Stakeholders harp on alternatives to cut fish feed costs

He said that it was pertinent that the various agriculture research institutes in the country step up to the aid of local fish farmers in the innovation of alternative feeds.

 

Some stakeholders in the aquaculture sector harped on the need for alternative feeds to cut production costs as fish feed prices continued to rise.

The stakeholders made the call in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos.

The chairman, Catfish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFAN), Mr Sunday Onoja, said the rising costs of fish feed is biting hard on the sector.

He said that it was pertinent that the various agriculture research institutes in the country step up to the aid of local fish farmers in the innovation of alternative feeds.

“The reality of the impact of the rising cost of fish feed is that so many farmers allow external factors to affect us.

“We are at the mercy of fish feed importers because we have over depended on external sources for feed meal.

“Nigeria is the largest producer of catfish worldwide, that means there are resources God has placed in the country that we can make use of as fish feed.

“Prior to when we patronised fish feed from other countries of the world, we used to make use of local materials for fish feed.

“That is why we need our various agriculture research institutes to work on alternatives for local fish feed production as the cost of the imported ones soar,” the CAFAN chairman said.

Onoja noted that local fish farmers were disappointed at what research institutions were doing, even in the universities and schools of agriculture.

“We have never heard of any innovation or research on alternative fish feeds.

“Most times we wonder where the billions the government spends on these research institutes contribute to innovations in Nigeria fisheries and aquaculture sector.

“Personally as the president of an association, I have not felt the impact of any of these research institutes on the fishery and aquaculture sector.

“We need to be beneficiaries of the research in these institutes because taxpayers’ money are being used to sponsor these institutions.

“If we have alternative feeds, we can cut down 35 per cent of production cost in the aquaculture sector,” Onoja said.

On his part, Mr Bashir Amin, a fisheries and aquaculture consultant, said the right utilisation of alternatives in fish farming would determine the profitability of the sector.

“Fish feed is very important to aquaculture because it constitutes about 75 per cent of recurrent costs of a fish farm.

“The ability of a fish farm to utilise feed properly will determine whether it is making profit or not. Because it is an item that is very expensive now.

“The only thing that we will need to do is that there has to be some kind of substitution of some of the key ingredients that are not produced locally.

“We should substitute with locally produced items what we import and at the same time still meet the requirements of the fish we culture, which is the African Catfish.

“So there are no two ways to do it, the requirement of the fish must be met. What we just need to do is ensure the use of quality animal protein, especially fish feed, has to be reduced,” the expert said.

According to Amin, “We must reduce the use of fish in the feed meal so we can cut down the cost of the feed without jeopardising the quality of the fish harvest”.

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“As alternatives for fish feed, we presently have what we call poultry meal, this is made up of the innards of poultry when it is slaughtered.

“The innards are being processed by a big poultry industry in Ibadan and they call it fish feed. We also use insects as alternatives for fish feed.

“We also began the culture of the Black Soldier Fly (BSF). I was once a beneficiary of a training with wildlife service in the Netherlands, for the culture of the BSF in poultry feed, but it has not come on a commercial scale in Nigeria.

“These alternatives are areas we can look at to probably try to reduce costs and be able to make more profit to keep the industry on track,” Amin said.

However, Mrs Evelyn Dimgba, a fish processor, called for caution in the use of alternative feeds for fish meal, in order not to jeopardise the quality of the harvest.

“As a fish processor, most of the fish we process are armature fish and when you dry them they will shrink, you will not get the exact size you expected.

“Processing locally grown fish is quite difficult in recent times. You will process a fish and in a few days it goes off, you find some mucus substance inside because of what they are feeding fish now.

“Most fish farmers mix all sorts together to make feed meals because of the growing cost of fish feed.

“If the quality is jeopardised in the cultivation process, then it is what you give, that you will get out at harvest.

“This indiscriminate mixture of feed concentrates is one situation that is really causing problems in the entire aquaculture value-chain,” Dimgba said.

 

(NAN)

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