According to Brigadier General Saidu Olasupo (retired), deputy coordinator of fish farmers in the state, Kwara State is the top producer of catfish in Nigeria, with farmers claiming that no less than 45 tonnes of fish loaded into buses leave the state each day.
At the state fish farmers’ meeting on Thursday in Ilorin, the state capital, Olasupo told reporters that every day, no less than 30 buses carrying 1.3 tonnes of catfish each left the state.
The retired Army officer who said that many young people in Kwara State had taken up fish farming also noted that they make a significant economic contribution.
Olasupo, who claimed to have transitioned into fish farming after leaving the military, said that Kwara state produces more catfish than any other state in Nigeria and is ranked 10th in all of Africa.
He said, “Currently, we have 35 clusters and each of the clusters has a minimum of 50 registered members.
“Our contributions which are both tangible and intangible- to the economy of the state are huge. Each day we have nothing less than 30 buses loaded with fish and each with a load of about 1.3 tonnes moving out of Kwara.
There is no family directly or indirectly that is not affected by this business that we are doing. Take the value chain for instance. We have fish food millers, major distributors, minor distributors and even Olam Company, etc.”
Speaking on the challenges facing the farmers, Olasupo said, “There is no business without challenges. There are challenges with the farmers themselves as well as the buyers of the product.
“The skyrocketing rise in the pump price of automotive gas oil (Diesel), premium motor spirit (Petrol) otherwise known as petrol or even the engine oil. Of course, if the inputs go up, it is expected that the price of production will go up.
“However, the cost of production or inputs is going up, but the increase in the price of the final fish itself is not commensurate with the spiral rise in the prices of those inputs.”
For coordination and effectiveness, he said that “fish farmers started registration with the state Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development last year. Very soon we will have huge data that will be known to the government. This will enable the government to take informed decisions on how to help the fish farmers.”
Olasupo, however, appealed to the government to come to the aid of fish farmers especially by subsidising inputs needed by the farmers and adequate provision of water from its dams as the success of fish farming depends majorly on the availability of water.