Years ago, I was involved with fish production and one of the areas that made me consider quitting the business was the marketing aspect, have you witnessed how fish retailers buy fish? These set of people literally bring their own scale to the farm and no matter how cheesy this may sound, some of them bring charms to the farm to make sure they buy more quantifiable fish with lesser money and later sell at huge prices to make unthinkable profit. Before we proceed to the marketing aspect, can we take a snap look at harvesting of fish? For me actually concrete ponds seems to give the easiest harvesting unlike earthen ponds that seems more stressful and tactful. The last stages of catfish farming is harvesting. This is when the fish farmer is rewarded for his effort. The farmer have a choice of different markets to sell his stock. A farmer can sell wholesale or retail. Fish harvesting seems to be one of the most strenuous activity during fish production, there are a few things you need to put in place before harvesting the fish. You need to gather the harvesting tools and determine the price per kg, don’t feed the fish for at least 10-13 hours prior harvesting, for earthen ponds, a drag net needs to be provided with two to three of the farm workers inside the pond to drag out all the fishes, there is a need for a good pumping machine that can drain out all the water in the pond completely, it is important to have a good fish farm wear because for earthen ponds, the lower part of the pond are always very soft and any farm worker could sink in deep while harvesting, it is advisable to start harvesting early when it comes to fishes reared in an earthen pond so that harvesting can be done in a day and not to be left till the next day because the pond can be filled with water by the next day encouraging another draining again, it is advisable for fish farmers using earthen pond to have a standard inlet and outlet. For concrete pond, all a fish farmer have to do is to drain out the pond and start sorting the fishes into different sizes for better marketing and sales.
Marketing of fish can be done after the fish are harvested but it is advisable to start the advertising of the fish even before they grow into a size of 200g without mentioning the location of your fish farm to any potential buyer till you as a fish seller is ready to sell. Marketing could be on the farm or outside the farm, fish farmers should encourage more organized buying system for fish farm retailers, do not allow fish retailers to come in wagons to the farm during harvesting, arrange fish retailers with numbers on a tag, make them come to the place of harvesting in two’s, do not allow the fish retailers use their scale for measuring, show them your scale and practically show them how effective your scale is, agree on a price with them before they enter into your harvesting site, do not panic with answering their questions, give them accurate answers when they ask about the price of the fish and be detailed with the answers. You can only give out fishes freely to friends and families after you are done selling and your profit is sure, do not give out fishes when you just harvested, remember that fish farming is a business and not a charity venture, recall that any livestock business is very expensive to venture into and many times if a vendor is not careful the profit and revenue would resemble garri and sand mix together and might have to later quit the business in a long run. Before agreeing on the particular price you would like to sell your fish, it is important that a fish farmers sit down to get the expenses of the fish cultivation and derive a price from the calculations. It is important that a fish farmer check around for the prices of the fishes per size but it is not mandatory to sell according to this prices, a fish farmer price can be lower or higher depending on the calculation done by the fish farmer before selling and even the rate of the survived fishes.
Processing can be stressful but many times processing can be the farmers profit recovery point. Processing and packaging goes hand in hand it is not advisable to process and not package accordingly because processing would encourage more value and more value would lead to more profit in many cases of fish production. The catfish are kept alive from the time of harvest up until the minute they are processed. The entire processing procedure is completed after the fish are either well frozen, dried or heated up. Then the fish can either be cleaned, processed by using the smoking machine, or placed on ice or frozen to temperatures of 40° F below zero. All this can help preserves the taste and quality of the fish. Fish business is profitable and very lucrative depending on how a fish farmer harness it from the beginning, all the process of fish production can be stressful but rewarding. It is important for fish farmers to know their target audience and identify their target market, it is important that the fish farmers sell with the right pricing strategy, it is important that the fish farmers rise the bar of their competitive advantage to sell more profitably. The government in recent years have been giving technical support to fish farmers especially the Lagos, Oyo and Ogun state government. Being that the agricultural sector has not been fully technologically saturated and utilized, the Nigerian government is also making sure that more Nigerians take to the rearing of fish for both small scale and commercial use. The good news is that there is still more room for growth, development and investing in this sector. The sector is still growing and more high technology skills would still be needed.
The End of The Fish Business Series.