The event was in part organized to help bridge the gap between the Catfish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFAN) and the breakaway faction called the Catfish and Allied Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFFAN) – both of whom have pledged to reunite this summer.
During the event, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who founded CAFAN, sliced ââa âunity cakeâ and shared it between the leaders of the two former factions, to applause from delegates.
Obajanso called on farmers to merge their processes, plans and structures before selecting leaders. He said it was extremely important to bring together all players in the aquaculture value chain. He also said that “farmers are fooled when we don’t add value to what we produce, so that we can maximize what we get for our work.”
The president of the Fisheries Society of Nigeria, Dr Lukman Adegoke, called for “sales synchronization” to deal with the current situation where prices are dictated by middlemen.
âWe have to avoid the situation where farmers rush their products to the market. We need to develop a quota system that will stabilize fish prices on the market. Only fish farmers should dictate the prices of fish, âhe urged.
He also called for the extension of the upstream integration policy that has seen Triton and other fish importing companies go into fish farming and feed production. Regarding farmers’ agitation for government action on the export of smoked fish, he advised farmers to pay attention to the quality of products.
âA major problem is the monitoring of residues. If your farm is not certified, your products cannot be exported, âhe noted.
He therefore called for the development of local certification groups to facilitate the work of the national certification authority.
An intriguing presentation was made by trainer and fish farming consultant Israel âMr Fishâ Ademuyiwa, who argued that the sector should diversify into pangasius, pacu, African bony tongue and African carp.
“The white catfish (Pangasius hipophtalmus) has many advantages over African black catfish. It is an herbivore, so you can save a lot of money on food. It does not cannibalize, so there is no need to note it. It can reach 1.5 kg in four to five months. And unlike black catfish which is mostly dried, smoked, or eaten fresh, it can be processed in eleven ways, including freezing. A 1 kg fish gives you 250,000 to 300,000 eggs, compared to black catfish which gives you 25,000 to 30,000 eggs. 80% of white catfish include flesh, unlike black catfish, which have a fairly large head alone. You can store white catfish at populations four times that of black catfish. It thrives in earthen ponds, so that small farmers can earn good income by cultivating it. And the white catfish is really tasty, âhe said.
Mr Fish also recommended what he called “the human-toothed fish” – ie pacu – as a viable candidate for aquaculture in Nigeria. Pacu, he said, is a herbivore and can therefore reduce a farmer’s food bill by up to 70 percent.
âIt is successful in both earthen ponds and cage culture, and offers good prospects for commercial production in Nigeria. And the pacu is really tasty, âhe said.
The third alternative to tilapia and catfish, he said, is bony tongue (Heterotis niloticus).
âHeterotis is very tasty, but it is not easy to grow, so it takes work to develop cash crop cultivation in Nigeria,â Fish said.
He also mentioned common carp as a species of fish introduced in the 1960s but rejected by consumers. Today’s environment is different, he said, and carp can play an important role in aquaculture.
The conference was well attended by key decision makers and stakeholders in the aquaculture value chain. Lagos fish farmer Segun Ika said that “the industry will definitely benefit from having all the industry leaders in one place for two days to discuss ways to move aquaculture forward.”