Nigerian Catfish Farmers Can Save The Nigerian Economy, But Does Our Govt Care?

Nigerian Catfish Farmers Can Save The Nigerian Economy, But Does Our Govt Care?

Editor’s note: Will President Muhammadu Buhari and his government make use of the suggestions made by bright and young Nigerians with the enthusiasm and potential to push the Nigerian economy forward? contributor, a promising Nigerian entrepreneur, author and businessman, Bamidele Onibalusi focuses on the Nigerian catfish farmers who, with the help of the government, could stimulate the growth and development of the agricultural sector of our economy.

Developing nations of the world depend mainly on the primary sectors of the economy which basically are mining and agriculture.

The situation in Nigeria is not different, only that the majority of Nigeria's working population depends on agriculture more than mining. Agriculture is the most important sector of Nigeria's economy, and research shows that about 70% of Nigeria's labour force is engaged in agriculture.

The agricultural sector in Nigeria is mainly dominated by the aged (50+ and retirees), but a sector that is appealing to Nigerian youths is the catfish farming sector. The reasons for this are not far-fetched:

The sector offering opportunities

Since the early nineties, people have been going into catfish farming increasing awareness about catfish, and many Nigerians now see it as a substitute to imported fish.

The self-employment that has been the outcry of the Nigerian government can never be actualized in other sectors of the economy except the agricultural sector, catfish farming in particular. Hence, many unemployed youths have embraced this opportunity to be self-employed in this sector.

In our findings, we discovered that there are over 13 different areas that Nigerians are gainfully employed in the catfish farming sector. These include: 1) pond construction, 2) breeding, 3) feed milling, 4) selling of input, 5) marketing of fresh fish, 6) setting up of fish processing factory, 7) importation, 8) marketing of floating feed, 9) repairing of implements (e.g. pumping machines), 10) consultancy services, 11) work opportunities for farm attendants, 12) transportation and logistics, 13) harvesting.

It will be folly for any reasonable government to neglect a sector that provides so many opportunities for the unemployed, which is why Nigerian farmers are crying for a saviour at this critical moment.

Until recent times, Nigerian catfish farmers have been able to overcome their numerous challenges and thrive. They are now beset with so many challenges that are threatening the industry, and unless the Nigerian government comes in, the once promising industry has a gloomy future.


Some of the challenges in Nigeria's fish farming sector that need urgent intervention from the government

A recent informal survey conducted between January and July this year shows that imported materials are not yielding as much as locally available materials which have not been available due to the Nigeria’s internal Boko Haram crisis. This was further aggravated when the border was closed during the 2015 elections.

Imported fish feeds are not exempt, and a 2012 study of imported floating fish feeds revealed that the actual proximate composition of fish feeds, when analyzed in the lab, was inferior to what was declared by the companies producing the feeds. Four brands were analyzed and fish feed sold by one of the brands, Adolf Calyx, contained just 25.89% crude protein while the company declared 42% crude protein on their label. To the unsuspecting farmer, this discrepancy can have catastrophic effects.

In fact, findings of an informal survey of catfish farmers in various parts of southwest Nigeria, show a good majority of them are now running at a loss since the first half of this year, and the increasing unavailability of ingredients and degradation of the quality of available ingredients is playing no mean feat in this.

Bearing in mind that some of these people took loans from commercial banks with high interest rates above 20%, it makes no sense to continue the business if it is unprofitable, and this is leading to an exodus in the catfish farming sector.

In an ideal economy, the price of inputs should determine the price of outputs but this is not the case with the catfish farming industry in Nigeria. The price of the output is often not in agreement with the price of input. A farmer could raise his fishes when the price of inputs are sky high only to sell when the price of outputs has dropped, often resulting in a loss, and nothing is being done to check this.

To sustain the current government policy banning importation of certain items that include fish products, the Nigerian government must do something to save this sector of the economy.

Proposed solutions

1. The Nigerian government should make use of existing institutional frameworks saddled with the responsibility of regulating and standardizing inputs and raw materials. For example, bodies like the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) and NAFDAC should be proactive at ensuring the quality of inputs entering the country and produced in the country, to ensure that the stated quality are in accordance with what is declared.

2. Research institutes should be established, or empowered, to produce quality broodstock and make them widely available to local breeders to use nationwide. When establishing these institutes, the government should consider areas with is a high concentration of catfish farmers. This will ensure the availability of their produce to the breeders and farmers.

3. The government should be involved in marketing and distribution of the products of the outputs. This can be achieved through price boards and other regulations and controls to ensure stability in catfish production and also the availability of these products all year round.


If the catfish farming sector is ignored and subsequently collapses, the Nigerian government will be dealing a major blow to the agricultural sector that currently employs the highest number of the Nigerian populace. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to ensure the sustainability of this emerging industry.

Nigerian Catfish Farmers Can Save The Nigerian Economy, But Does Our Govt Care?
Bamidele Onibalusi

This article was contributed by Bamidele Onibalusi, with massive input from the veteran of the Nigerian catfish farming industry, Abiodun Eniola Elusoji. Mr Onibalusi is a blogger and freelance writer who has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post, Fast Company, Digital Journal, and the Guardian. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of, its editors or other contributors.

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