Planning your Catfish Farm-Further considerations

This series addresses further considerations one should take before deciding to go into this business, in as much as there demand exceeds supply for catfish in Nigeria currently, a lot of people still make the mistake of thinking it is very easy to sell your harvest, without taking into consideration competition in the area, the locations, the type of market and the proximity to the final consumers. With proper planning and strategic management of your farm, you should be able to sell your harvest and make a good profit.

Marketing Your Fish
Currently most fish produced in intensive to semi intensive farming (usually between 1 tonne (1,000 kg) to 10 tonnes (10,000) kg per harvest)  are sold at the pond site where the buyers come and buy them during the harvest. In this scenario arrangements are usually made with buyers. For harvests larger than 10 tonnes (Massive capital involved), for example in intensive commercial settings, an internal transportation system may be available for the farm to supply directly to their markets or factories for further processing.

Harvesting could also be done regularly to satisfy their customer’s needs, even if the amount they buy monthly or weekly is very little. This is called a “niche market,” i.e., a market where the seller is assured of a small but regular outlet for their produce. You may also sell fish to restaurants or institutions such as schools or hospitals. It is advisable that small-scale producers form marketing groups, which will assure them a regular market.

Marketing studies
Before beginning a fish farming enterprise, a farmer should conduct a market study to help determine:
• The type and size of fish preferred by consumers (Fingerlings, Live fish, stock fish, etc.)
• The quantity of fish required by the market.
• The best time to market fish.
• Which other farmers are supplying fish.
• The prices at which fish are being sold.

Farmers must bear in mind that the focus of all marketing activities is to satisfy the consumer.
• Every time a consumer buys fresh fish, whether in large or small quantities, what they are telling you is that you should continue to grow and sell fresh fish. In the case of fish traders, consumers are passing a signal back to the farmer telling them “produce more
because I am ready to buy your product.”
• If the consumer stops buying, the trader will also slow down on purchase of your fish. If this happens, they could be passing on information about the price of your product, the form of your product (fresh, dried, or otherwise), or the quality of your product.
• A marketing system enticing consumers or traders to buy more fish from you is best.

What do consumers want?
• A marketing system that provides high-quality fish on demand at the lowest cost.
• Efficiency in the delivery of services.
• Reliability or assurance that the product will be there when needed.

Some basic marketing principles
• The efficient transfer of fish and fish products from the fish farmer to the consumer is vital in any fish marketing system.
• Fish is a perishable commodity and must be transported to the market quickly to avoid spoilage. If the market is not readily accessible, the product should be processed promptly before it loses quality (Stock or frozen fish). Transportation and storage costs, which are directly related to physical handling of fish products, must be considered. Storage of perishable commodities such as fish is also an important consideration. (Temporary storage ponds or tanks).

Some tips for marketing your fish
• When fish are ready for sale, harvest and send them to the market immediately.
• You can increase the value of your product by doing some basic processing, either of the whole fish or of parts of the fish. Some possibilities include:
Dry the whole fish or pieces of it and package them, starting with the smaller fish. This will prolong the shelf life of the product (Catfish).  For other fish species, consider freezing them (Tilapia).
• When taking fish to the market, check prices and sell as quickly as possible. There are risks in holding fish for a long time waiting for the best price: i.e (Additional cost of feeding above your budget)

Moving on                                                                                                                                                     This series has focused on two important topics that should be considered before time and money are invested in a fish farming enterprise—choosing appropriate sites for pond development, integrating fish farming into larger farm operations, and marketing the product following harvest. The next series looks closely at how to design a good pond as well as at the actual process and financial cost of building a pond or sets of ponds.

Stay tuned

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