This article in the August 2017 Feed the Future newsletter shows how a Nigeria-based livestock and aquaculture business is incorporating smallholder fish farmers into its business.
Fishing for Market Opportunities in Nigeria
In Nigeria, a country where the population consumes nearly two million metric tons of fish per year, the market opportunity for fish farming is huge. Fish is also a key ingredient in many Nigerian dishes and an important source of protein, and the country’s growing population ensures that demand will continue to boom.
But the fish sector is facing a challenge, too. More than half of the fish consumed by Nigerians is imported, and the price of imported fish has increased significantly because of the devaluation of the Nigerian naira. The Nigerian government is taking steps to ban fish imports in order to stimulate domestic production, but a gap in locally produced fish remains.
Even in areas that have suitable water resources for fish farming, like the Kano and Sagamu regions of Nigeria, farmers lack the technical knowledge that fish farming requires to take advantage of this opportunity. In addition, they do not have access to hatcheries that supply juvenile fish that small-scale farmers need to profitably expand their fish-farming activities. Chi Farms, a Nigeria-based livestock and aquaculture business, is working to change this by helping small-scale farmers–primarily women–tap into this business opportunity.
To increase local production, Chi Farms, with support from USAID/Nigeria, is collaborating with Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation, a program that invests in private sector partnerships to commercialize agricultural innovations in smallholder markets. The aim is to increase Chi Farms’ capacity to supply juvenile fish to farmers and build teams of aquaculture specialists to provide extension services.
Because access to juvenile fish is a significant constraint to small-scale farmers interested in aquaculture as a business, Chi Farms is building two new hatcheries that will supply juvenile fish to farmers. Each hatchery will produce one million juvenile fish per year, and will provide access in previously underserved geographical areas.
Chi Farms’ client focus teams–which consist of university-educated aquaculture specialists–will also help farmers who have little to no experience with aquaculture build successful aquaculture businesses. Farmers will receive training in good aquaculture practices, financial management, and farming as a business. Client focus teams will also help more experienced fish farmers set up demonstration ponds to educate other farmers in their community and highlight the business potential of fish farming. Once established, farmers will have the opportunity to sell some of their fish back to Chi Farms for processing or sell directly to fresh fish markets. The client focus teams will remain available to farmers at this stage to provide additional guidance and marketing support.
Chi Farms is also offering up a market opportunity for smallholder maize and soy farmers in Nigeria through this partnership. As more farmers pursue fish farming, they are also increasing the need for maize and soy for aquaculture feed production. This demand will generate more income opportunities for grain farmers, contributing to the overall economic growth of communities.
Fish farming represents a major market opportunity for small-scale farmers in Nigeria, and Chi Farms is helping farmers access and take advantage of it to build sustainable, long-term sources of income. By providing farmers with inputs and technical support, Chi Farms is helping small-scale farmers grow their businesses and create a reliable, locally-sourced aquaculture market in Nigeria.