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Jigna farm, where millions of catfish are produced

Jigna Farms, with an array of well-designed ponds, is one of the biggest fish farms in Abuja. With a capacity for half-a-million tonnes of table-sized…

Jigna Farms, with an array of well-designed ponds, is one of the biggest fish farms in Abuja.

With a capacity for half-a-million tonnes of table-sized fresh catfish every five months, the farm has the potential to bridge the gap between demand and supply of fresh fish in the FCT.

Engr Ad’Obe Obe, the pioneer ServiCom boss, started the farm 15 years ago.

The farmer, a retired journalist and one of the nation’s first-generation chemical engineers, named the farm after River Jigna, which flows over the land, and decided to anchor it entirely on fish farming—taking advantage of the river’s potential for providing all the fresh water needed for the fish farm.

With 42 water-recycling ponds, and two lakes, each with a capacity of over 200,000 fish, the farm has the potential to produce 1.5 million metric tonnes of catfish annually.

The farm also has a mini dam housing millions of local tilapias known for dedicating most of their energy to breeding. This, according to the farmer, is however, meant to serve two purposes – personal consumption and to test the water that reaches the catfish. “If the tilapia is okay, then the water that is reaching the catfish is okay.”

Upon starting the farm, he was unable to produce the required capacity for the farm because the N500 million he sought and got from the CBN was trapped in a commercial bank.

“When I finish constructing the ponds, I needed a capital injection to get into full production, and coincidentally, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was offering what it called Commercial Agric Credit Scheme. So that was my chance and I took it. With this facility, I can go into full production.

“So I applied for the Commercial Agric Credit Scheme by submitting my application through a commercial bank. They took my application to CBN and CBN granted them the money, but they failed to forward it to me,” he said.

Engr Obe stressed that though the bank called to inform him that the money had arrived, all effort to get the bank to release it to him failed as the bank told him his collateral was inadequate even after he met every requirement set at the initial stage of the application.

The fish farmer said that set him back by at least five years. “Having recovered mentally and financially, from the disaster of the Commercial Agric Credit Scheme and having regained my confidence of even leaving Nigeria – I lived most of my life in Europe for 45 years, in fact my first decision was to abandon the project and go back to Europe. But as you can see from the structures here, it would not be easy to abandon it go back again.

“In any case, this is my homeland, but it has been a very painful sense of recovery from what happened. But now, our enthusiasm has returned,” he stated.

The farmer also suffered heavy losses due to flooding last year, but regarding this year, he said, “We have found what we believed is the solution to the flooding. So this season, we are hoping to have full stock when the rain comes,” he said.

As for the market, he said there was not enough fish to meet the demand of Abuja alone, noting that at the peak of demand, about 10  to 15  trailers come to Abuja every day from Ibadan to convey tonnes of table-sized fresh fish.