Risk and Glory

Casting your net to catch a fortune. 

I did my higher national diploma in Agricultural extension and farm management in 2011. I got into agribusiness (catfish farming specifically) three years after my National Youth Service around 2015.

Going into fish farming was not my first choice. Like any other youth of my age, l had dreamt of securing a job, but l could not bag any.

Instead of losing patience, I tried my luck in fish farming.

I was offered a job in a catfish farm as an attendant. I discovered that I was passionate about taking care of catfish. My passion led me to seek for more knowledge, outside what I was taught, in our farm. I worked in that farm for more than two years and my highest salary ever was N25,000, Yet I needed to earn more to meet my rising expenditure.

I started with N100,000, being my entire life savings.   I felt confident that I could get back the investment within two years. Today, the business is big with three direct and up to two other indirect staff. I have five  ponds. I am happy, working hard to take care of the fish so they grow quickly from baby fish into large fish that people can eat.

With more than five  years’ experience in the business, I found  fish farming  profitable. I concluded that catfish farming is more profitable than poultry, easier to set up and requires minimum fixed capital.

I’m proud of this accomplishment so far. I remember when there was bountiful harvest in crop farming. I was able to get my input at cheaper rate and I was able to make around 120 per cent in one season (six months).To be a successful fish farmer, I gave the business  all it required.  ” I work extremely hard….I work 365 days every year. My work is also a way of relaxation for me.

Besides being a successful entrepreneur, I was also an inspiration to other fish farmers. People come to me for expertise and assistance, both in terms of technique and finance.

But the success story has not been without challenges.

I could remember when I was in a hurry to stock my ponds; I ended up with poor quality fish from an unknown supplier. I paid dearly for my impatience. I will rather wait for months to have quality seed, than wasting the whole season raising fish that will not do well.

After two weeks of stocking I started to sort them into sizes Big, medium and small.

sorting is one essential activity you must  do to save your investment.

If you don’t sort,  only less than half of your fish will grow well and be ready for sale This is because it is  only the big and aggressive ones that will be eating most of the time and they are usually less than half of the entire stock you have in the pond. But when you sort regularly most of the fishes will be of regular size and they can compete with themselves for food. So they can all grow at the same pace. Please don’t take sorting lightly.

Like many small-scale entrepreneurs, I faced significant barriers in entering new markets, such as securing financing and learning how to responsibly grow the business.

A major challenge I faced was the high cost of fish-feed, which takes up nearly 60 per cent of the production cost in fish farming.

In 10 years’ time, I see my business going international… beyond the nation’s border. I’m very passionate about feeding people who are hungry and giving people who do not have an opportunity to have a job or create a business that could support their families.

My hard work, enthusiasm to learn the new technologies, and the interest to share my experience with novices inching to enter into the aqua culture, make me differ from other farmers. I advise young entrepreneurs to pursue their passion because that is the key to their success.

I also run training to impart the knowledge on aqua culture to other farmers, especially starters to the sector. The corporate package I offers  includes giving initial advice to the farmer, constructing the ponds, managing the ponds, harvesting and marketing the fish. I realised that many farmers fail because they lack professional guidance and proper management.

when I first got into catfish, I was told about the prospects of catfish farming and how profitable it has been. I was looking for businesses with good profit potential, and that I can easily scale, at the time so I was naturally excited several times since starting my catfish farming business. I got into catfish farming because I could see returns within a relatively short time (six months), and I can gradually scale my business to succeed without much supervision from me. I started my catfish farming with about 500 fishes. I made some mistakes and recorded some losses in the early stage, but I’ve since learned from my losses and things have been better.”

catfish farming is profitable. “ Yes, catfish farming is a sustainable business. Even though I had a loss during my first attempt, I learned from experience — by getting good juveniles, carefully monitoring feed I give my fishes, and ensuring my fishes are properly cared for. As a result, barring any uncontrollable disasters (such as flood or disease outbreak), my business has been profitable. I’m gradually expanding my catfish farming business, and my farm currently employs about four to five people at any given time. If one can understand the system, especially how to use locally available ingredients instead of expensive imported materials, catfish farming can be a very profitable and sustainable business. ”

I rear up to 2000 fishes, which grow up to one to two kilogramme before harvest.

I want to enlighten farmers that they could make money from the trade as well as improve their diet as fish is highly nutritious.

Share story