The Chairman of Sunchi Integrated Farms Limited, Sunday Ezeobiora, has lamented that some policies of the government affected their businesses this year just like it affected every other sectors of the economy. Ezeobiora, who is also the National President of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), stated this while speaking at the 10th year anniversary of Sunchi Integrated Farms Limited, in Enugu, stressing that the naira redesign policy, fuel subsidy removal, and devaluation of the currency were the major government policies that had significantly affected businesses nationwide in 2023.
“In all the years we have been in operation, 2023 has been hugely remarkable as it is the year three major government policies had significant impact on our operations. The naira redesign policy, fuel subsidy removal and devaluation of the currency affected our business just like every business in Nigeria”, noting that the past 10 years had been remarkable in the Nigerian business environment and that it had been a productive year since the farm started. Ezeobiora recalled that Sunchi started construction in 2009 and commenced operations in 2013 as a breeder farm, hatchery and small scale feed mill producing feed for the farms internal consumption.
“We started with a 20-tonne per day capacity for the feed mill and 200,000 birds per month in 2013 and within 2014 and 2015; we increased our hatchery capacity to 480,000 birds per month. In 2022, we installed 10 tonnes per hour automated feed mill for mash and five tonnes per hour pelleted feed”, stating that the farm’s oil refinery was established in 2016 with a capacity to refine four tonnes per day. Meanwhile, a university don wants the government to set up aquaculture research stations across the country. This should be done between the Nigerian government in partnership with higher institutions in the country, non-government organisations, just as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations had been advised to set up aquaculture research stations and hatcheries for research, breeding and training of farmers.
A Professor of Fisheries in the Department of Fisheries, Faculty of Science, Lagos State University (LASU), Owodeinde Fatai, made the call while delivering the LASU Inaugural Lecture Series, the 93rd edition with the theme; ‘The Crawling-Slippery Gold In Production System: The Core of Aquaculture in Nigeria’. The Professor said that these efforts would definitely enhance catfish production through training and production of fingerlings for local farmers. He identified some of the challenges facing Nigerian catfish farmers to include scarcity of good quality fingerlings that would reach marketable size within a short period, scarcity of good quality broodstocks with high fecundity and disease free, high cost of feed, inadequate finance, poor management of the existing fish farms due to inadequate knowledge, and skills in all aspect of catfish production.
Other challenges, according to him, include inadequate number of good hatcheries capable of producing fingerlings, epileptic power supply, and activities of thieves, among others. Owodeinde noted that for the catfish industry in Nigeria to progress, the identified constraints must be properly addressed, and that the removal of these constraints would empower Nigerians and Nigeria by creating jobs by generating income, lead to increase in protein intake of Nigerians, and reduce the country’s reliance on imported frozen fish. Speaking further, he said fingerling production line should be properly looked into and that proper attention should be directed to hatchery construction and management, brood-stock selection and management, choice of hormone and care of the fry with particular attention given to feeding of the fry to fingerling stage.
He also said that the numbers of fish hatcheries in the country should be increased considerably by the government for the supply of good quality fingerlings to catfish farmers. “The hatcheries should be saddled with the responsibility of training farmers, universities and research centres in the country, they should be empowered to supply fingerlings to farmers. It is absolutely clear that the growth of aquaculture in Nigeria is largely being boosted by a steady rise in catfish culture, but this enterprise is facing a lot of constraints, which I believe require radical and urgent intervention of both the state and federal governments, farms and research institutions”, he said.
He called for better focus on how to tackle the twin problems of supply of good fingerlings and feed production and also the need to focus on the development of advanced breeding technologies to bring about improved strains and high quality fingerlings. The Professor said this would go a long way to reduce the shortage of fingerling, as he called on governments at all levels to look at ways of increasing funding to catfish farmers to enable them adopt the latest farming technologies needed to enhance production. “Interested catfish farmers should be encouraged, through the provision of soft loans, to take fish farming as a veritable means of livelihood. Efforts must be made to constantly arrange regular training programmes on basic fish husbandry to help fish farmers run their farms successfully”, the don stated further.