A big part of the reason many young Nigerians are not flocking to agriculture is because they do not believe that it will make them enough money. After a brief stint in polythene production, Friday Diyen became a fish farmer in Asaba, Delta State, after he finished university, and his story was a confirmation of many people’s fears with agriculture: plenty of potential for growth, but low profits due to gaps in knowledge.
“In the beginning as a fish farmer, other farmers and I were not effectively feeding and stocking the fish, and we did not know what to do before stocking. Of course, as a result of these things we were not making a lot of money.”
PIND started its demonstration pond project to address this knowledge gap. During the pilot that ran between November 2012 and September 2013, we worked with fish feed company partners to teach 80 farmers from United Ufuoma Fish Farmers Association (UUFFA) the best practices to yield the best results and, ultimately, profits. Farmers earned the confidence to stock less fish, knowing they can keep the mortality rates of their fish down and, as a result of increase their yield and income, make more money from their work. The positive results from the farmers and the enthusiastic response from the fish feed company was what we needed to team up with Grand Cereals and spread these practices to farmers elsewhere in Delta State like Ughelli and, indeed, Friday’s fish farming cluster in Asaba.
“I realized is that: you don’t just stock fish, you have to quarantine them against diseases and other things,” Friday tells us. “We also learned to feed according to bio-mass and other calculations. This bio-mass calculation was not easy, but we realized that it was the right thing to do.”
Just as with elsewhere these practices have been taught, Friday saw a marked difference in his yield and profitability.
“Between the first demonstration I did in 2014 and now, I’ve done five or six harvest, and I’ve seen the impact of these better practices on my profit margin,” Diyen says of his experience. “I would say my profits increased by about 40%! I also even voluntarily participated in the pond project sponsored by Top Feed as a secretary of the demonstration.”
The demonstration pond project does not stop at teaching farmers how to improve their farming methods. The team also teaches them the skills they need to create viable businesses from their farming. Many farmers also have onward trainings so that they too can become trainers in these practices and offer these trainings to other fish farmers for a small fee.
“I see myself growing in the business now. I want to buy my own land, train as many people as I can train to empower them. That is my dream.”
Chairman of the Camp 74 Fish Farmers Union in Asaba, Delta State