Smoked fish is a delicacy most people love. But you can make a lot of money from your passion! Yesterday we took a look at the fish farming business (click here if you missed it) and what it would entail. In this concluding part of the 2-part series, Mrs Ese Utomi tells us how to start a fish farm and make profit. Read on…
How To Start A Fish Farm And Make Profit!
Mrs CEO Naija: What are the biggest challenges with fish farming?
Mrs Ese Utomi: Well, every business has its own challenges. For fish farming, the farmer needs to identify a good source of fish feed especially in the first 2 months when the fingerlings are still small. I usually advise farmers to use the imported fish feed for the first 2 months because they have the right protein level and they float.
When I started this business, a 5kg bag of the foreign feed was N4, 800 but it has risen to N6, 000 because of devaluation. There are local manufacturers of feed too: UAC and Livestock, but they don’t have consistent supply for the 1-2 months fingerlings. A farmer can also decide to make the feed in-house, but the issue is it doesn’t float as well. Besides, If you really want to make a good formula, you have to do more work yourself- grinding, drying and the cost ends up almost the same as the imported one.
Another challenge is that the farmer needs to get a good stock of fish. Some breeds don’t grow well and lead to losses for the business. It is very difficult to differentiate a good breed from a bad breed just by looking at the fingerlings until about 1-2 months after purchase. Runts don’t grow well no matter what you feed them or how long you keep them. So you need to identify an honest hatchery owner. I usually ask for the ‘shooters’: these are the ones that grow faster than the rest. The fingerlings farmer can identify them and sells them at a premium to buyers.
The 3rd challenge is space and water source. You must use right water with the right PH. For fishes, you need relatively salty water. It is a NO-NO to use water treated with chlorine so a direct untreated borehole water source should work. Talk to an experienced fish farmer to counsel on these kind of details. I also do training for new fish farmers to help in the first 4-5 months of start up as every fish farm is unique- the farm type can be pond, concrete, or plastic. The pond design, location e.t.c
MCN: How do you select the fish farm design?
EU: Truth is I use all three types at my various locations. Some swear by the pond design, some by plastic and some by concrete. I’ll say, it’s all about the management and care. The pond has its own advantage because you don’t need to change the water as often, it is a natural situation and has natural habitats that the fish can feed on too. The plastic and concrete designs are great because it allows easy sorting of the fishes. However, the plastic has leakage issues many times. The concrete will work if the land is yours or on a long lease. Otherwise, the landlord can evict you and the cost of construction is wasted.
MCN: Lastly, how easy is it to sell and how do you sell consistently?
EU: At first, I was nervous and desperate to sell my fishes once they reached maturity. In fact, I was running out of cash for feeding. The buyers can recognize the seller’s panic and will play on your need to sell if you are not careful. The advice is to find the market early enough, so start creating awareness from about 3 months. Create awareness through friends, acquaintances; go to the supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, big open markets. Once your fishes are the right size, the market women will come to pack it. The demand is there. You can either sell it fresh or smoked.
This is the end of the Fish Farming series. Did you miss Part 1? Read up here. For Fish Farming training , please call Mrs Ese Utomi on 09093307715 directly.
MrsCEOnaija.com, a distinct female-centric blog, centers on women empowerment with the aim of building financially empowered females for more balanced homes and community.
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