Fish farming, also known as pisciculture, is fast becoming a viable business in Nigeria mainly due to the nutritional value of fish. Fish is becoming a stable source of protein, omega3, Vitamin D and Vitamin B2 for many Nigerian homes and the demand for different species is growing every day so much that more recreational parks are opening in all nooks and crannies of major cities just to meet the demand for fish delicacies. Also, many people in their early thirties and upwards are moving from consumption of red meat and switching to white meat and fi sh. The implication of this is that there is a huge demand for fish both now and in the future. On another level, since the ban on the importation of fish and the recent foreign exchange challenges in the country, farming fresh water fishes has become a substitute for the deep sea species that come frozen. No doubt, fish business, all over the world is today one of the fastest growing businesses with an estimated annual value of over $119.4bn. Having said all these, you can decide to start a fish farm for your family consumption and this can be done in your backyard with improvised ponds and small wells. Starting a fish for commercial production will require careful planning, understanding of the market and who your off takers will be as well as other risks associated with fish farming. What do you need to know before you start a fish farm?
Know the business. Start by understanding the business. First of all, know that there are different species of fish but the most popular ones farmed in commercial quantity in Nigeria are tilapia, catfish, croaker and prawns. Then study and farmiliarise yourself with how the business operates. You might have to take it a step further and engage people who are succeeding in the business already. An expert who has successfully managed fish farms for many years would be of immense help. But as a rule, you should not invest a dime until you have studied and understood all there is to know i.e. how the fishes feed and reproduce, their favourite habitats, common diseases that affect them and all. It might take you from 30 to 90 days to achieve this.
Write a business plan
Fish farming can be capital intensive, especially if you are planning to starting commercial quantity. Whether you are planning to take a bank loan or use your money, it is important that you invest in writing a business plan. A well-written business plan helps you prepare and execute your growth strategies properly. If you need to secure a credit facility from a bank or access a government agricultural fund, then you most certainly would need a well-written business plan. You can engage the services of an agricultural consultant or adviser to help in computing the figures.
Secure a piece of land
One of the first things you need to acquire when deciding to embark on fish farming is a piece of land. The land should be easily accessible so that you can reduce or minimise the inconvenience your potential customers will experience in trying to locate your farm to buy your produce. If you have space in the compound where you live, you may decide to start there. But be informed that this option comes with its own health hazards. If you can, it is always better to have it outside where you live.
Build a pond
The next thing is to build a pond for the fishes. Unless you are an engineer or a builder, you should engage the services of a professional to construct a pond for you. Having a properly constructed pond is critical for the happiness and survival of your fishes. You will also need a plumber to design an effective drainage system to allow dirty water flow out. Keeping your fishes in dirty water will kill them.
Get Constant water
Install an overhead tank for water storage. In places where digging of boreholes is possible, you should consider digging one to ensure that you never run out of water.