An Easy Approach to Begin Fish Farming Business in Africa

An Easy Approach to Begin Fish Farming Business in Africa: Fish Farming business does not require huge capital to startup. In fact, if you have low capital with you, and wish to begin a farming business, Fish Farming Business is the way forward. And you have stumbled on the right article to take you there.

The fish farming business is an easy, lucrative, and less time-consuming venture.
Easy because it doesn’t require technical skills in feed mixture and cumbersome sanitation.

Lucrative because you can break even in less than two years if good management practices are employed. Less time-consuming because you can combine the business with a circular job or other businesses.

One major complaint that people have about fishery business is marketing. But there’s enough market to accommodate any number of fish raised if you do your research well. In this article, we discussed how to set up your fish farming business from setup to marketing.

Setting Up Your Fish Farming Business

We discussed how to start your fish farming business, also called pisciculture in the following heading:

  • Pond preparation (housing)
  • Procurement (stocking)
  • Feeding
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Conclusion

Pond preparation

Before you start stocking, you need a place to house your fish. Because fish require water, access to water is the priority. Therefore, you will need a borehole or other source of water supply. You will also ensure that the ponds have a sufficient water supply at all times.

In the fish farming business, you can use any of the following kinds of ponds to house your fish.

  1. Concrete pond: This requires the use of blocks to construct ponds. The ponds may have about 4 block coaches above ground level. The size depends on the number of fish you want to stock in each pond. For effective management, a pond of about 10x5x4 feet can stock about 500 – 1000 catfish. After construction, you can decide to plaster the floor and walls or use tiles. Remember to ensure that there is a free flow of water in and out of the pond.
  2. Plastic pond: This is the use of plastic tanks as a production unit for stocking and rearing fish. Some plastic tanks that are not in use can be converted to a pond. This can reduce the cost of constructing a pond. In an actual sense, buying plastic tanks and converting them to ponds can be more expensive. Also, you use plastic tanks when you want to stock smaller units of fish, say, 50 – 100.
  3. Mobile pond: The use of mobile ponds has been growing in fish production. This is because it gives you flexibility in choosing the location of your fish farm at any time. Mobile fish ponds can be constructed by using tarpaulin of various sizes and shapes. The most popular is the mobile pond with galvanized iron. The cost of a 10x5x4 meters mobile fish pond is about ninety-five thousand naira (N95,000). This is relatively cheaper compared to the cost of constructing a concrete pond. Because you can stock between 1000 – 1500 fish in the pond. There are mobile ponds of about N50,000 which can stock between 600 – 1000 catfish.
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Procurement and stocking

The number of fish you will stock on your farm depends on the size and number of ponds you have. Also, it depends on the capital available to you. Stocking[1] for fish farming business can be done in two ways:

  1. Batch stocking: In batch stocking, you raise your fish for a given period and sell them off. Usually, it takes between 5 – 6 months for fish to mature to the table size. If you decide to stock at once and manage till maturity, then you are doing batch stocking.

One advantage of batch stocking is that it reduces paperwork, especially, financial record keeping. Also, you may not need to employ anyone depending on the number of fish you need to stock. Batch stocking will give you time to do other things.

One disadvantage of batch stocking is getting enough market to sell off your fish at maturity. Although this depends on the number of fish you are stocking. This is therefore not a good method for an effective fish farming business. Especially, when you have customers you service monthly.

  1. Regular stocking: This is a system of raising fish regularly. If you have customers that require a regular supply of fish, you will need this method to keep up with them. In this method, you are required to procure and stockfish monthly. Using this method, you will have a production lag time of 5 – 6 months. After the initial lag, you will have fish for sale regularly.

An advantage of this method is that there is a market at all times to meet the demands of customers. Also, there will be a consistent flow of cash monthly.

One disadvantage of this method is that it increases paperwork. Also, you will need employees to assist you in managing the farm, depending on the size of the farm.

After determining your choice of stocking, find out around your environment where to purchase fingerling or juvenile. Ask around, you will get an answer. If you are within the Umuahia area, you can contact us.

It is advisable to procure juvenile fish rather than fingerling because they guarantee a lower mortality rate. Presently, you can purchase juvenile fish between N25 and N30. Ensure that you have a written agreement with the seller before payment. Let him assure you that the fish will be in good condition and is not affected by the disease.

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Let the seller transport the fish to your farm. Usually, fish can be transported in plastic bags containing oxygen. Ensure that the fish undergo less stress as it may affect them when stocked.

When stocking the fish, float the bags in the pond’s water. This will allow the fish to acclimatize to the current environmental temperature. Then release the fish after both temperatures are equaled.

Feeding

After the fish has acclimatized, you will need to start feeding the fish. The kind of feed depends on the size of the fish. If you stocked fingerlings, you may need to start with a 1mm feed. But we usually begin with 2mm because we stock juveniles.

For proper growth, feed them morning, afternoon, and night. However, if you have less time, feed them twice a day – morning and evening. Feed them by gradually spreading the feed in the pond. Once they are fed up, the rush for food will reduce.

The table below summarizes the monthly feeding for your fish in pisciculture.

Month Feed Category Appr. Quantity in 15kg bags for 1000 fish Appr. Cost per bag (N)
Month 1 2mm 1 8500
Month 2 3mm 4 8500
Month 3 4mm 7 7500
Month 4 5mm 13 7500
Month 5* 6mm 16 6500
Month 6 6mm 16 6500

Management

This includes routine management of your fish from stocking till they reach the majority. Fish management includes feeding, changing water, and sorting of the fish. Although some people include medication and testing of the acidity and temperature of the water.

Good fish management will ensure that your fish grow rapidly to table size within 5 months. Some people add a boaster for rapid growth, but I don’t encourage it. Kindly allow your fish to grow naturally. We have already discussed feeding.

Water management

Water management in fish farming is simple. What we do is to change the water every 2 – 3 days. We ensure that the water is fresh always. Note that this depends on the acidity of the water you are using.

There are acceptable levels of acidity for rapid fish growth. The acceptable level is usually between 6.5 – 9.0ph values. Levels below 6.5 and higher than 9.0 are considered undesirable for growth. One way to normalize the acidic level of the water is to change the water regularly.

Sorting

A very important part of the fish production business is sorting fish on regular basis. Sorting is the acting of identifying different sizes of fish and separating them in different ponds. After the first month, you should sort your fish. This will help you separate bigger ones from smaller ones.

The bigger ones are kept together while the smaller ones are kept and fed accordingly. After the first month, you can do soring weekly or every 2 weeks depending on your schedule.

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Adequately separating fish also helps to reduce carnivorism which reduces the mortality rate. Also, it helps to decongest the pond and accelerates growth.

If you effectively change the water and sort your fish, you may not need medication until maturity. Also, the mortality rate is reduced to the barest minimum.

Marketing

The purpose of getting into the fish farming business is to make a profit. And to make a profit, you will sell your products. Hence, getting customers and selling your products is very important for the success of your fish farming business.

As your fish begins to grow, do not sit down and wait for the market to come. I have seen people that will write on placards, “BUY YOUR CATFISH HERE”. Most times, they do not find the required market to make a profit. Such people get frustrated and go out of business.

To find your first customer,

  • Visit joints where they sell point-and-kill.
  • Visit restaurants and bars
  • Visit hotels and eateries

Introduce your product to them and offer to supply to them at their approved table size. Different people have different sizes for their table size. For example, some prefer 1kg, while others prefer 1.5kg as their table size. Ensure that you meet the specific requirement of each category of customer.

Another way to market your products is through agents. Some people have been in the business but do batch stocking. This kind of people does not have sufficient products to meet customer demands. Thus, they rely on other people’s products to keep up with their customers.

Some freelance agents know where to sell the products but do not have products. Such people introduce customers to you but collects commission per kg of products sold. If you discover such people, you will have to agree on their acceptable commission.

Now that you have a market for your products, you are good to go. Note that the current market price for fresh catfish is between N1100 and N1200 per kg.

Smoking

You can also add value to the table-sized fish by smoking the catfish before selling them. Some customers buy smoked fish rather than fresh ones. They are mostly market women and those who export the product to other regions. While 1kg of fresh catfish is about N1200, smoked fish is sold for between N1300 – N1500.

Conclusion

Pisciculture or fish farming business can be a source of livelihood to individuals and families alike. It can also contribute immensely to economic growth by contributing to GDP growth and provision of employment.

From the above discussions, we understood that pisciculture is easy to set up, and you can start small. When starting your fishery business, you can use either plastic, concrete, or mobile ponds. Depending on your capital, you can stock as low as 100 juveniles or as large as 10,000. We have prepared a cash flow statement template to assist you in the financial analysis of your fish farming business. You can get it now and compare the cost implication and estimated profit of regular stocking per annum.

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