The unabated increase in the prices of fish feeds is taking its tolls on fish farming business in the country.
Many local farmers said the situation was gradually becoming unbearable and may force more of them out of business any moment from now.
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A market survey has shown that 2 mm, 3mm and 4mm of a 15kg bag of fish feed costs between N9,000 and N10,000, depending on the brand.
This is against N5,000 and N6,000 it was sold same time last year.
Already, some of the farmers have hinted at their decision to shut down fish production in order to boost produce profitability and regulate their market.
According to John Joseph, a fish farmer in the outskirts of Abuja, farmers hardly break even because of the price of the feeds.
“It is just too crazy. Many of us are packing up because of this issue, definitely something must be done,’’ he said.
Mr Okon Amah, a fish farmer in Akwa Ibom State, lamented how the increasing price of fish feed had grossly increased their cost of production.
According to him, the farmers in other states in the country will join their Oyo State counterparts, who have already begun the protest to regulate the prices of produce instead of allowing buyers to determine them.
“Local fish farmers are threatening to go on a nationwide strike because of poor fish price due to increases in the cost of feed.
“This growing increase in the cost of fish feed is affecting the profitability and productivity of our local fish farmers, hence the need for the strike.
“Other states like Lagos and Delta states are gearing up to join them in order to boost profitability as the cost of fish feed keeps increasing,’’ Amah told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.
He said buyers seemed to have a stronger voice in determining fish prices; hence fish farmers need to come together with one voice to determine the price.
On his part, Chukwunyere Ekeledo of Magnicial Farms, Owerri, Imo State, noted that the farmers were planning a protest strike because of the incessant increases in the price of fish feed.
“Every week, we have observed increases in the price of fish feed, so we farmers also want to increase the prices of fish.
“We are not enjoying the profit or business aspect of fish farming; we just concentrated on production so far, but our buyers (middlemen) have built a formidable market for themselves.
“Local fish farmers and their middlemen need to meet and reach an understanding in determining the prices of fish from farms.
“Although we may incur some extra cost if we embark on the protest because of the continuous feeding of our fish without sale, it is a risk we need to take.
“The strike is a sacrifice we are making, so everybody will be carried along because if only one side of the value-chain is happy with sales and the other is not, the aquaculture sector will not grow.
“Whether the middlemen or consumers will be able to accept this price increment is another issue. It is a very pathetic situation for local fish farmers presently,” Ekeledo said.
Mr Lai Mustapha, a fish farmer in Lagos State, said the strike was a welcome idea as it would work in fish farmers’ favour.
“The proposed protest strike of local fish farmers is a welcome idea. It will help us determine the price of our produce. However, only farmers in Oyo State have embarked on the strike.
“I encourage farmers to speak with one voice and make sacrifices that will help boost our trade. Fish farmers in other states should take a cue from their counterparts in Oyo State,’’ he said.