are usually profitable solutions. For example, in a renewable energy plant, you have clear cash flows linked to the price of generated energy or for an energy efficiency improvement project, you have energy savings which can be translated into cost savings, and they can repay the financing.

At Standard Chartered, we are committed to playing our part in supporting sustainable projects in the region. We take a firm stand in accelerating to net zero by helping emerging markets in our footprint reduce carbon emissions as fast as possible and without slowing development, putting the world on a sustainable path to net zero by 2050.

Sustainability has long been a core part of our strategy, and we have committed USD40 billion of project financing services for sustainable infrastructure and USD35 billion of services to renewables and clean-tech projects by the end of 2024. We have also committed to catalysing $300 billion in sustainable investments by 2030. The projects we finance will trade and growth and contribute to a better quality of life through sustainable development.

The need for action from finance providers is to not only decarbonise their own balance sheets but also to help businesses in the real economy move towards a sustainable future. A successful net-zero transition must be just, leaving no nation, region or community behind and, despite the hurdles, action needs to be swift. To meet the 2050 goal, we must act now, and we must act together: companies, consumers, governments, regulators and the finance industry must collaborate to develop sustainable solutions, technologies and infrastructure.

Sunil Kaushal is the CEO of Standard Chartered Africa and Middle East (AME)

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