Nigeria Aquaculture Industry-A Long Way to Go

1. Advantages to Develop Fish Farming in Nigeria

1.1 Natural environment

Nigeria, whose land area is 923,768 square kilometers, is located at West Africa. There is plenty of rain in Nigeria, rich in groundwater resources and surface water system. Coastal areas receive more rain every year. Rainfall increases gradually from west to east, from north to south. Annual rainfall of western regions is 1778mm, eastern regions-4318 mm, central part-1270 mm, norther part only 508 mm. Judging from the aforesaid natural conditions, it should be said that there are basic conditions required for aquaculture in most parts of Nigeria. If people can act according to circumstance and raise fish with scientific methods, aquatic products market in Nigeria should be more active and richer in variety and quantity.

annual rainfall in Nigeria

1.2 Government Backing

It was reported that Nigeria spends about 97 billion Naira (630 million dollars) every year on importing around 700,000 tons fish products from areas like Europe, Latin America, and African, which leads to great loss of foreign exchange reserves. At present, total fishery production in Nigeria reaches to 680,000 tons, among which aquaculture accounting for 200,000 tons. Given that, Nigerian Government decides to expand aquaculture scale and make annual output reach 2660,000 tons to meet domestic market demand. Meanwhile, the government will also regard it as an significant component of Millennium Development Goals to improve the country’s fishery output.

2. The Current Situation of Culture Fishery in Nigeria

As a matter of fact, aquatic products market (except for the southern coastal area) is lack of quantity, with single species and high price. Taking capital Abuja for example, each Frozen Yellow Croaker (20 cm) costs $1.1. To meet the market demand, Nigeria Government had to pay plenty of dollars annually to import aquatic products. According to the data provided by FAO, from 1996 to 2001, Nigeria spent a total of $14,252,000 and purchased 25,934 tons of aquatic products on the market. To a developing country in which people that live on less than $2 a day account for 70% of the total population, this expenditure is really a heavy financial strain.
Problems existing in Nigerian aquaculture

fish farm in Nigeria

2.1 Lack of large-scale fry production

Stimulated by high price of aquatic products in the local market, many farmers have recognized the high profits of the aquaculture industry, and start to develop the fish farm using the natural pond in their courtyard. Other farmers with more economic strength are planning to invest in new pond or transform the fishing pond to develop aquaculture.
But the fish hatchery in Nigeria is far from meeting the need whether in quantity or quantity. Take the southern Edo state as an example, a total of two hatcheries, no more than 200 thousand tails, to supply the fish-fry market in the 5/6 surrounding states, which leads to the catfish fry being in short supply.
Each newly hatched catfish seedling costs 5 naira (1 naira≈0.06 RMB), after cultivation for a
week, costing 10 naira, more expensive for larger size. Tight amount of fry seriously hindered the development of catfish aquaculture.
The north fry supply is mainly in Plateau and Kaduna, the south is mainly concentrated in the Enugo and Ibadan, because of rare fish hatchery, some farmers have to drive hundreds of kilometers away to purchase fish fry, the expensive oil consumption has increased the cost of farming, and not conducive to fry survival. These objective limiting factors seriously affect the development of aquaculture in Nigeria, combat the farmers' confidence and enthusiasm in the development of aquaculture industry.

2.2 Lack of the necessary equipment support and medicine supply

Constrained by Nigerian domestic production capacity, the majority of fishing equipment and fish medicine production are blank, and need to be imported from abroad. To reduce the budget deficit the federal government restrict imports of a large number of agricultural materials, it’s hard to get the equipment and materials that can boost development of the Nigeria fishery, these materials include:fishing nets, fish feed processing equipment, fish processing machinery etc., some advanced technologies can not be fully utilized without the necessary equipment support.
Because of the hot climate in Nigeria, serious fish disease cause relatively large losses. In Nigeria,common diseases of catfish are rotten skin disease and enteritis, technically, it is easy to prevent, using some antibiotics can play a very good role in prevention, but restricted by the shortage of fish medicine, the price is so high, it is difficult for farmers to accept, therefore rare farmers take preventive measures, the aquaculture stay in a backward phase depending on the weather,once the fish diseases outbreaks will cause great loss.

fish disease

2.3 Lack of food sources

Under utilization of local resources, large-scale industry needs to be developed
Nigeria produces more than 3.8 million tons of animal feed each year, of which 68% are poultry feed, 28% is pig feed, and fish feed only 35,570 tons, less than 1% of the all animal feed.
The phenomenon of unreasonable feed ingredient ratio is more common. Except some imported feed, the most feed composed by only beans and grains, while the fish feed pellet,which can promote the development of aquaculture, is blank in Nigeria. Most catfish farm mainly feed rice bran and wheat bran, a few farms add about 5% of the fish meal. Because of the unreasonable nutrient composition, the feed conversion rate is low, breeding cycle greatly extended, objectively, increase the waste of food, induce the production cost, reduce the production efficiency of the farm.
In many places there are a large number of high-quality food resources, after a little processing they can be used,but duo to lack of rational use method, so in some extent, caused a waste of resources. For example, the by-product in the development of animal husbandry like intestines, blood, bones, hair that from pig, cattle, sheep and chicken, will become high quality nutritional fish feed after collecting and processing.But Nigeria's industrial development hasn’t been formed a well scale and there is no large meat processing plant, livestock slaughter and processing are dispersed in the folk, this increased the difficulty for collecting those waste materials, then resulting a serious waste phenomenon.
Shortage quality feed and incorrect feeding method also caused some waste of resources. Because of incorrect feeding method ,feeding time, backward feed production process, bad palatability, and poor floating such problems exists, some feed cast into the water didn’t be ingested by the fish in time and soon sink to the bottom of the pool. Most fish farm feed fish not timely,use improper method, so the fish have poor ingestion, stay starvation for long time, causing fish body weight loss and low survival rate.
Because lack of theoretical knowledge, some farm even give fish mildew feed, which has played a reverse role. Unscientific feed management method results that in some farms the 10-month catfish is only about 0.25kg.

2.4 Unreasonable farm design,backward technology,low level of management

In parts of Nigeria land is sandy soil, having poor stability and water retention,can't adapt to the development of fish, but a lot of farms blindly invest ponds without investigation and analysis, when start to put into production finding water seepage phenomenon is serious, can not be used for farming. In contrast,those swamp area closed to the lake side is more suitable for aquaculture development, using the water seeped out from land supple the evaporation of the sun. However, some fishing grounds did not get carefully considering when choosing sites, which causes the whole fishing pond to be flooded after the rainy season.   
The scientific method of well water fish farming is not well spread, south has high underground water level,easy to dig wells,many farms decided to use well water to fish farming, but many fish farms abandoned soon after building. The main reason is using well water without aeration treatment,the lack of dissolved oxygen content in the underground water frequently caused gas disease, being heavy losses and ultimately had to be abandoned.
The daily management of many farms is random, always don’t take care of the fry after putting into the pool. Some farm don’t implement graded feeding, a batch of fish has different size fish, causing cannibalism and lower productivity. Some of farms does not change water in the whole feeding cycle, water quality degradation, the growth of fish are seriously affected.

2.5 Single species can not give full benefit of ecological fish culture

Lack of necessary variety improvement. Although there are a lot of scientific research institutions in Nigeria, due to funding constraints can not provide high-yield breeding varieties to community, few new varieties while almost is the local species,which degradation phenomenon is serious. Heterosis, all male control and other advanced production technology are rarely used here. The catfish body is very small and with long production cycle, it will spend more than ten months from fry to commercial fish, which is not conducive to greatly improve the yield.

tilapia and catfish

Tilapia and catfish are the two main species in breeding process, because catfish is carnivorous fish, at the upper level in the food chain, with higher demand for feed,so the existing resources can not be used fully. Breed very little omnivorous species,some in the bottom of the production chain,which can directly consume phytoplankton and grass, such as silver carp,variegated carp,crucian, these species can provide enough food for catfish. In contrast,the ecological farming model setup by more reasonable multiple species food chain is more advantageous for improving production benefit.

3. What Should be Done to Develop Fish Farms in Nigeria?

There are many factors restricting the development of the Nigerian aquaculture industry. The most fundamental problem is the lack of necessary capital investment. Because of the shortage of fund, some fish farms or hatcheries that are with excellent natural conditions are idle. Those fish farms can be put into production if being simply converted with less money. Besides, they will create a better economic efficiency if using modern scientific methods of farming.
According to the existing conditions, Nigeria should train the technical personnel, raise funds, and energetically expand the advanced technology till the industrial scale is formed.

Pond Fish
Aquaculture in a pond works great. Fish as well as the water, oxygen, sunlight, pond shape, plants, trees and other animals all play an important role in pond aquaculture systems. In Nigeria, the main reasons for slow-growing of pond fish is due to inadequate lighting, insufficient pond fertility (Water fertility determines a pond’s productivity) and poor feeding management. Fish farmers should :
★ Carry out the pond disinfection work, dig superabundant pond mud, increase light intensity, clear out the clutter in the pond.
★ Pond fertilization. As with land and crops, the fertility of the water determines the productivity of a pond. A typical pond supports 100 to 150 pounds of fish per acre. Fertilization can double or triple this production by stimulating the growth of microscopic plants (phytoplankton) and animals (zooplankton), which comprise the base of the food chain (Figure 8). These organisms are fed upon by insects and small fish, which provide forage for larger game fish.
For example:

Application Rate
water soluble powder (10-52-4, 12-49-6)
4 pounds per acre
liquid (10-34-0)
1 gallon per acre
granular (20-20-5)
40 pounds per surface acre

Rationalize breed density
Overstocking the pond with fish can lead to health problems for the fish.  Fish waste (faeces) contains ammonia and in a confined space with too many fish, this can build up to toxic levels.  

Fish species
Breed density
Clarias fuscus
7-9 tails per square meter
6-8 tails per square meter
6-8 tails per square meter
6-9 tails per square meter

Besides that, as a rule of thumb some fish breeders recommend using no more than 25cm of fish per square metre of pond. This is a simple guide where you would estimate the length of your fish placed nose to tail (eg. you could have 2 fish that are about 12.5 cm long or 5 fish that are 5 cm long) to give you a rough estimate as to how many fish you can stock per square metre of pond.  After the pond has established a healthy balance, you may wish to add more, but remember that fish grow.  

Feed scientifically and take carefully.The feeding amount of fish feed pellets should be 3—6% of the fish weight. Here I would like to talk more about “supplemental feeding”. It be used to increase the growth of fish and harvesting rates of ponds. Be sure to continue a feeding program once you have started it. If feeding is discontinued while the fish are still accepting feed, there may be more fish than the natural food supply can support, resulting in stunted fish of poor quality. Occasional feeding will do little to increase fish growth.

Promote scientific management of drugs to prevent fish disease.  Fish diseases may cause severe losses on fish farms through:
◇ reduced fish growth and production;
◇ increased feeding cost caused by lack of appetite and waste of uneaten feed;
◇ increased vulnerability to predation;
◇ increased susceptibility to low water quality;
◇ death of fish.
Efforts to keep farmed fish free of diseases are important both for fish welfare and for the economy of the fish farmer. 

Ensure good water quality: Water quality is the most important factor affecting fish health and performance in aquaculture production systems-sufficient supply, with adequate dissolved oxygen concentration and free of pollution.
Tolerance limits and optimum temperature ranges for commonly cultured fish species of Kenya (Nile tilapia, African catfish, common carp and rainbow trout):

ensure good pond water quality

Keep the pond environment healthy. The Key to a healthy pond is getting the balance right: control silt, control plants, keep a healthy balance of phytoplankton and zooplankton, and exchange water if needed. If necessary, use mechanical aeration. Disinfect the pond regularly.

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