Nigeria’s catfish farmers consolidated their unification following a meeting earlier this month at the Obasanjo Conference Centre at Abeokuta, Osun State.
The event was in part organised to help heal the rift between the Catfish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFAN) and the Catfish and Allied Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFFAN) – both of which pledged to reunify this summer. During the event former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, who founded CAFAN, cut a “Unity Cake” and shared it among the leaders of the two former factions, to loud applause from delegates.
Obasanjo called on the farmers to fuse their processes, plans and structures together before selecting leaders. He said that it was extremely important to bring together all stakeholders in the aquaculture value chain. He also said that “farmers are cheated when we don’t add value to what we produce, so that we can maximise what we get for our labour”.
The President of the Fisheries Society of Nigeria, Dr. Lukman Adegoke, called for the “synchronization of sales”, to deal with the current situation, in which prices are dictated by middlemen. “We need to avoid the situation where farmers are rushing their produce to the market. We need to develop a quota system which will stabilise the prices of fish on the market. Only fish farmers must dictate the prices of fish,” he urged. He also called for the extension of the backward integration policy which saw Triton and other fish importing companies entering fish farming and feed production.
On the agitation by farmers for government action on the export of smoked fish, he advised farmers to pay attention to product quality. “A major problem is residue monitoring. If your farm is not certified, your products cannot be exported,” he noted. He therefore called for the development of local certification groups to make the job of the national certification authority easier.
Prospects for diversification
One intriguing presentation was by fish farming trainer and consultant Israel “Mr Fish” Ademuyiwa, who argued the sector should diversify into pangasius, pacu, African bony tongue and African carp.