Cage fish farming on the rise..check out why
Sea cage farming is being promoted across riverine areas in Lagos. Young and old entrepreneurs are now looking at marine cage farming as a lucrative business. DANIEL ESSIET writes.
Initiated by the Lagos State, aquaculture in marine cages programme is providing a ray of light for many in the fishing sector in Afowo Community Owode, Apa Kingdom in Badagry Local Government Area.
Aimed at empowering 200 youths and women, the cage fish culture system is to further drive youth and women empowerment in a bid to help them make positive changes.
At the symbolic stocking of the cages in Badagry, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, said each of the cages would be stocked with 1,000 juveniles of tilapia and catfish.
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She added that each of the beneficiaries would also be given 20 bags of fish feeds, medication, as well as a monthly stipend of N15, 000 for four months before the fish is harvested in furtherance of the determination to help them succeed in the business.
Comrade Aladeotan David is a Coordinator, National Youth Council of Nigeria, Badagry West Local Branch. He is one of the beneficiaries. He is happy to be involved in cage culture because of the huge profits involved. He is a tilapia farmer. To other aspiring entrepreneurs, David noted that tilapia aquaculture was so promising, adding that they have been taught to understand the value chain, as well as how to operate at minimum cost. He thanked the Ministry of Agriculture for motivating him to start cage culture farming this year.
The same goes for Mrs Elizabeth Ogupe. Her participation in the cage aquaculture has opened up opportunity for her to make a living.
She sees it as a frontier for growth and for engaging youth and women in the community.
According to her, the efforts of the state government has helped to increase their understanding of managing, particularly the well-being of fish in cages.
Speaking on this, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Hakeem Oduyinka Adeniji, said fisheries sector was one of the main components towards guaranteeing continuous food supply in the state.
He stated that the state government was working to reposition the aquaculture sector for success and that strategies were in the framework to increase fish culture produce.
The goal, he stressed, was to expand the production of sustainable, marine cage culture while creating employment opportunities.
His words: “The objective is to empower youths and women. We have about 200 beneficiaries. This is the first circle. We are flagging off the harvest. The beneficiaries were selected from the community. We allowed the community to select the beneficiaries. They were then trained by our technical team”
So far, he noted that the result has been tremendous.
He added: “We have done two cycles of harvesting. It has generated interest from Benin Republic.”
Adeniji said the government was determined to promote sustainable utilisation of the rivers for food security and poverty alleviation.
Generally, while aquaculture (fish farming) has a great potential to replace the needed demand of fish, the farmers face several constraints, including fish seeds, feed and technology.
He said the government was also promoting marine cage farming with allowances for young people who want to be involved in it.
The Permanent Secretary said the government is working to ensure there were no issues that would pose a serious threat to the widespread adoption of cage system.
He noted that not only was the government taking care of these needs, but that the beneficiaries were offered practical training on how to manage the business and generate a good return on investment .
He reiterated that the government was implementing measures to improve the quality of fish products for local and export markets.
The cage culture enterprise, the Director of Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture, Emmanuel Audu reiterated, was aimed at empowerment and using aquaculture to produce food, provide employment and generate income.
Audu noted that the government was encouraging the farmers to adopt practices that would improve the efficiency of their operations and boost the quality of fish products.
He said: “The technology allows the farmers to raise fish within their natural environment. We have recorded high efficiency in terms of feed conversion .The parameters are kept at fairly constant levels. We engage security men within the community to watch over the cages.”
According to him, the government wants to strengthen the aquaculture industry to enable it show sustained growth and become a key part of its economic framework.
He said the sale of fish is expected to realise income for the beneficiaries for them to restock their cages and have a cycle that allows fish to be available all year round.
Audu said the government started with 200 cages .He said there were challenges initially. One involved cannibalism especially among cat fish. He explained that cannibalism was common among cat fish; hence they stock enough juveniles to prevent a situation where continuous eating of them could lead to the population diminishing considerably.
Sometimes, the farmers face nature’s challenges, with strong currents caused by speed boats posing a big challenge to keeping the cage suspended in the water.
He explained that they have held meetings with marine transporters on responsible driving.
On the whole, he thinks cage farming is the best technique for both quality and quantity of harvest, and it takes around four months for a cycle to complete for cat fish and six months for tilapia.
Generally, there are also no requirements for maintaining water quality because it is a dynamic system at sea. A cage comprises hard frames as support and nylon nets as cage body.
Also the cages are generally enclosed on all sides, except for an opening at the top for feeding and handling the stock.
To support the sector’s growth, there has been an increase in the number of local fish feed plants supplying the market.