Young entrepreneur strikes gold in fish farming

Catfish business is helping young Nigerians to earn extra income and put more food on the table, as typified by Abiodun Eniola, who runs a fishery business, raising catfish. DANIEL ESSIET reports.

If there is an entrepreneur recording success in fisheries business, Abiodun Eniola is one. Life has changed dramatically for him since he took up fish farming. Staying focused, he has grown his aquaculture business in the same way nature grows a tree.

He studied Urban and Regional Planning from the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, where he obtained in HND (distinction).

“ I did my Post-Graduate Diploma in the same course at Yaba College of Technology in 2011. I got into agribusiness (catfish farming specifically) six months after my National Youth Service around June 2008.”

Going into fish farming was not his first preference as a vocation. Like any other youth of his age, Eniola had dreamt of securing a job. Despite his good result, he could not bag any. Instead of losing patience, he tried his luck in fish farming.

His words: “    The idea came through my inability to secure a white collar job after my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). I was offered a job in a poultry and catfish farm as a poultry attendant. I discovered that I was more passionate taking care of catfish more than laying birds in our farm. My passion led me to seek for more knowledge outside what I was taught an our farm. I worked in that farm for more than six years and my highest salary ever was N25,000, probably because I was not a professional in the field of agriculture. Yet I needed to earn more to meet my rising expenditure.”

He  started with N200,000, being his entire life savings.   He felt confident that he could get back the investment within two years. Today, the business is big with three direct and up to seven other indirect staff. He has 15 ponds.He is happy, working hard to take care of the fish so they grow quickly from baby fish into large fish that people can eat.

With more than eight  years’ experience in the business, Eniola said fish farming business is profitable.

”I was also privileged to get information on expenditure and Income of the farm. I concluded that catfish farming is more profitable than poultry, easier to set up and requires minimum fixed capital.”

He is proud of his accomplishment so far. He said: ‘’I remember when there was bountiful harvest in crop farming. I was able to get my input at cheaper rate and I was able to make around 140 per cent in one season (six months).” To be a successful fish farmer, he gave the business  all it required.  ” I work extremely hard….I work 365 days every year. My work is also a way of relaxation for me’’.

Besides being a successful entrepreneur, he has become an inspiration to other fish farmers. People come to him for expertise and assistance, both in terms of technique and finance.

But the success story has not been without challenges. He recalled: “   I could remember when I was in a hurry to stock my ponds; I ended up with poor quality juvenile from an unknown supplier. I paid dearly for my impatience. I will rather wait for months to have quality seed than wasting the whole season raising fishes that will not do well.”

Like small scale entrepreneurs,, he faced significant barriers in entering new markets, such as securing financing and learning how to responsibly grow the business.

A major challenge he faced was the high cost of fish-feed, which takes up nearly 60 per cent of the production cost in fish farming.

In 10 years’ time, he sees the business going international… beyond the nation’s border. His is passionate about feeding people who are hungry and giving people who do not have an opportunity to have a job or create a business that could support their families.

His hard work, enthusiasm to learn the new technologies, and the interest to share his experience with novices inching to enter into the aqua culture, make him differ from other farmers. He advises young entrepreneurs to pursue their passion because that is the key to their success.

He also runs training to impart his knowledge on aqua culture to other farmers, especially starters to the sector. The corporate package he offers  includes giving initial advice to the farmer, constructing the ponds, managing the ponds, harvesting and marketing the fish. They realised that many farmers fail because they lack professional guidance and proper management.

One of  his mentees is Bamidele Onibalusi, a frontline writing consultant.

His words: “I first got into catfish farming in 2014 when my teacher,Mr. Abiodun Eniola, told me about the prospects of catfish farming and how profitable it has been for him. I was looking for businesses with good profit potential, and that I can easily scale, at the time so I was naturally excited when he recorded as much as 100 per cent profit in a season (usually six months), several times since starting his catfish farming business. I got into catfish farming because I could see returns within a relatively short time (six months), and I can gradually scale my business to succeed without much supervision from me. I started my catfish farming with about 11,000 fishes. I made some mistakes and recorded some losses in the early stage, but I’ve since learned from my losses and things have been better.”

He said  catfish farming is profitable. “ Yes, catfish farming is a sustainable business. Even though I had a loss during my first attempt, I learned from experience — by getting good juveniles, carefully monitoring feed I give my fishes, and ensuring my fishes are properly cared for. As a result, baring any uncontrollable disasters (such as flood or disease outbreak), my business has been profitable. I’m gradually expanding my catfish farming business, and my farm currently employs about four to five people at any given time. If one can understand the system, especially how to use locally available ingredients instead of expensive imported materials, catfish farming can be a very profitable and sustainable business. ”

He rears up to 20,000 fishes, which grow up to one to two kilogramme before harvest.

He wants to enlighten farmers that they could make money from the trade as well as improve their diet as fish is highly nutritious.

The post Young entrepreneur strikes gold in fish farming appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.

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