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Fisheries development is generally directed towards three main objectives: (i) to bring about improvement in the overall fish production in the country; (ii) to raise the social status of the fishermen; and (iii) to increase the protein intake in the diet of the general public.

In Nigeria, programmes to develop fisheries have been designed during different periods of the national development programmes, with limited success. These developments will be discussed under the two major headings of Capture and Culture Fisheries Development (sections 6.1 and 6.2).


The major constraints on the development of artisanal fisheries in the major inland water bodies in Nigeria have been identified as:

  1. Inadequate supply of inputs to the artisanal fishermen. Most of the fishing grounds are located far away from the sources of supply for fishing inputs and, added to the extremely high cost of inputs and the non-availability of capital to artisanal fishermen, they are unable to equip their units for effective operation.

  2. The changing nature of the seasonal streams, rivers and pools frequently leads to low productivity of these water bodies and to poor fish catches by the fishermen. This naturally leads to a low income base and poor living standards for the fishermen. This cannot be avoided, particularly along the floodplains of seasonal rivers disturbed by either drought or artificial water control by reservoir authorities. Under such conditions, full-time fishermen have to search for alternative occupations such as floodplain farming with residual soil moisture during the dry season.

  3. Poor management of the water bodies by the government authorities results in low productivity and consequently low catches by the fishermen. This is caused by the absence of fisheries edicts in most inland states and lack of enforcement of the edicts in states where they have been promulgated. This has led to the use of undesirable fishing gear by some fishermen and application of very destructive fishing methods by others.

  4. There is a shortage of trained manpower at different levels of the profession for effective capture fisheries project implementation, development planning and administration. There is also inadequate dissemination of information on fisheries activities and resource potentials as well as processing, marketing and resource management. In short, extension services are inadequate and need serious re-orientation and strengthening.

Another major constraint is the fact that most fishing communities have no access roads thus rendering marketing and distribution of fish difficult and also creating problems for extension activities where such are organised. It is also common knowledge that most fishing communities in Nigeria, and other developing countries, lack basic amenities such as water supply, health facilities and schools for their children.

Some of these problems have been tackled by the government at different times but lack of continuity frustrates development efforts and there is therefore a need for a co-ordinated effort at all levels of development to ensure continuity. Such development efforts are no doubt capital intensive, but some revenue could be generated by the government through registration and licensing of fishermen (Table 27.) for re-investment in other areas. Approaches to the solutions of some of these development constraints are discussed in the following sub-chapters, which deal with extension services, fishermen organisations, credit facilities, adaptive research and on-farm demonstration.


A model organisational chart for most States Fisheries Departments in Nigeria is shown in Figure 8 with either the Director of Fisheries as the Head of Department, as is usual in most Southern States or the Chief Fisheries Officer as the head of the department as is common in most inland States. Those from the rank of Director down to the Principal Fisheries Officer are based at the State Headquarters for administrative and policy matters. In some States the Senior Fisheries Officers control a zone, based on some Local Government Areas and each have some Fisheries Officers working under them. The real field extension work is carried out by the Fisheries Superintendents and Fisheries Assistants. Because of the inadequate support base for fisheries development, most field staff who would normally be engaged in extension work are confined to overseeing a few skeletal projects at their bases such as demonstration fish farms or collection of statistics. Their limited contacts with the fishermen through catch statistics collection is often constrained through their inability to meet the demands for input supply and credit facilities requested by the fishermen. Unlike the World Bank assisted Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs) in the States, where Extension Agents are regularly instructed, no such training is available for Fisheries Extension Agents.

There is currently being proposed a Unified Extension Service for Agricultural and Fisheries Extension Agents in the States under the ADPs, but this has yet to start in most States. Under the Unified Extension Scheme, an Agricultural Extension Agent would also be instructed in Fisheries Extension work to be able to serve both farmers and fishermen within his area.

It has been observed that extension messages are no longer being developed by research institutes as a result of poor funding and thus there is a hiatus in technology transfer and fishermen are left to fend for themselves with inherited, unwritten technology. In aspects of capture fisheries, however, the local fishermen are highly skilled and their major problems are input supply at affordable prices and credit facilities.


Fishermen organisations, either in the form of cooperatives or other traditional associations, have not been well established in the inland fisheries of Nigeria. This can be attributed to many factors among which are the limited number of Extension Agents with a basic knowledge of cooperative organisation. Even where knowledgeable Agents exist, the basis for cooperative formation is often asociated with government development programmes and fishermen are usually organised, or encouraged, to form such associations in order to benefit from government assistance. These associations are often based on religious or tribal affiliations and therefore lack a basic organisational framework and philosophy for cooperative formation. Their life span usually extends only as long as the government incentive continues.

Another major reason for lack of interest in cooperative formation among fishermen in inland fisheries is the poor resource base and therefore poor income status of the fishermen. Most fishermen prefer to live as individuals or families and operate at this level rather than form associations with other fishermen. Where inputs are distributed fishermen prefer to be treated as individuals with their “Sarkin Ruwa” or Chief Fisherman as their guarantors. The fear of association is often based on their inability to understand the book-keeping methods of their secretaries who in most cases are not usually trusted by fishermen who cannot read and write.

In view of the fact that most floodplain and riverine fisheries are associated with low capital inputs, the organisation of fishermen into strong cooperative associations beyond their traditional affiliations may not be a good idea for most inland fisheries, even where government projects are being planned or executed. Most fishermen interviewed along the floodplain of the upper Niger expressed the view that their major problem is that of input supply rather than capital to acquire the input. This was the common opinion among flood pond fishermen whose capital inputs were simple and fairly cheap, being limited to gourds as floating objects instead of plank boats and with only clapnets and foul hooks as the principal fishing gears. The total capital input for a fishing unit among this category of fishermen is currently about $70.00 or N700.00 (Naira). Their income, estimated at an average daily catch of 8 kg and 4 kg, for the good and bad fishing seasons respectively, and for a total of 160 fishing days in the year, amounts to about $960.00 at an average selling price of $1.00/kg of fish or N10.00 per kg of fish at 1989–90 prices.

Similarly, even the canoe fishermen operating in small perennial rivers, reservoirs and lakes whose capital requirement does not include outboard engines would prefer to obtain credits for their inputs in kind or cash as individuals. In all cases, credit facilities whether through the government or other financial institutions, are usually in kind rather than in cash. Fishermen prefer input supply in kind since their major problem is often the distance between their operational bases and the sources of most inputs.

Fig. 8. Organisational chart for fisheries personnel in a typical coastal or inland State in Nigeria

Fig. 8.

The last category of fishermen are those operating in major rivers such as the Niger and large reservoirs such as Kainji Lake who require different categories of input, including outboard engines ranging from 5hp to 15hp with price variations of about $700 to $1,000. The total input requirements for these categories of fishermen vary from $2,500 to about $4,100 including recurrent expenditure on fuel and engine maintenance. These fishermen cannot readily find guarantors within the traditional system for their credit requirements due to the high cost of the inputs.

As a matter of policy therefore, the Government encourages fishermen who require assistance and credit facilities to belong to registered cooperative societies which automatically serve as guarantors for their members. Where such a registered cooperative exists, it is usually headed by a Chairman. Other officials include a Secretary and a Treasurer. To become a member, each fisherman is expected to pay a registration fee of about $1.00. Monthly meetings are organised and each member also contributes a minimal amount each month to boost the capital base in the bank.

A few of the societies investigated had limited capital in their bank accounts and therefore did not grant loans to their members. These associations are active whenever the availability of government grants or credits is announced and once the contact with government officials ceases the association goes into dormancy.

Among the northern river and floodplain fishermen, loyalty to the traditional chief or “Sarkin Ruwa” is strong although without any financial commitment. Each Local Government Area is ruled by an Emir or traditional head. Each Emirate is divided into Districts controlled by District Heads. Under each District Head are towns and villages each of which is headed by a chief. Where there are fishing communities a specialized chief the “Sarkin Ruwa” is appointed by the community. Whereas the District Heads are paid token salaries the “Sarkin Ruwas” are not usually paid, but despite that they are highly respected within their communities.

These traditional structures are extremely well organised and in most cases are very useful avenues for implementing government development programmes. They can serve as channels of communication between the government and the fishing communities both for implementing government policies and for organising small scale credit facilities or incentives for the fishermen. Therefore, although the organisation of cooperatives could be made compulsory for major credit facilities involving boats and outboard engines, it is equally effective to utilize the traditional system for minor incentives and input supply to small-scale artisanal fishermen.


With the exception of a few government organised schemes, credit facilities are not readily available to inland artisanal fishermen in Nigeria. Among the reasons usually advanced by financial institutions are the low fish production by this category of fishermen and inadequate collateral. Fishermen often resort to money lenders and fish mongers who usually charge higher interest rates.

Within the last decade, some credit facilities for fishermen have been administered either by the Federal Government or by some State Governments, parastatal and international organisations. Among such schemes are:

i) National Accelerated Fish Production Programme

This was a national scheme introduced by the Federal Government through the Federal Department of Fisheries. Fishing inputs such as engines, gillnets, ropes, lead and twines were made available to fishermen with a 50% subsidy in order to assist them in attaining maximum capture efficiency. The inputs were paid for in full and the proceeds paid back into the government treasury.

This system was not without its disadvantages on account of the faulty strategy adopted for the operation of the scheme. The scheme was operated without much attention to details of who were the true fishermen. In some States dealers in fishing inputs suddenly registered as fishermen in order to purchase the subsidised inputs and later resell them to real fishermen at the current market prices. A scheme that requires total cash payment, even at 50% subsidy, is bound to inflict some injury on true fishermen who often do not have ready capital for such purchases and may resort to money lenders whose interest rates may in the long run end up being much higher than the market value of the items. In some cases the names of true fishermen were used by dealers in fishing materials to purchase the items on agreed terms with the fishermen who had no capital. A scheme of this nature would probably require identification of true fishermen by their various cooperatives or traditional rulers. However, it is questionable if a scheme requiring substantial cash payments, even at subsidised rates, is really suitable for inland fishermen who are not often in possession of such capital without resorting to money lenders.

ii) Unsubsidized Revolving Loan Scheme to Fishermen

This experimental scheme was successfully tried out between 1980 and 1983 by the National Institute for Freshwater Fisheries Research, New Bussa, at two stations on Kainji Lake. The objective was to try the model and later recommend the system to a development agency such as the then River Basin Development Authorities.

Ten active fishermen were selected from each station out of a total of more than 50 applicants at each station. Prior to the selection, their catches were monitored daily and their fishing methods noted along with their catch per unit effort. Inputs were given to the fishermen with the highest catches per unit effort.

All the beneficiaries were required to accept the “Pilot Scheme” boats, painted with the national colours of green, white and green but had the option of accepting or rejecting other inputs. The boats were designed and constructed by the Institute's boat building workshop and sold to the fishermen at moderate costs. Two packages were supplied to the sample of 20 fishermen:

Package IItemsAmount in US Dollars
One boat at a cost of$ 80.00 
One 25hp Yamaha engine$120.00
Four bundles of nets$ 16.00
Total for the package $216.00
Package II  
One boat$ 80.00 
Five bundles of nets$ 20.00 
Total for the package $100.00

The two stations identified for the operation of the scheme were one close to the Institute's headquarters at New Bussa, and one near a field station at Shagunu on the mid eastern shore of the lake. This was to allow for regular monitoring of the fishermen who were expected to make repayments daily, either with fish or cash, estimated at the rate of 20% of their daily catches. A register of repayments was opened for each beneficiary and the daily fish supply or cash payment recorded with the thumb print of the fisherman, witnessed by a third party. Fish collected near the headquarters were sold fresh to staff, while those collected at Shagunu, located about 50 km from the headquarters, were preserved by smoking and conveyed to the headquarters once a week for sale to staff and members of the public.

Provision was made for the prompt servicing of the Pilot Scheme outboard engines by the Institute's boat engine mechanics. Spare parts supplied for repairs of the engines were added to the loan if the fishermen could not pay cash. Fishermen located at remote villages on the lake often bought fuel at double the commercial rate and in order to economize they tended to mix it with more engine oil than necessary thus causing serious damage to their engines. Pilot Scheme fishermen were supplied with fuel, at the current market value, on request.

The scheme was successfully completed on schedule. Inputs supplied to a few fishermen were confiscated while others took slightly longer to repay their loans. No initial deposits were requested. Although the loan was intended to revolve, this was not practicable on account of the slow repayment rate. Perhaps an initial deposit payment would have been better to facilitate the revolving arrangement of the scheme.

The scheme was adopted by one of the River Basin Authorities who decided to service many fishermen scattered at various fishing villages on the lake. Daily trips with a speed boat were made to collect the part payment of the loan in kind, but in most cases more fuel was spent in searching for the fishermen than the value of the fish supplied. Their scheme folded up with most of the beneficiaries absconding. This demonstrated that it is important to identify landing sites for successful operation of such a scheme.

Some State Governments have also attempted supplying inputs to fishermen under a revolving fund, but had to discontinue because returns had to be paid into the government treasury instead of an independent account for the revolving fund. In this situation, loans recovered in the previous year are not made available in the new year for purchase of more inputs.

iii) International assistance for fisheries development in Nigeria

One of the major problems preventing the inflow of international assistance to fisheries development programmes in Nigeria is the absence of ready and reliable data, as well as feasibility studies on the artisanal fisheries of Nigeria. These fisheries are known to contribute over 95% of the current local fish production and have the potential to increase by more than 10 fold. Recently however, some studies have been undertaken by the Federal Agricultural Coordinating Unit (FACU) in Lagos, Rivers, Ondo, Bendel, Oyo and Sokoto States as well as the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and there are plans to cover other States in future. These studies have facilitated early and conclusive appraisal of and investment in the artisanal fisheries of these States by both the State and Federal Governments, as well as some international lending agencies such as the World Bank (IBRD and IDA), IFAD and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Studies on capture fisheries in Sokoto State, recently completed by FACU, revealed that past loans granted to fishermen in the State were fully repaid. Investigations revealed that there is a high potential demand for credit in the capture fisheries sector of the State and most fishermen were optimistic that they could catch more fish if granted credit facilities in kind.

Among the proposals advanced for credit administration in the State based on the recent feasibility study (FACU, 1989) are the following:

  1. It was recommended that credit should be made available to fishermen in kind in the form of inputs such as nets, hooks, canoes and outboard engines.

  2. The study identified four types of fisheries packages based on the types of water bodies fished: Seasonal rivers and floodplains package (I); Small perennial rivers, reservoirs and lakes package (II); Major rivers e.g. River Niger package (III), and Major lakes e.g. Kainji Lake, package (IV) (Table 28).

    The capital outlay for packages I and II, which involve fishing with calabashes, clapnets and some foul-hooks and some nets, are low and may not require credit. It was observed that the cost of administering such loan packages would be so high as to make the exercise unprofitable. However, if a few fishermen could show enough evidence of the need to obtain credit facilities such fishermen could be considered. Packages III and IV, involving major rivers and lakes, qualify for credit facilities, because of the high cost of inputs in the form of boats, outboard engines and netting materials.

  3. The study proposed that loans should be operated in the form of a revolving fund such that loans recovered in a particular year are given to other groups of fishermen that have not benefitted from the credit facility in the previous year. A separate deposit account should be opened or a bank should be appointed to operate the credit system.

  4. Loan guarantors: Priority is to be given to members of fishermen cooperatives where such existed to make for easy identification of beneficiaries and recovery of the loan, since the society would act as guarantor for the loan obtained by its members. However, in the absence of a cooperative society, fishermen could be granted loans if guaranteed by either a well-known member of the community, the Village Head or by the State Government.

  5. Qualifications for credit: fishermen who do not belong to a cooperative society were to undergo a performance appraisal conducted by the credit agent before being approved for the loan. This is to ensure that the recipient is a bona fide fisherman. Evidence of past performance of the fisherman should be investigated and proof of current practice, as indicated by possession of fishing craft or gear, should be identified. To be qualified for credit, the fisherman should be easily identified by the credit agent. He should also be easily accessible along the shore of the lake or river.

  6. Loan administration: The report recommends that loans from international donor agencies should be operated on a revolving loan arrangement and implemented by a financial institution rather than a government agency. To achieve its objective the financing agency (supervisory agency) should have within its staff some experienced fisheries professionals who should be fully engaged in implementing the project. The role of the government agency should be restricted to monitoring the activities of the financing or executive agency. The government, represented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources (MANR) Extension Unit, should cooperate with the representatives of the financing or executive agency to ensure that true fishermen are identified for credit, appraisal studies of the fishermen are well conducted, and that true assessments of the qualification of the fishermen are conducted prior to the administration of credit. The agency administering the loan should be responsible for loan recovery in order to guard against conflict with the extension duties of the government agents. Table 28 shows the revolving arrangement for the administration of the loan over a five year period.

Table 28. Number of units for revolving loan administration for Packages III and IV over a five year period (FACU, 1989)

PackageYear 1Year 2Year 3Year 4Year 5Total

The Capital and recurrent costs for the administration of the loan during the first year of operation are shown in Table 29.

It was estimated that the cost of servicing the loan by the executive agency would be about 5% of the total amount of loan capital assuming an interest rate of between 15% and 20% on the capital. The interest rate on the loan is however a policy decision to be taken by the government.

Table 29. Capital and recurrent expenditure for a revolving
loan administration during the first year of administration (FACU, 1989).

Capital CostAmount U S$
Two 4-wheel drive vehicles
Five motor cycles
Contingency 10%
Total Capital Cost74,000
Recurrent Costs 
Salaries and allowances of 2 Block Officers
Salaries and allowances of Credit Agents (5)
Drivers (2)
Operating cost (20%)
Vehicle maintenance and running cost
Contingency 10%
Total recurrent cost18,000
Total capital cost74,000
Grand total expenditure$92,000


Experience has shown that unlike crop agriculture, where the introduction of large scale applications of inorganic fertilizers and the introduction of improved high yielding seeds were complete innovations to local farmers and therefore they had no choice but to accept these innovations with their subsidies, fisheries technology as related to inland capture fisheries has not really offered anything completely new to the local fishermen except the introduction of outboard engines, and these they have accepted without reservation. In instances where the new technology is merely trying to demonstrate an improvement over their own methods, they always exercise restraint in the adoption of such technology. This has proved to be true in both aspects of fishing gear and fish processing technology.

The major reason for their lukewarm attitude towards the adoption of so-called improved technology is attributed to the fact that such innovations are always associated with additional costs for the materials or gear demonstrated. In the case of fishing gear, the use of plastic floats and lead (instead of the commonly used styrofoam cork material and stones covered with old netting instead of lead) is a good example of extra overhead costs associated with the inputs. Even where such inputs are supplied at subsidized cost, the overall investment in the gear is always much higher than the original of the traditional fisherman.

During an “on farm” demonstration of the Institute's well designed beach seine net, with heavily laden lead line and numerous corks on the float line, in one of the floodplain lakes in the middle belt region of Nigeria, the fishermen were able to prove to us that their own seine net, without a single lead along the bottom rope and with widely spaced styrofoam floats along the cork line, was even more effective. Whereas our dragnet was, on the few occasions demonstrated, dragged to the shore with much difficulty and constant halting to release the lead line from the thick muddy bottom of the ponds, the fishermen had very smooth hauls with their net and therefore landed more fish. They even assisted in improving the efficiency of the Institute's net by wrapping the leads with grasses to prevent them getting buried in the mud. During the next haul our dragnet performed much better than in the previous hauls. We were convinced that we had nothing new to offer to the local fishermen in such aspects of capture fisheries.

Other instances of observed innovations by local fishermen in inland capture fisheries were those of the “Dala” open water seine-net for catching clupeids in the open lake or river and the use of a traditional fish fence “Saba” for catching inshore tilapia early in the morning prior to their migration back to deeper water.

The freshwater sardines Pellonula afzeliusi and Sierrathrissa leonensis occur in commercial quantities in Lake Kainji but, until recently, local fishermen were only able to exploit them along the river with the “Atalla” lift-net which is only suitable for non-turbulent waters. The “Atalla” netting material has about 3 – 10 mm mesh depending on the season and is tied to a rectangle of bamboo poles measuring about 3 × 4 m. One side of this rectangular frame is pegged to the boat, usually with two operators one at either end of the boat. A long rope is attached to each end of the opposite poles for hauling the net out of water and shaking the fish into the boat.

During the operation, each operator depresses the pole on his or her side into the water with one foot to a depth of about one or more metres. The boat is then paddled simultaneously by the two operators for some distance either parallel to or towards the shore before lifting the net to shake the trapped fish into the bottom of the boat. This operation is not practicable on the open lake because of wave action.

In the late eighties the Institute introduced the paired boat trawling method for exploiting the clupeids in the open lake, but the input required for a fishing unit was far beyond the reach of the local fishermen (two boats, two engines and a trawl-net costing about US$5,000 or N50,000). However, during the eighties, some Malian fishermen migrated down the River Niger as far as Kainji Lake with their mosquito netting open water seine-net called “Dala” which has been found to be very effective. The operation requires two boats without engines. The net is hauled slowly, with the help of wave action, into one of the boats. The outlay for a “Dala” fishing unit amounts to about US$1,000 which is within the reach of many local fishermen who pool their resources to acquire such a unit. Several fishermen now exploit clupeids with “Dala” nets both on the lake and the River Niger north of Kainji Lake.

The “Saba” fish fence is constructed with small stems of a plant identified as Alehomea cardifolia. The stems are fastened together using raffia palm leaves or some other local fibres. The fence is constructed in a series of various heights ranging from 0.5 m to about 1.5 m and separated into sections of 10 m or longer depending on the depth of water. It is set in a semi-circular position, quietly at night on strategic, gently sloping, bushy floodplain areas with a water depth of between 0–1.0 metres. It is set in such a way as to expose the top 10 – 30 cm above water. A gillnet of 2 inch (50.8 mm) stretched mesh or larger, about 2 metres deep and over 300 metres long is stretched loosely in an upward sloping position from the top of the fence and held in position by bamboo poles fixed behind the fence.

This traditional fishing method takes cognizance of the lateral migratory behaviour of fish from deeper to shallow inshore waters at night to feed along the littoral margin. At the first sign of day-break, the fish start migrating back to deeper waters and, on coming into contact with the obstruction, attempt to jump over the fence only to be trapped by the overhanging gillnet. Fish smaller than those which could be retained by the 2 and 3 inch mesh of the nets often succeed in passing through the net and fall into the water outside the fenced area, while those larger than the mesh size used are retained either gilled, entangled or trapped in the loose pockets of the net outside the fence.

The “Saba” fishery is seasonal and is more effective during the drawdown period as the flood recedes from the bush. It is most effective when the flood completely recedes from the grasses thus exposing the tilapias, the dominant species caught with this method. The species composition in “Saba” gillnets is limited only to species that are capable of jumping out of the water and that are predominantly found along the littoral region of the lake. Most of the bottom feeders such as Synodontis spp., Chrysichthys spp. and Auchenoglanis spp., that are not capable of jumping, are not usually recorded in the catch. Other jumping species captured along with tilapia are Alestes spp. and Hydrocynus spp.

The “Saba” method has been cited as one of the most effective passive methods of catching tilapia alive in those bushy inshore areas of reservoirs and lakes not usually fished with active gears such as seine-nets or castnets (Ita, 1987b). Selectivity analysis for 2 and 3 inch mesh nets commonly used above the fence revealed that about 76% of the tilapia caught by 2 inch gillnets along the most intensively fished shore line were immature, while only 27% of those caught by the same gear in a less intensively fished area were immature. About 23.3% of those caught with 3 inch mesh nets in the same two localities were immature. The use of 3 inch mesh nets above “Saba” fences was therefore strongly recommended in order to guard against overfishing.

The field investigation of the “Saba” fishing method was conducted to confirm or otherwise the validity of the stipulation in a State Fisheries Edict that “Fishing with Saba” was one of the noxious methods of fishing. Our investigation revealed however that if the right mesh net is used above the fence the method could be classed as highly scientific and very effective. In view of the relative scarcity of the traditional fencing material, a substitute had to be found. A net fence made of half inch ply (36) was substituted for the local fencing material and found to be very effective although more expensive and therefore unacceptable to the local fishermen. This goes to prove that any innovation that involves additional cost is unacceptable to local fishermen.

The above observation is also true of innovations in preservation and processing technology where the “Altona Kiln” has been introduced to many fishing communities, but found to be abandoned for one reason or another. The commonest reason is that it is wasteful of firewood, a scarce commodity in the savanna and semi-arid regions of Nigeria. The traditional mud kilns with direct firing systems are still the most popular and are used in various designs (round, rectangular, oval shape etc.) by different communities.

The use of ice boxes for storage has also not been accepted in inland waters on account of the extra overhead costs. The local fisherman it seems is not prepared to shoulder any additional overhead cost in equipping his fishing unit, besides his boat, outboard engine and the familiar traditional fishing gears. This lukewarm attitude can possibly be partly attributed to the paucity of fish landings in inland waters compared with the coastal marine.

Salted smoked fish has been demonstrated to be much preferable to non-salted smoked fish, but because of the extra cost associated with salting it has not been accepted as a tradition in fish smoking. Similarly, the use of fly-proof boxes for selling fried fish, although shown to be more hygienic than exposure in open trays, is still not widely used on account of the extra cost in the construction of fly-proof boxes. The use of such boxes could however be imposed by its incorporation into edicts and its implementation enforced by the imposition of penalties for defaulters. The use of fly-proof stalls in the market for selling meat and fresh fish has been enforced in a few city markets in Nigeria, but the majority of sellers still expose their fresh fish for sale in open trays or boxes. The protection of fish from flies can also be enforced in all Local Government Areas by provision of fly-proof stalls and their allocation to fish sellers on a rental basis. The fishmongers are well able to adapt to changes if enforced since they operate on a higher profit margin than the fishermen.

Similarly, open sun drying of fish without fly-proof screens in the hot savanna and arid regions of the country can be legislated against in edicts and enforced. The lack of screens often leads to the use of insecticide sprays to keep off insects. The adverse effect of such direct insecticide application on humans who consume the fish, although not substantiated by research, is nonetheless known to have serious health implications. In view of the widespread use of this method in Lake Chad and other parts of the Northern States of Nigeria, it is imperative to force the fishermen to screen their fish against flies while sun drying, since it is clear that they would not of their own volition incur any additional cost for screening materials. Alternatively, the different Local Government Areas can construct such screens and charge the fishermen a rate for using them. Again, fish drying under screens has been demonstrated but not adopted by fishermen who find it cheaper to use insecticides.

Generally speaking, adaptive research and on farm demonstration in inland capture fisheries have not proved to be a very successful use of extension services in Nigerian artisanal fisheries. It may require a completely new generation of fishermen, with an investment approach to capture fisheries, to accept innovations requiring additional financial input.


Both extensive and semi-intensive culture systems can be practised within wetland ecosystems. Extensive systems can be subdivided into floodplain culture and extensive culture in small reservoirs. The developmental requirements and extension needs of these systems, as well as fish pond aquaculture are highlighted in the following.


Some examples of this culture system, such as the utilization of the flood ponds by the local inhabitants for enhanced fish production through artificial fertilization have been highlighted earlier. It is possible to retain fingerlings of newly spawned species during the recession of flood waters for stocking flood ponds. Storage of such fingerlings during the interval between the receding flood waters and the isolation of the ponds could constitute a major problem unless extension agents make some provision for them in small enclosures or cages.

There is a need to identify all possible flood ponds along the Rivers Niger and Benue floodplain areas that are suitable for increased fish production through extensive culture practices. Accessibility could constitute another major constraint to the development of a good number of such flood ponds. Those located within the Niger/Anambra floodplain area are communally owned both by fishermen cooperatives and the local inhabitants. Development projects could be set up to assist fishermen to increase the productivity of their ponds through credit facilities to cooperatives for procurement of fertilizers, fishing gear and pumps for draining the ponds during harvest. As discussed earlier, the Anambra Imo River Basin Authority (AIRBDA) had previously embarked on such a programme, but recently all the River Basin Authorities have been stripped of their fisheries function. The AIRBDA approach was based on the provision of inputs for harvesting and sharing of the harvest on an agreed ratio. A comprehensive development programme could be designed to embrace management, including stocking with fingerlings collected during the receding flood, and fertilization with organic manure (cattle, poultry or pigs). This will require an organised collection system prior to the exposure of the ponds.

Selective cropping of the ponds would have to be carried out prior to stocking with fingerlings in order to eliminate the larger carnivores. In view of the extremely large size of most of the ponds which have an average surface area estimated at about 32 ha, different fishing methods, using large mesh gillnets and seine-nets greater than 3 inches stretched mesh and long lines with baited hooks, would have to be used for an intensive short duration fishing operation prior to stocking.

Development of flood ponds is much easier than the development of bunded lagoons. Reed et. al. (1967) have identified possible locations for bunding along the lower Niger and the Benue Rivers. Although such areas are identifiable on aerial maps their accessibility could consitute a major constraint. It is therefore important to conduct land and water surveys to identify the accessible areas for possible development, by bunding suitable lagoons and to organize the local fishermen into cooperatives for possible financial assistance. Areas identified by the survey team could be introduced to nearby communities for communal activity both during the damming and during fish harvest. Other management practices, such as fertilization and stocking with fingerlings collected during the receding flood, could also be practised under this system. Personal communication with the Chief Fisheries Officer of Kogi State revealed that lagoons bunded by Reed during the late sixties are still being used by the local fishermen with minimal repairs each year.

On-farm adaptive research into the management of both flood ponds and bunded lagoons could be an excellent way to persuade prospective farmers to invest in organic fertilization and stocking. A comparison of production from managed and unmanaged ponds or lagoons together with the estimation of costs and benefits, could be used to persuade both the communities and fishermen cooperatives to invest in the management of their ponds.

Extensive culture can also be practised in small reservoirs located in various parts of the country. Studies conducted in Kano State (Ita and Pandogari, 1987; Ita and Mohammed, 1988) reveal the paucity of species and the low productivity of such reservoirs. The catch per unit effort in six of the reservoirs averaged 1.4 kg/1,000 m2 of multimesh gillnet fleet and 2.8 kg per boat of artisanal fishermen. Extrapolated estimates from a regression of fish standing crop against catch per unit effort (catch/1,000 m2 of experimental fleet) revealed that the average standing crop for the lakes was 30 kg/ha. This is extremely low when compared with an average standing crop of 240 kg/ha for Kainji Lake. A recommendation was made to stock the reservoirs with a minimum of 1,000 fish per hectare. Jankara Reservoir, a eutrophic polluted reservoir with a teeming population of tilapia was identified as a suitable source of tilapia fingerlings for stocking those with low fish densities.

Reservoirs in Kaduna State were also observed to have low fish species diversities, averaging about 2 species per reservoir (Ita and Along, 1987). The low diversity notwithstanding, the catch per 1,000 m2 of multimesh gillnet fleet was higher than that of Kano State reservoirs (about 4.5 kg) while the catch per boat in commercial landings was 4.8 kg. It was concluded that with a standing crop of about 90 kg/ha the fish density in the reservoirs was adequate (about 3,000 fish/ha) and therefore did not require additional stocking except with the objective of diversifying the species in order to maximize the utilization of available natural food in the various habitats of the reservoirs.

Studies of this nature are needed in all the reservoirs in various States of Nigeria. A proposal for enhancement of fish stocks in small reservoirs throughout the country has been included in the UNDP Country Programme for 1992 to 1994. It is hoped that with such international assistance productivity studies would be completed and stocking programmes organized for selected reservoirs.


Nigeria is blessed with an extensive coastline estimated at about 960 km in length and with an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles. The surface area of marine waters belonging to Nigeria is estimated at 309,120 km2. This added to about 19,425 km2 of brackish water creeks, lagoons and swamps gives a total surface area of about 328,545 km2. The marine fishery potential has been estimated at 273,500 mt per annum.

Although the inland water mass is small (estimated at 124,878 km2 by Ita and Sado, 1985 and updated to 149,919 km2 in this report) compared with that of the marine environment, it has a higher fishery potential. Estimates in Ita and Sado, 1985 give a lower limit of 334,214 mt and an upper limit, under adequate management, of 511,703 mt. The latter estimate is about double the potential from the marine sector. In addition, more and more impoundments are being planned in different parts of the country for irrigation and domestic water supply purposes. Also more private investments in fish farming are being undertaken in inland waters than along the coastal marine shores.

Fish pond aquaculture production is currently very low, estimated at below, 10,000 mt/year from a total water surface area of about 5,500 hectares. It has been estimated that if Nigeria is to be self sufficient in fish production through aquaculture, a total of about 900,000 hectares of water surface area must be cultivated to produce a minimum of about 900,000 mt of fish a year (i.e. estimating at a minimum production of 1 mt per hectare per year).

The Government of Nigeria is currently doing a great deal to encourage aquaculture development through the Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure. The Directorate has so far promoted the development of aquaculture by encouraging private investment in homestead fish ponds development, fish cage and pen culture development, and in fish pond culture development. In addition, States and Federal Fisheries Institutions have been given financial support for fish hatchery and fish feed mill development.

Since fish culture is basically a commercial venture, private investors are being encouraged to go into this business. Banks and commercial houses are currently showing interest in granting loans to prospective commercial fish farmers and at present interest in aquaculture as an investment is gradually increasing following the sudden decline in the poultry industry due to the high cost of feeds. Nigerian investors have been forced to explore new possibilities, particularly in animal husbandry and aquaculture. Aquaculture has attracted much interest on account of assumptions that there is limited risk in terms of mortality from natural sources, and that the feeding of fish is not as complicated as that of poultry and may not require imported feed concentrates with high foreign exchange needs. Based on these assumptions, some investors have plunged headlong into this new field of animal farming with little or no supporting information on its feasibility.

It is important to point out here that poultry technology was imported in its totality with all the technology packages brought into the country ready-made. Among such packages were: ready-made battery cages, production of day-old chicks, and assorted concentrates for young chicks, broilers and layers.

Unfortunately for Nigeria and other tropical countries, packages in aquaculture technology cannot be readily imported from temperate countries on account of the great differences in water temperature between the temperate and tropical countries and the adaptation of different fish species to water temperature conditions in the two regions of the world. However, as one of the developing countries of the world with an urgent need for increased protein supply, Nigerian investors are mostly interested in quick business for protein supply rather than in developing a technology.


The following discussion will highlight the major constraints on aquaculture development in Nigeria and suggest possible solutions to the problems with the objective of encouraging prospective national and international investors and financiers into the business.

Lack of technical manpower

Fish culture is a comparatively new science in Nigeria where traditional societies have not been identified with a long history of fish culture. Manpower for the industry is therefore developing only slowly. Moreover, training programmes organized outside the region in which the technology is needed are of limited application unless based on the species intended for culture in that region.

Even where appropriate training has been acquired, technical personnel in the discipline of aquaculture find it difficult to apply their knowledge in the field because of lack of facilities for practising their profession. Therefore, the knowledge acquired is gradually lost through lack of practice. Investors are constantly faced with the problem of hiring non-practising professionals only to be disappointed in the long run after a lot of damage has been done.

Trial and error approach

Some investors, either through frustration at not being able to identify suitable professionals or their reluctance to pay professionals for services requested, decide to plunge into the industry with a trial and error approach and consequent loss of capital.

Some of the commonest sources of error include:

Lack of, or poor feasibility study prior to the initiation of the project

The trial and error approach is often adopted by investors who want to evade paying for a proper feasibility report on the project. This category of investor has usually acquired excess capital from other investments and is anxious to explore new ground urgently, without much technical support data. They are often faced with committing one or the other of the errors listed earlier.

Sometimes, even where feasibility reports are commissioned they are contracted to non-professionals skilled in writing but with limited background information for achieving success. When the loan is finally obtained, the project is often poorly executed.

Limited source of inputs

The major inputs needed for a smooth initiation of the aquaculture industry are, in order of importance: seed, feed and fertilizers.

SEEDS: The following fish species are in common use in various parts of the country; tilapia, Clarias, Heterobranchus, common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and Heterotis niloticus.

Tilapia: This is the common name for the commonest group of species for aquaculture. There are three major species, Oreochrom is niloticus, Sarotherodon galilaeus and Tilapia zillii arranged in order of preference. Tilapia seeds are commonly available even from unskilled fish farmers though in limited quantities. They reproduce readily in captivity without much technical assistance and sometimes over-populate the ponds with resultant stunted growth. In spite of their prolific breeding habits, there is no ready source of their seeds for large scale fish farmers. Small scale fish farmers can readily obtain their supply from any farm where tilapia have earlier been stocked. There appears to be no ready source of supply of tilapia seeds in excess of 5,000 in any part of the country without an extended booking time.

Experiments have been conducted at the National Institute for Freshwater Fisheries Research (NIFFR) aimed at deriving standards for regular production of tilapia seeds. So far, it has been shown that it is possible to produce a minimum of 2,000 fry from a 100 m2 concrete pond every two weeks from 200 breeders using a sex ratio combination of one male to three females. About half the given number (1,000) can be produced in a 50 m2 concrete pond every two weeks using 100 breeders with the same sex ratio. Depending on the number of fingerlings needed and the stocking interval, a series of small breeding ponds can be developed to meet the needs of individual fish farmers for this species.

Clarias sp: Two fast growing species of Clarias are in common use in the country. These are Clarias gariepinus and Clarias anguillaris. Fish farmers in the country are in dire need of these species on account of their hardiness and fast growth. Their seeds are, however, not readily available to meet the needs of large scale fish farmers. Unlike tilapia, these species do not readily reproduce in captivity. Even when they do reproduce, the survival rate of the fry is so low that the fingerlings produced from a given size of pond may not be sufficient to restock the pond. A lot of wild fingerlings of these species are available from local sources during the dry season in stagnant pools of water along the floodplains of the Rivers Niger and Benue and their tributaries, and several other rivers. Supplies from the wild are also inadequate for meeting the needs of large scale farmers. Besides, in most cases, some stunted specimens are collected along with the fast growers and sold to farmers.

Some standards have been achieved at NIFFR for the production of Clarias fingerlings with a high survival rate. Two management systems are used:

An indoor management system which consists of four major activities: tank preparation for induced spawning with spawning mats; injection of ripe breeders and introduction into the prepared tanks; removal of breeders after spawning and aeration of the eggs; and management of the fry after hatching.

At NIFFR, the fry are managed in small aerated systems such as plastic bowls, troughs and concrete tanks with constant aeration and feeding, preferably at three hourly intervals with natural zooplankton collected from fertilized ponds, high protein concentrate (50% C.P) fish powder with very fine grains and artificially hatched Artemia. Indoor management continues for about two weeks prior to transfer to outdoor concrete tanks.

The outdoor management system uses concrete tanks of two sizes; a set of 5 × 5 × 1 m3 tanks and another set of 5 × 10 × 1 m3 tanks. The first set of tanks serves as fry nursery tanks, while the second set serves as fingerling nursery tanks. The fry are managed in the first set of tanks for about six to ten weeks before transferring to fingerling nursery tanks. Each fry tank has a carrying capacity of about 5,000 without aeration. The tanks are well fertilized and innoculated with zooplankton from a mature pond prior to the introduction of the fry. They are drained every two weeks to sort out the fast growers called “jumpers”. Estimated survival rate in fry tanks is about 40 – 70% with an average size of about one to three grams after ten weeks. The survival rate in fingerling tanks may be as high as 100%.

Heterobranchus bidorsalis: This species is in greater demand than Clarias because of its exceptionally high growth rate and late maturity. The fingerlings of this species are limited in supply even from wild sources. The breeders can be induced to spawn in the same way as Clarias with similar management procedures. Production of Heterobranchus has been initiated at the NIFFR hatchery and a few other hatcheries in the country.

Common carp (Cyprinus carpio): This is an exotic species that has adapted very well to Nigerian water conditions. The fingerlings of this species are available in limited quantities in various States in the country. Production of carp fingerlings has started at NIFFR. The indoor management is similar to that for Clarias but transfer to an outdoor system can be effected soon after the absorption of the yolk sac. Various outdoor tank sizes have been utilized for their management with a high survival rate.

Heterotis niloticus: This species like Heterobranchus is in very great demand because of their fast growth rate. A limited supply of fingerlings of this fish is available from wild sources. No artificially produced fingerlings of this species are so far available. At NIFFR, attempts have been made to produce Heterotis fingerlings from an artificially controlled reservoir by introducing mature breeders directly into the reservoir to spawn. Other species are then introduced when all the mature breeders must have spawned and the fingerlings have started moving in shoals. Under the wild production system, it has not been possile to quantify the number of fingerlings to be expected from each shoal of Heterotis fingerlings.

From the above discussion, it is evident that the aquaculture industry is faced with a serious problem of mass fingerling supply for any of the listed species. The easiest among them for seed production, i.e. tilapia and carp, have yet to be made available in sufficient quantities to serve the needs of the industry.

FISH FEEDS: Scarcity of fish feeds and the high cost of feed ingredients are possible constraints likely to be encountered by prospective investors. The carnivorous fish require high protein concentrate feeds, while herbivores feed on low protein feeds.

Pelleted feeds for carnivores such as Clarias and Heterobranchus under mono-culture should contain as much as 30–40% crude protein. The commonest sources of crude protein in the country are groundnut cake, soyabean cake, and fish meal. The first two are commonly available with prices ranging from $200.00 to $400.00 (N2,000 to N4,000) per tonne as at 1990. The basal carbohydrate ingredients include corn or guineacorn bran or meal, palm kernel cake, brewery and flour mill wastes, rice bran etc.

All these ingredients are difficult to acquire and are often highly priced when available. Their sources and availability must be ascertained prior to the initiation of the project. Carnivores can be combined with herbivores (tilapia mostly) in polyculture to control the population of tilapia. With this approach low protein concentrate feed with 18–25% crude protein could be used. If this is found to be uneconomical, rice bran and brewery waste could be used to supplement the diet of the tilapia while the carnivores would depend mostly on the excess population of the tilapia.

The herbivores, tilapia, carp and Heterotis depend heavily on bottom deposits rich in decayed organic matter from a well fertilized pond. These species can be cultured either in mono or polyculture. In either case, addition of a supplemental diet could lead to enhanced growth rate. Ideal stocking density should be used to prevent stunted growth.

In view of the high cost of both feed ingredients and compounded fish pellets, it is important to work out the economics of feeding under the different culture systems (poly or mono-culture) prior to the initiation of feeding. Pelleted feeds with crude protein levels ranging from 20 to 40% could vary in price from $200.00 to $500.00 per tonne as at 1990. The market price of the fish at harvest within the vicinity of the farm should be taken into consideration in the financial analysis. Currently tilapia sells for about $1.00 – 1.5 per kg while Clarias and Heterobranchus are sold at between $2.00 and $2.50 per kg (US dollars).

FERTILIZERS AND THEIR APPLICATION: Another major input that is often assumed to be available without prior identification of the source of supply is fertilizer for pond fertilization. Farmers are often so preoccupied with farm construction work that they utterly neglect major sources of input supply to the extent that when the ponds are finally completed they are left fallow for several months while the search for inputs continues. In the early eighties, when the poultry business was booming in Nigeria, with virtually every household keeping some birds in battery cages, it was possible to assume a ready source of poultry manure. Inorganic fertilizers from government sources were also available at subsidized rates to farmers, although difficult to obtain in commercial quantities.

Currently in Nigeria only a few big time farmers in urban centres with feed mills are able to keep up with the poultry business and it is therefore very necessary for prospective fish farmers to identify their sources of fertilizers prior to any investment in farm construction. Inorganic fertilizers that were sold for about $1.00 per 50 kg bag in the early eighties are now selling for about $10.00 and yet are not easy to come by. Migrant cattle rearers are found in virtually all parts of Nigeria, but cattle dung in large quantities can only be obtained from abattoirs with prior negotiation.

Besides availability, the knowledge of the application rates of fertilizers is not widely disseminated in Nigeria on account of lack of specific research oriented in this direction. The NIFFR is not yet in a position to carry out fertilizer trials on account of limitations in pond facilities for such experiments. In 1980 the author reviewed existing information on warm water aquaculture (Ita, 1980b) including fertilizer application rates. This publication, in the Technical Report Series of the Institute, has received wide circulation and the application rates reviewed in the report are widely used in this country. Another useful publication by the author that has been widely circulated as a Technical Report of the Institute is that on the “Principles and Practice of Integrated Commercial Fish Farming in Nigeria” in which the application rate of fertilizers is also reviewed (Ita, 1989). The following rates of application of organic and inorganic manures are currently in use in Nigeria.

Organic manure:

Inorganic fertilizers:

The following bibliographies were consulted for the above application rates in tropical ponds (Maar, 1966; Van der Lingen, 1960; C.T.F.T. (1972).

Species combinations and stocking density

Besides the lack of ready sources of seeds for stocking their ponds, commercial fish farmers are faced with the problem of pond management in regard to the right species combination for pond stocking and the density to be stocked. The commonest species for polyculture in the country are tilapia, carp, Clarias, Heterobranchus and Heterotis as earlier discussed. The species combination and stocking densities recommended in available literature sources in Africa have been widely circulated in the reports mentioned earlier (Ita, 1980b and 1989). The following combinations are recommended:

Useful bibliographies on species combination and stocking densities include, Bardach, (1972), Lovshin, (1974) and C.T.F.T. (unpublished report).

Size variation and poor recovery among cultured Clarias and Heterobranchus species

The commonest complaint among fish farmers in Nigeria is the size variation at harvest of Clarias and Heterobranchus despite initial uniform stocking sizes. This problem is more pronounced within the benthic fishes cultured locally than with carp, tilapia and Heterotis and is not unconnected with the fact that improved broodstocks of benthic species have not yet been produced in Nigeria. The Institute has initiated research in this direction. Improved red tilapia hybrids with a reputedly rapid growth have been imported into the country but have not yet been acquired by the Institute. However, the Institute is working hard to produce hybrids of the local species of tilapia together with sex reversed all-male tilapia for sale to farmers.

The problem of population depletion at harvest among Clarias and Heterobranchus can only be solved by stocking uniform sizes of fingerlings not less than 10 – 20 g on average. Because of the problem of scarcity of fingerlings, farmers in dire need of fingerlings are usually ready to buy those weighing 5 g or less. At this size, the Clarias are unable to catch the fast moving tilapia fingerlings and therefore engage in canibalism, with the fast growers eating up the slow growers. Hence, the farmer is likely to harvest a few relatively big specimens and some small ones far below the original stocking density. Sometimes, only about 20% recovery or less would be achieved. This can constitute a very big problem in a commercial fish farm where projection of production is often based on the initial number of fingerlings stocked.

It is easily predictable, based on experience from the culture of improved varieties of carp, that even when improved broodstocks of Clarias and Heterobranchus are available in the market, the problem of low recovery and slow initial growth rate will still be prevalent for one reason or the other, but mainly because of the carnivorous habit of these species, predation by frogs and inadequate supplementary feeding. Stocking of small fingerlings of Clarias and Heterobranchus in small reservoirs and ponds with low dikes should also be avoided because of infiltration by wild adult specimens which could cause considerable damage to the stocked population.

Integrated fish/piggery/arable farming system

The Institute is currently investigating the feasibility of integrated farming systems. We had earlier initiated a simple integrated fish cum poultry farming system, until the high cost of poultry feeds made it impossible to break even. It was realized that pigs could be fed exclusively on locally available ingredients such as maize, soya bean, groundnut cake and waste from the local grain and yam mills.

Farmers planning to obtain bank loans for integrated commercial fish farming are advised to aim at a minimum of 3 hectares for the first development phase, allowing scope for expansion to five or more hectares. The larger the farm, the greater the economic prospects. This is more so now in Nigeria than ever before because of the escalated prices of inputs. For example, a pick-up van, a very useful farm vehicle for the transport of all farm materials, now sells for about $18,000 (U.S. dollars). The same vehicle was sold for less than N$1,000 a few years ago. Fish production cannot be increased indefinitely from the same pond area to meet the cost of such inflation. At the present level of technology in pond culture in Nigeria, a production of 2 to 4 tonnes per hectare per year would be highly commendable given the inadequacy of input supplies such as fertilizers, feed and fingerlings.

Table 30 shows a financial analysis for a 5 ha fish farm with the development of all the 5 hectares for fish during the first year of operation, and the utilization of the remaining land area for arable and pig husbandry.

The financial feasibility of these farming systems shows that the capital input for the fish farm although extremely high (Table 30) could be off-set by the high returns on investment from piggery farming with low initial capital input (Table 31). Farming for the various feed ingredients is also a feasible project (Table 32) even though the products are ploughed back into fish and piggery feeds. A comprehensive technical report on the financial prospects of this farming system has been published (Ita, 1989).

The combined financial projection for integrated fish cum piggery cum crop production (Table 33) shows very good prospects for return on the investment. Crops such as maize, groundnut and soyabean are utilized for fish and piggery feeds while proceeds from rice and cowpea could be utilized for purchase of additional feed ingredients such as palm kernel cake, more maize and groudnut cake. It may be possible to generate some income from the piggery unit during the first year of operation if the infrastructure is completed on schedule.

An integrated model has recently been developed for rural farmers under a scheme called “Fisheries for Rural Development”. The rural model consists essentially of a homestead fish pond with a surface area of about 0.04 ha (400 m2). The pond should be earthen and located near a stream where the soil and water supply are suitable. The piggery house is made of a concrete floor with thick mud walls. The pen is about 400–800 m2, constructed with sticks erected close together, reinforced with a laterite base and further tied with Indian bamboo arranged horizontally and held in position with binding wires. The pen is expected to cater for four parent stock breeder pigs consisting of one male and three females. The farmland measuring about 0.5–1.0 ha is to be planted with arable crops namely, maize and soya bean.

Table 30. Financial analysis for the development of a 5-hectare fish farm in Nigeria.

 ParticularsCost (Naira)
 Capital input 
  1.Land acquisition @ N1000/ha (10ha)10.000.00
  2.Land survey @ N1000/ha (10ha)10,000.00
  3.Farm design production2,000.00
  4.Land clearence @ N5000/ha (10ha)50,000.00
  5.Pond development 
i)4ha production ponds @ N4000/ha
ii)1 ha breeding and nursery ponds @ N50000/ha
  6.Small farm house and store40,000.00
  7.Water pump and hose5,000.00
  8.Second hand reconditioned pick-up van30,000.00
  9.Small boat and drag net10,000.00
10.Miscellaneous farm equipment  10,000.00
 Recurrent Input 
  1.Fingerlings 40,000 @ 50k each20,000.00
  2.Feeds 10 tonnes @ N2500/ton25,000.00
  3.Fertilizers (organic/inorganic)5,000.00
  4.Vehicle and pump maintenance and running cost10,000.00
  5.Salary of farm Superintendent10,000.00
  6.Guards (2)6,000.00
  7.Fishermen/Labour (2)6,000.00
  9.Miscellaneous expenditure  10,000.00
Grand Total
 Income from Sales (2nd Year)Income (Naira)
  1.Eight tonnes of tilapia @ N10000/tonne80,000.00
 2.Twelve tonnes of Clarias & carp @ N15000/ton180,000.00
 Total Income 2nd Year260,000.00

NB: 1.00 U.S.dollar is equivalent to N10.00 (1989–90)

Table 31. Financial analysis for a piggery unit to provide organic manure for the fish farm and also supplement the income.

1.Building and fencing for 200 pigs (1ha)100,000.00  
2.Equipment and materials10,000.00
3.Food ingredients20,000.00
4.Foundation stock of pigs (200)50,000.00
6.Medication and miscellaneous expenses10,000.00
 Expected production: 
 1200 pigs from 120 females @ N200.00/pig240,000.00  

Source: Ita (1989)
NB: $1.00 U.S.dollar= N10.00

Both the piggery and the pond need not be sited near the residential area but where practicable, the farmland and other components of the project could be sited within the same location. Alternatively, the farmland could be located wherever suitable land is found, provided the cost of transport does not constitute a constraint on the production cost.

Capital inputs, consisting of pond excavation, construction of inflow and drainage facilities, housing unit for the piggery, parent stock of pigs and seeds, amounted to about N10,000 (US$1,000). The recurrent cost made up of fish seeds, medication for the pigs and land preparation, planting, weeding, harvesting and processing, amounted to about $300. This brings the total investment to about US$1,300 (i.e. N13,000).

Production and income figures during the second year of operation amounted to about US$1,150 made up of $600,00 from the sale of 30 piglets, produced from 3 females farrowing twice within the year and raised for about 6 months before sale, at $20 each. About $300 is realized from the sale of 200 kg of fish produced and sold at about $1.50/kg and $250 is realized from the production of maize and soya bean used in the preparation of fish and piggery feeds.

Although the project operates at a loss during the second year of operation, on account of the high capital investment, subsequent years show a promising output with high profit margins in the absence of capital inputs.

This model has been recommended for inland states where there are no religious inhibitions on the consumption of pork meat. The country is blessed with abundant inland water bodies most of which are located in the rural areas. These water bodies should be the focal points for this type of investment which is within the range of loans ($2,500) currently granted by the Directorate of Employment to self employed graduates and other graduates from post-secondary institutions in Nigeria. It could also be adopted by international donor agencies interested in rural development in developing countries.

Table 32. Financial analysis for arable farming to support an integrated commercial fish and piggery farming system (Ita, 1989). (N.B.Nk= Naira × 1000)

1 ha (Nk)
Soya bean
1 ha (Nk)
1 ha (Nk)
1 ha (Nk)
1 ha (Nk)
Land preparation2501502501502501,050
Herbicide/manual weeding8008008001,0008004,200
Herbicide application5050505050250
Planting cost2005002005002001,600
Fertilizer application100--100-200
Transportation etc.2002002002002001,000
Total input2,6003,0002,7003,7002,70014,700
Expected yield2 tonnes2 tonnes1.5 tonnes2 tonnes1.5 tonnes 
Expected income4,0006,0004,5004,8004,50023,800


Aquaculture, basically a commercial venture, is a comparatively new investment opportunity in Nigeria. It is likely to experience a slow pace of development on account of the high initial development requirements, the need for adequate site selection and the fact that most prospective investors in agri-business do not often consider the possibility of incorporating fish farming into their business prior to the acquisition of land. Also, the return from aqua-business is often slow on account of the extended construction phase, often interrupted by lack of adquate heavy construction equipment and the problem of using heavy equipment in water-logged areas. The fear of inadequate sources of input supply is also likely to scare away prospective investors in Nigeria.

In spite of these constraints, dedicated investors with some personal commitment to the success of their projects are bound to succeed. Investors who are only interested in checking the balance sheet of the project account without showing a personal interest in the farm management to identify the problems are advised to keep away from aqua-business for fear of possible disappointment.

The speedy development of commercial fish farming in Nigeria is the only foreseeable short-term solution to increasing fish production in the country. Under a profit-oriented management system, production could be increased to about 3 mt per hectare per year or even more. Therefore, if a minimum of 100 private fish farmers are in operation in each of the 500 Local Government Areas of the country, a total production of over 300,000 mt of fish could be attained annually from this source, assuming that each farmer cultivates a minimum of 3 hectares. Subsistence or homestead fish farming, although useful, cannot meet the national demand on account of the relatively small areas under cultivation.

Table 33. Combined financial projection for integrated fish-cum-piggery-cum-crop production (Ita, 1989)

ParticularsYear 1Year 2Year 3Year 4Year 5Year 6Year 7Total
i) Fish farm404,000105,00071,00068,00075,00087,00090,000900,000
ii) Piggery200,00050,00040,00040,00050,00050,00050,000480,000
iii) Crop14,00015,00015,00015,00015,00015,00015,000104,700
Total expenditure618,700170,000126,000123,000140,000152,000155,0001,484,700
i) Fish farm-260,000305,000320,000320,000352,000360,0001,321,000
ii) Piggery-240,000250,000255,000260,000265,000270,0001,540,000
iii) Crop23,80022,00023,00024,00025,00026,00027,000170,800
Net income before loan repayment(594,900)352,000452,000476,000465,000491,000502,0002,738,000
Loan repayment @ 40% of income-140,800180,800190,400186,000196,400200,8001,095,200
Net income before tax-211,200271,200285,600279,000294,600301,2001,642,800
Income tax (25%)-82,80087,80071,40069,75073,65075,300410,700
Net income after tax-158,400203,400214,200209,250220,950225,9001,232,100
Cummulative loan repayment-140,800321,600512,000698,000894,4001,095,200-

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