Could you please, tell us what motivated you to you start fish farming business?
I started the business of cat fish rearing when I retired as a service man some years ago. I was also encouraged by some of my friends who were doing the business, and based on that, I learnt about the business and started it.
Though I had ventured into some businesses before now, but I was not that comfortable with the outcome and that was why I deviated to cat fish farming.
In doing this business, there are two major types you can do based on your capacity and strength to manage the business successfully. We have the growers and the hatching; the grower is not that stressful as the one of the hatching. The hatching is more stressful and it requires more work.
The one I am doing now is grower. We buy and rear them. We call some of them fingerlings, post and juvenile; if you buy those ones, you can put them inside the pond and start feeding them, change the water until they grow and the stress associated with these ones is minimal. But if you have the strength, you can go into the hatching, though it is a bit stressful, but if you can do it you will enjoy it.
The hatching is from egg to life, and it is like when a woman delivers baby, you know how to take care of the newborn, for two to three days you may not know that there is something inside the water; it is through experience that you can know, until it become a week.
You have been in the business of breeding cat fish, and how has it been?
To be sincere, the one I said we do with grower, it depends on how much fund you have, if you have your enough money, you will enjoy it very well,
What does it require to start this business?
It depends on how you want it to be. It does not require huge amount to start, but you can start small and begin to expand the business as time goes by.
The hatching we are talking about is the lowest, and you can start with small money, but it requires strength to work. if you have N5000, for instance, you can start with that, and after three months, and if God really wants to bless you, you can get up to N30,000 to N50,000 but for the grower, you can start with 10,000, and with that some of money, you can only buy 1000 pieces, you will now feed them, and that feeding can cost you because it depends on how you want it to be as it depends on the way you feed them.
Since you started this business, have you got any assistance from the government?
I did not ask.
Are you aware that government is giving loans to small scale farmers like you?
I know, but it was through our cooperative society, the Ifako Ijaiye Farmers’ Association that I raised money.
We have cooperative society in which if you want to get a loan you apply, but you know when you apply for a loan, it is from hand to hand as there are certain percentage the cooperative will collect from you. And if you don’t want to go through all financial process you better stay on your own.
In what areas do you think government can assist fish farmers like you?
If government really wants to assist, they can attend to individual without going through a cooperative because if you did not go through the cooperative nobody will attend to you.
This is because if you go through the cooperative, you may have certain year you will be a member for you to have certain amount in the cooperative before they can listen to you, before they can accept you to come in.
Do you belong to any of the associations?
Yes. I am one of them in my area.
What is your assessment of the business environment for cat fish?
It is on the average, because it depends on how much you invest in the business.
This is because if you as a customer want to harvest our fish, and when we ask you to come back to buy at a later date without a definite answer you may stop patronising us, but if we are able to tell you the exact time to come you will continue to patronise us .
What are some of the challenges so far?
Some of the challenges are moral support, for example it is only me and my wife that do the business, because my children have to go on their ways, and we cannot because of that stop them from going to school.
It is my prayers that by the grace of God ,we have never regretted what we have been doing as fish farmers.
What would you say has sustained this business?
It is God. God has been sustaining the business for us, and up till now, I have not regretted venturing into this business, and I will still continue to do it.
Are you looking forward to getting assistance from the government to expand the business, or you tend to run it base on your own capital?
I am not looking on the government, because to me I think our government is not reliable, as our leaders can promise you heaven and earth, but at the end of the day, you will be surprise that they may fail you. And that is why I did not have it in mind that until I see a help from government, I will remain in the business. I don’t have it in mind.
Do you think local fish farmer can meet the local consumption?
I do not think that local fish farmers can meet local consumption as the capital involved cannot match what is needed locally.
I am of the view that before the governments ban the importation of frozen fish, there is need for much support by the government to assist the farmers first, when this is done, they can now ban importation.
It is a pity that Government did not make enough effort to support the fish farmers financially through cooperative society to enable the farmers prepare very well for the raining day before the banning of imported fish into the country.
Though on the other hand with the ban it will assist local fish farmers to brace up and work more so as to meet local consumption. Before you know it the labour of these farmers will not be in vain.