A Nigerian Agricultural Entrepreneur, Adedamola Osinuga disclosed to 774ngr, in an exclusive interview, the challenges his business is facing as a result of different government regulations in a business environment he referred to as unfavorable.
Below is an extract from the interview.
Can we meet you?
My name is Adedamola Osinuga. I am an Agricultural Entrepreneur.
How long have you been into the fish farming business?
Primus Anchor Farms was established 5years ago, but we’ve been in the business since 2010.
Why fish farming for you?
I have a great passion for Agriculture. Fish farming is an area where I could showcase my entrepreneurial skills
If you weren’t into fish farming, what will you be doing?
I certainly would be an Engineer.
How long does it take for the fish to grow for marketable size?
It depends on the size you are pushing into the market. Starting from 3-7months
How do you manage pests and disease?
Managing pests, covering of fish pond to curb birds from feeding on the fish can serve a lasting solution. And in terms of diseases, sanitizing the pond before stocking with fish, and ensuring that oxygen is never exhausted inside the water the fish survive in.
What are the challenges of being a fish farmer in Nigeria?
There are various challenges that can affect fish farming, let’s take for instance INFLATION; I happen to have been in the business when fuel pump price was NGN97 and $1 rate at about NGN140, back then, fish farmers can easily cut cost by using our local raw materials to pellet fish feed, I must say, we were flourishing. Since the increase in fuel pump price and the rapid growth of the Dollar rate against Naira, production cost increased outrageously. Quite a number of fish farmers could not meet the production cost and had to quit or underproduce.
Another challenge is the inadequate power supply, as we all know that this factor affects many businesses, but in the case of fish production, it can be worse because water inflow into the pond has to be regular in order to keep the fish healthy and alive and to avoid disease breakout.
Another challenge is the unforeseen disasters like Covid-19. During this period, almost every commodity in the country increase in price, except for catfish. All target markets were on lockdown, this made supply higher than demand, so the price crashed and this led to many fish farmers harvesting on loss.
Another challenge is financing. fish farming is a very capital intensive business, and its turn over is not forthcoming until after 3-7months of breeding. It is ideal that fish farmers have drawn their budget out before starting a breeding course so as to avoid premature harvesting that may lead to a loss.
There are so many more…
What are the risks of starting a fish farm?
Every business has its risks, No good business person would venture into what they have zero knowledge about. As an experienced fish farmer, I will say the risk of starting fish farming is minimal.
How do you manage these risks?
As minimal as the risks are, to start fish farming, one needs to consult a professional for appropriate guidelines.
Have you ever considered taking a loan to grow your business?
On several occasions, I have tried to get a loan for expansion but to no avail. Bank loans are not easily accessible for this form of business because of the poor level of monthly turnover, unlike other businesses/trades. Also, many young Nigerians who want to be engaged in catfish farming may not be able to secure commercial bank loans due to stringent conditions attached to them. The issue of collateral security, most especially certificate of occupancy, attached to securing commercial bank loans has not helped the situation.
What are the basic requirements for fish farming?
The most basic and vital requirements are knowledge of fish farming and operational facility.
Which species are grown in our country?
Apart from culturing in the wild, the most popular specie grown in Nigeria and Africa at large is the Catfish.
What’s your greatest accomplishment as a fish farmer?
Well, my initial goals are yet to be met. But I would say my greatest accomplishment as a fish farmer is being an SME working hard to impact positivity and greatness to the Nigerian economy.
Have you at any point in time thought about quitting fish farming?
Like I said earlier, I have a great passion for Agriculture, which is why I have invested 10years of my life into fish farming. Quitting is not an option, I have goals that must be met.
Do you think the Nigerian government has been supportive of the aquaculture sector?
I’m not in the best position to answer correctly this question because I have never benefited from the federal government.
Are there any regulations for fish farmers as a body?
There is an association called catfish farmers association of Nigeria (CAFAN) which I’m working towards to be a member maybe I can impact the fact this body needs to regulate and mandate a standard price for catfish sales for fish farmers to earn a good margin
How much capital is required for fish farming?
It depends on how much you want to invest.. After acquiring necessary facilities and equipment such as ponds, borehole, and a standby generator. The cost price to feed a catfish per kilogram is estimated to be NGN430 inclusive of overhead and maintenance.
How do you meet your customers’ target?
There are various ready-made customers like I said earlier in one of my answers, breeding duration starts from 3-7month, the 3month duration is called Melange, and from 4months to 7months is called Table size. Now, it depends on the farmer which market he/she wants to supply.
What’s your most difficult experience while starting up as a fish farmer?
My most difficult experience was my first 7 months into a business where electricity supply wasn’t available for 4months because the transformer distributing electricity in the community where I operate packed up. It was a breathe taking experience, I haven’t recovered from the heavy loss the situation caused.
Do you recall any embarrassing moment with a customer? If yes, how did you handle it?
Yes, the same period situation of electricity supply failed in 4months, in between, I had to sell off all my stock because I was recording a high mortality rate daily, they were not healthy, I could not operate my facility without national electricity. On the arrival of my customers, seeing the current health situation of the fish, they almost could not buy, they were seriously disappointed with the outcome of my stock at that time.
I had to persuade them and reduce the price for them so they could buy by all means.
Do you have any advice for people are looking to start a fish farming business too?
My advice for people looking to start fish farming is, they must consult a professional and experienced fish farmer so as to escape the risks and challenges attached to the business.