After conducting a research on how fish farmers can increase their stock and profit, three youths have designed a continuous-water pond model to develop aquaculture business ,WALE AJETUNMOBI reports.
They are young but have a passion for a job many youths don’t want todo. While many of their peers are looking for white-collar jobs, they are investing their energies in growing and creating business opportunities for others in fish farming.
George Chagoury, Abdulsamad Edewor and Tobi Ashafa floated Ecopond, a company that is providing technological know how to help fish farmers maximise profits by helping them to increase fish production with the use of Ecoponds 0.5 technology.
For three years, these young men conducted a research on how fish farmers could increase their stock every week as against two months by fish farmers using still-water ponds.
They built a continuous-water tank model with five compartments to rear cat fish and tilapia. Each section of the tank has capacity for 8,000 seeds and their weights are not more than 10 grammes. Clear water flows continuously in all the compartments, which makes the model less vulnerable to diseases that can kill the fishes.
Explaining the working of the model, Chagoury, an engineer, who conducted our correspondent round the facility in Ikorodu, noted that the technology was necessitated by the increasing demand for fishes in the market. He said consumers needed not to wait for months before they could buy fishes from a fish farmer. â€œThere is no way a still-water model can produce stock for periodic sales because of lack of proper production plan,he added.
He said: After the first five months, users of the Ecoponds 0.5 technology can start to produce fishes in an interval of two weeks because the model allows fishes to grow faster than any other model.
Given the fact that cat fishes of the same age and weight do not have the same growth rate in a given tank, Chagoury said this fact made the continuous-water ponds profitable because it makes production of adult fishes possible in two weeks interval while more fishes will grow two weeks after the mature ones are harvested.
This model is a new trend all over the world and we felt that Nigeria should not lag behind. Farmers that use still-water method have low tonnage of fishes for sale in the market compared to a process like this. Secondly, still-water pollutes the environment because the water being used is not treated and is discharged into the environment just that way, he said.
Chagoury explained that the beauty of the continuous-water model makes aquaculture business more profitable with its maintenance of a good management standard and sharing of water in the ponds from different sources to prevent diseases that can kill fishes.
He identified challenges facing fish farming in the country to include lack of proper management standard, dearth of good seeds (hatchlings) and good feeds (right food formula for fishes). He noted that if aquaculture business could be managed well, and fish farmers had good seeds and feeds, the business would be more profitable.
On why many fish farmers still cannot switch to the continuous-water model despite its profitability, Chagoury said inability of farmers to access funds from retail banks to do business left the sector in the doldrums.
People running still-water model cannot grow their businesses any more than the level because diseases kill fishes they could have sold to make more profit. Although, the continuous-water is expensive but it is something fish farmers can afford if they have access to loan. But no bank wants to make funds available to develop this sector. This is why government must help these farmers by setting up aquacultural bank to inject funds into the sector,he explained.
He also urged the government to regulate fish farming sector, saying market had been awash with fishes that carry several diseases.