For fish farming, it’s like digging gold

By Faith Igbudu

The potentials embedded in fish farming are very robust due to the high demand for it due to its richness in protein, which is a class of food needed for body building and repairing of tissues, management of muscles, cartilage, skin and blood.

According to a Clinical Dietician with Federal Medical Center, Makurdi, David Entonu, “fish has a high quantity of omega 3 oil, fatty acid and also vitamin D. It has vitamin B2 rebofane. Omega 3 and fatty acid are very good for keeping the heart healthy. Majority of people who take fish hardly have heart related diseases.

“It (fish) protects from having diseases because Omega 3 oils are heart friendly, they do not present heart issues and also the vitamin D is good for the formation of bones in children and everybody as they grow. Then it has high quantity of minerals such as iron which is used for blood production. It has zinc which is good for protecting the integrity of cells, like recently with the Corona virus, it is recommended to be consumed and you can get your zinc from fish.

“It has potassium which aids in the beating of the heart. Fish also has magnesium and most of all, it has first class protein which helps to build body and aids in the maintenance of the health of the individual. The protein will build most of the substances you need for your body to remain healthy.

“For people who are ageing, fish is recommended because it will not cause any hazard to them. It will not compound any heart issue in people who are advanced in age and it will keep their hearts healthy because as you grow older, the heart begins to weaken. Consume fish like once or twice a week to keep the heart healthy”, he said.

The emergence of uncommon health challenges which are life threatening and capable of reducing life span have forced humans to limit the consumption of certain foods.

Aside the need to have a glowing skin and the desire for some persons to either keep their weight in check or reduce it outrightly makes protein a good option for food. This is how fish has become a preferred choice for the protein need in food. Fish is said to contain high protein, a low fat food. It is loaded with nutrients and is among the healthiest foods on the planet.

A health expert, Registrar, Family Medicine, Federal Medical Centre, Makurdi, Dr. Osaugwie Chrysogonies, opined that, “Fish is a source of protein that contains omega 3 which is friendly to the heart. For older individuals, those above 40, we discourage them from eating red meat like cow, sheep, goat, in fact, all muscle meat; we encourage them to eat more of fish because it is good for the heart”.

The benefits in the consumption of fish make it a delicacy consumed by many. Fish is eaten in different variations, as peppered, fried, roasted, pepper soup, among others.

Overtime, the business minded ones have seen the window created by the demand for fish and have since taken to the domestic production of fish. The act of fish farming also known as aquaculture is one of Nigeria’s common farming fields which have proven to be very lucrative.

Mr Geoffrey Tsavbem is into fish farming for over seven years. He is the CEO, Joeterry memorial farms, Katsina Ala. He said fish farming is a rewarding venture. He however, laments the high cost of managing the business.

Tsavbem noted that feeds for growing fish gets costly daily, and stated that the situation is of national concern as failure to increase the production of fish, to meet high demand, has led to importation of the produce, a situation he said is causing major financial setback for Nigerian farmers.
“Generally, fish farming is good if the feeds are available. The feeds in the market are so expensive with the best now sold for as high as 12,000 naira, whereas the fish becomes matured in 5-7 months. If you opt to produce the feeds domestically, you are now faced with issue of floating.

“Floating entails that your feeds must have the ability to stay on water because that is where the fish will pick it from. In a situation where the feeds sink and the fish does not pick it, it gets rotten, corrupting the water,” he said.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, had said to encourage local production, Nigeria may stop fish importation in 2022.

Only last year, precisely February 16, 2020, the News Agency of Nigeria reported that the treasurer, Nigerian Fish Association of Nigeria (NFAN) Chibunna Ubawuike had posited that, “the intended ban on fish importation by the Federal Government will save Nigeria over 1billion naira. He said fishery has huge prospect in Nigeria. Nigeria is blessed with water bodies and an array of fish, both for table and ornamental”.

Another challenge as mentioned by fish farmers is that of marketing. This, he said, is owing to the fact that there is no price regulation in the sector so farmers are left at the mercy of those buying the fish who don’t mind the cost of production when making purchases.

“Sometimes, pricing is not encouraging for the fish farmer. Take for instance, last year, when I harvested my fish, people came as far as Abuja to buy with an offer of 500 naira per kg, when a kilo is expected to sell at 800 naira. I had to sell because I needed to sell them.

“Government can step into the business to regulate the price by bringing in off takers for fish not just other agricultural products. Doing this will bring a boost and make it attractive,” he opined.

Similarly, due to the importance of fish, many organizations include it in their development programmes. For example; Feed the Future Initiative launched by United States Aid (USAID) has aquaculture as one of its intervention areas.

Of a truth, with the attendant benefits in fish farming, everyone can cash into its potential to create employment and extra income for themselves and their dependents; after all, fish farming is as lucrative as digging gold.

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