Nigerians should maximise opportunities provided by aquaculture to expand their farming activities, Dr. Sadiq Joseph, an aquaculturist, has said.
Dr. Joseph, the Managing Director (MD) of Vision Global Farms, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that aquaculture presented profitable opportunities for smallholder farmers.
He expressed concern that only few farmers took advantage of the opportunity because of lack of the technical knowledge fish farming required and few hatcheries that supplied fish to small-scale farmers.
He said, “Our rivers are chocked up with a lot of opportunities, but we are missing them. By our backyards, there are lots of opportunities, but we are missing them. That little space you have beside your house is a big opportunity for you to explore and maximise whatever you think you are into, most especially organic farming, fish farming and poultry farming.”
How you can make use of your backyard?
In an interview with our Agric Editor, a fish farmer in Pegi area of Kuje Area Council of the FCT, Abdulazeez Ibrahim, said to begin a home-based fish farm, the farmer could dig a fishpond or get tanks or containers for indoor fish farming.
He said with N35,000, the farmer could get a tank and that he could also build a small concrete pond of 10ft by 4ft, 4ft deep, with less than N100,000.
Abdulazeez, who has been into fish farming for over five years, noted that the farmer must have constant water from a good source.
The next stage, according to him, is for the person to stock the ponds with juvenile catfish if he or she is going for catfish.
He said, “It is not advisable to start with fingerlings, because as a starter, they may be difficult to manage.
“The pond can take up to 400 juveniles, while the tank can take between 150 and 250; depending on the size.”
The farmer, who said at present, a juvenile sold for between N25 and N35, warned that over-stocking could affect the growth of the fish.
On feeding, he explained that, “2mm is suitable for the juveniles up to one month, and thereafter you move to 3mm for another two weeks and then 4mm for another one month. From there, the fish should be fed with 6mm up till table size.”
Mr. Abdulazeez added that each fish would at least consume 1kg of feed to get to table size, which means with 250 fishes, one would need 250kg of feed.
Mr. Abdulazeez said there were different types of infections that could attack the stock, including fin rot and bacterial diseases.
He explained that, “The sign of fin rot will show in the fin part of the fish, which is transferable to other fish. Farmers need to be observing their fish from time to time. It usually comes at the juvenile to jumbo stages.
“The bacterial infections will show in the reaction of the fish; like the movement.”
According to him, for fin rot, the farmer should buy tetracycline, mix it with salt and pour inside the pond for four to five hours, but that the farmer needed to reduce the quantity of the water in the pond or tank for the treatment to be effective, adding that if the symptoms persisted after three days, the farmer should repeat the process.
He further said for bacterial infection, the same tetracycline should be mixed with their feed for two days.
The farmer can harvest after four to five months by draining the water in the pond or tank for easy collection. However, Ibrahim said the farmer could harvest in two months for smoke-able size.
According to Dr. Joseph, there is an established market for fish everywhere in the country.
He said, “Last year, the US government made over $500bn from fish farming. We, in this part of the world, most especially Nigeria, have the best weather. The Thailand that brought this thing to us; we are better off in weather than them.
“In Thailand, in seven months their fishes are still below 1kg, but in seven months, we hit up to 2.5kg here; but we are not seizing the opportunity.
“This is an opportunity because we have better weather, better opportunity and better environment to grow these things and actually to maximise profit than them.
“We are lagging behind because we don’t take good advantage of opportunities.”