Catfish farming is known to be one of the most profitable farming, which yields significant investment. Also, I have seen farmers who complain of the loses they incurred; some run into severe debt that does not allow them to continue their farming business, they just quit. Recently, News making round Nigeria state that Farmers cannot pay back to the central bank about 7000 farmers who key into the anchor borrowers programme found it very difficult to pay their loan back, this is one of the challenges businesses face, this people lack several techniques to optimize their farming’s, low crop yield, amongst others which have to infringe on the productivity amongst farmers which led them to abandon their farm. However, In catfish farming, there are some reasons why farmers find it hard to make a profit, and these are mostly avoidable by them and can also be corrected, but due to lack of information and technical skills they find it challenging to do this, hence they incur severe loses.
One of the significant challenges faced by farmers in catfish production in Nigeria is the feeding process.
I went to a farm recently to inspect activities of catfish farming and the methods which they use to engage in their farming process, when I got to this man’s farm, the stench from the water was so disgusting, the unfortunate part was that this farmer only feeds his catfish once in a week, the fish fend for themselves in the water, they are just there, he never cared about the fish, sometimes he gave them local food which does not amount to anything nor give them nutritional benefit, but this man also calls himself a farmer, he seldom change the water which has an adverse effects on the PH level. When these fishes were taken out of the water for inspection, what you find inside them were sand, insect, sticks and others they were smelling. This is a sad situation across the country.
To combat this issues, farmers need to understand the importance of feeding to catfish; even human beings need adequate food for adequate growth, why then must you starve your fish, your investment the food required for them to grow?
The first thing a farmer needs to understand when going into farming is the water PH level; fishes survive only in water and water must not be neglected like some farmers always do. Many farmers do not consider that the water they put into their fish should be tested to know the PH level, they just put fishes inside the water and expect them to start growing which doesn’t work that way, the farmer itself needs to understand water and the kind of water that fishes thrive inside.
Any farmer that knows the importance of water to fishes understands that his fish will grow bigger and faster in perfect water. But any farmer that ignore this fact only see that his fishes have stunted growth and disease have infected them because they thrive in this environment, it is this environment that breeds them, and it will only result to loses for them. You will always find these farmers complaining about the sudden death of their fish and sudden wound their fishes are sustaining.
Catfish farmers also need to understand that to maximize growth and reduce loses in their farm; they need to have a perfect understanding of water temperature and the quality of the water which they Use for their fish.
It has been recognized that underfeeding is another challenge facing catfish farmers in Nigeria. Most farmers do not know the appropriate feed without underfeeding or overfeeding their fish. One crucial skill a farmer must learn is to understand how to observe the uniqueness of each stock he purchases to understand the uniqueness the features of the species, by following this feature the farmer will be able to know how to feed them appropriately. Catfish farmer should understand that there is no convenient way to feeding their catfish, there are some measurable quantities given, but it differs, to use this is very difficult. The best method is to understand the uniqueness of the catfish to understand the best way to feed them.
However, some young farmers who have little experience think that the best way to feed their fish, achieve fast and maximum growth is to supply them very well, which often leads to overfeeding of their fish, wastage of feeds and resources, and most make the water very dirty. This feeding process is not a one-way method; it needs a lot of experience which must be mastered by catfish farmers that mean business and wants to make a profit. Farmers needs to understand that when they overfeed, it will lead to pollution of the water, which will reduce the amount of feed the fish will take, which will affect the growth and resources being deployed. Like the man explain above who gave his fishes locally made food, this is not limited to him, it cut across several farmers who feed their fishes whatever they deemed fit, which often leads to stunted growth and reduced yield.
Another critical factor is the timing of feeding, farmers should understand that it takes least 10 hours for small fishes to digest their feed intake, while bigger takes more time to digest, farmers should never feed anyhow, they should have a timeline in feeding their fishes, for example, they might choose to be feeding their fish every 12 hours or 13 hours this will make them have a pattern.
Maximizing the use of your resources will help you to have a high yield. And never Overfeed, Underfeed your fishes.