• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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BusinessDay

City dwellers take to fish farming using mobile ponds

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The use of mobile collapsible fish ponds is giving professionals, lay people, students, housewives living in cities the opportunity of becoming catfish farmers. Fish production in Nigeria has increased by about 30 percent in the last seven years, according to a current report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Indirectly, this may be attributed to the growing popularity of mobile fish ponds that make it easier for greenhorns to venture into fish farming.

Before the wide acceptance of these mobile ponds a few years ago, only about 10 percent of the fish consumed was produced domestically. Concrete ponds, which are permanent fixtures, were generally used.

The mobile ponds are plastic or rubbery materials but the most common and widely accepted is the collapsible ponds, which can be collapsed and folded when not in use and can be relocated to another place easily. These mobile ponds have solved the problem of acquiring land for fish farming, as even tenants living in rented apartments can use their front or back yards for rearing fish for commercial purpose.

To neutralise the bad odour associated with fish, many farmers use odour neutralisers – a product called bio-nano energy product to the fish pond water, which is changed regularly to prevent odour that would have offended neighbours in residential area.

The collapsible fish ponds are polygon shaped of 10 feet by 10 feet by 4 feet or 13 feet by 13 feet, and goes for about N60, 000 to N83, 000. Each one can take about 800 to 1,200 pieces of fish. A fish at table size is expected to be about 1kg, so a pond can accommodate about 800kg to 1.2 tons of fish, depending on the size.

A1kg of fish is sold for about N500. A small fish farmer with one collapsible pond can therefore get a return of N384, 000 to N576, 000 in four to six months. Setting up a fish farm with one collapsible pond and all other logistics, provided there is no unforeseen circumstance, costs about N300, 000, which is about half the cost of setting up an equivalent concrete pond farm.

So, unlike the concrete pond farm, where a self-starter can barely break even at the first harvest, which is after four to six months, with collapsible ponds, small fish farms are making profit at the first harvest.

Though, the use of the ponds were adopted initially by people with low capital, without access to land, the ponds are now being widely used by big fish farmers, who set up as many as 10 or more collapsible fish ponds without plans of building the permanent concrete ponds.

Olatundun Tijani, a fish farmer in Egbeda area of Lagos, for instance, uses 15 collapsible fish ponds on about one plot of land. Before relocating her business to this piece of land, she did the fish farming in her home compound with concrete pond. By the time she decided to expand her business, she went for collapsible fish ponds. Even though the piece of land the mobile fish ponds are located is not rented but owned by her family, she has no intention of constructing permanent fish ponds.

The mobile fish ponds no doubt have challenges. Due to excessive usage, it may begin to leak at some points after some time, because the material is not as tough as concrete. But there is a simple solution. Yinka Fayemi, another fish farmer using mobile collapsible fish ponds, says repair is very easy. “It can be sealed at the point of leakage by melting plastic and spreading at the leakage point. When this dries, it seals the leaking point and then one can continue using the collapsible pond normally.” 

 

OLUYINKA ALAWODE