I have all the resources to do fish farming and I am highly interested, but marketing and them when they reach maturity is my fear. How do I solve this? I am happy that you are interested and you have the necessary resource then marketing is not a problem at all.
As a beginner, all you need do is to start small, associate with those who have been in the business before and always carry your consultant along.
All these will link you up with available marketing your fish most especially if they carried along from the beginning.
Factors that Cause you to Sell Your Catfishes Untimely
It has been observed that selling catfishes before due time always result in a loss especially when the fishes sold are under three month old. Many fish farmers are the architect of their own failure. They plan to fail even at the onset of their business.
Those essential aspects of their business that should be monitored are left at the mercy of chances. As far as I am concerned, planning is everything in catfish farming.
You might need to plan the number of times to stock and harvest in a year, number of fishes to stock based on your financial capacity, type of feed to use and many more critical areas of fish farming. Here are seven major factors that can cause you to sell before an appointed time:
- Poor financial planning is the number one factor that can make you sell your fishes when you are not ready to sell. As you know, your fishes need to get to maturity before you can make good profit on them. Ensure you are 100 percent financially ready before you stock. If you are taking a loan, ensure your account is credited before you start up. Your plan should be prepared based on the number of fishes the available capital can feed. It is not how far but how well. There was a time I stocked 3,000 catfishes and made more profit than a friend that stocked above 12,000 pieces of juvenile.
- Some farmers will stock under poor pond condition with the hope of effecting necessary correction after a season. However, total collapse of the pond mid-season could make them sell before necessary. Once a repair is required on the pond, please do before you stock. Delay could be dangerous. A drainage that needs to be cleared must be cleared now. Strengthen all dikes that need repair. You never can predict nature unless you want to sell the remnant of your fishes after flood due to a powerful rainfall.
- Health related issues like cracked head, mortalities, etc, have made many catfish farmers to sell their stock untimely. To some extent, farmers can prevent catfish diseases. Pond preparation is a must. Also water and feed must be monitored adequately to avoid diseases that could force you to sell when you are not ready. Get prepared for unforeseen health challenges and apply the right control measure as I suggest in my article on cure for catfish mortality.
- There was a time catfish farmers encountered shortage and scarcity of feeds and feed ingredients. Many were forced to sell their stock due to this problem. Planning the feed of your stock will not be a bad idea. At present, scarcity of feeds of lower sizes in the market could cause hatchers to sell untimely.
- Failure to secure your pond from theft with appropriate security technique can cause you to sell before time. Ensure you plan how to secure your pond as you plan to stock. Do not wait till your fishes are stolen before you are forced to sell untimely.
- Many opt to sell their stock before due time based on market information. Some farmers rush to sell their fishes upon market information that price of table size will fall. Do not rush to sell because some market information could be far from the truth. You could lose more when you sell before your fishes get to maturity.
Other factors that could make you sell untimely include flood, expiration of rent, overstocking, etc.
How to Market your Matured Fishes
The fish farmer can market his stock via word of mouth and advertisement. The farmer can use the various advertisement platforms like television, radio, or news papers.
They can also use printed media like handbills, posters, billboards and leaflets. The major thing is for potential buyers to know the table fish is available for sale.
1) Processed or live catfish
The fish farmer can sell his fish either processed or live or both. The method depends on the market and farmers capacity. The fish farmer can process the smaller fish in his stock into smoked fish and sell to market women or individuals.
Another way is to make the fish into barbecue, steamed fish or boiled fish pepper soup. For this method you need to have an outlet such as a bar or restaurant. You can sell your live fish either in bulk or singly to individual buyers.
Ways to sell your stock
2) Bulk sales
The major way catfish farmers sell their stock is in bulk to market women. There are market women who specialize in catfish farming and buy the fish in bulk.
In turn they sell retail to individuals at high sums making large profit. The market women make huge profit more than the fish farmer who earns based on size and quantity sold.
To make appreciable earnings the fish farmer should sell his stock at current market price per kilogram. The price per kilogram in 2015 in Lagos Nigeria is 500 Naira so knowig the current price gives you an edge over the hard bargaining fish sellers.
3) Sell retail
Selling retail will guarantee huge earnings because you are in full control of your sales. You can sell to individuals either by size or weight depending on your preference.
It might take time selling retail but you end up smiling all the way to the bank. If you decide on this method you can find your customers in various ways.
Use handbills and posters including banners to let your neighbors know you have fish for sale. Word of mouth is also very important, local paper publications and small bill boards.
4) Employ a fish seller
Employing a fish seller is a smart way to offer your sales to potential customers. You get top price for your fish and make good earnings. The drawback to this method is capital loss form deceitful vendors who might cheat their employers.
Read Also: How to Control Cannibalism among Fishes
5) Open an outlet
If you are not averse to selling your own stock in the open market then you’ll make massive profit. Selling your stock yourself takes care of all aspects from production to sales.
6) Sell to restaurants and bars
Restaurants and bars sell catfish to their customers as pepper soup or barbecued. They source the fish from fish farmers and middlemen and are able to pay reasonably for the fish.
A fish farmer can build relationship with such outlets to supply them the fish. The farmer can own a barbecue or pepper soup outlet in such establishments.
Some restaurants and bars allow food vendors pay monthly sums for a space in their establishment.. The catfish farmer can leverage on this ready market to sell his fish.
7) Sell abroad
You can process you catfish, package and sell the fish via export it to buyers. Before you export your fish you need to have a buyer, and package them according to strict export requirement.
You need to prevent contaminants getting into your fish, get export license and follow government regulations. Exportation is tough but highly rewarding if you succeed.
8) Fish farmers that only produce fingerlings
Breeders of catfish have a different market than growers. The breeders only have one market which is selling to small and large scale fish farmers.
They get customers by word of mouth, advertisement in newspapers and posters. They can also deposit handbills to catfish feed sellers for farmers who buy their feed concentrate.
Why You Should Wait For Your Fishes to Mature
As a result of poor financial planning and other factors which might include flooding, theft, poor growth, disease outbreak and so on, many farmers might decide to sell their grow-out fishes before they reach maturity. Among the factors mentioned earlier, poor financial planning often makes the farmer to sell before their stock matures.
They believe that if they will not be able to feed their catfishes, the best option is to sell them off so that they will not lose the initial weight gained. Each farmer should have in mind, right from the beginning of raising their fishes, the time he or she wants to dispose his or her produce. The determination of each farmer should be guided by these two factors:
- Target market for the fish
- Maturity period of the species being raised
The “market” mentioned here may not be understood by non-fish farmers or sellers. However, in simple language, fish markets are in different categories. Each category is defined by the size of fishes expected in such market. There are four major fish markets across Nigerian environment, they are:
- Extra Large Fish Market (called Onitsha Market in Nigeria): It is one of the regional fish markets where extra large fishes are sold. The fishes sold here are mainly average of 2.4kg and above. It takes an average of 6 – 9 months to achieve this size.
- Large Fish Market (called Abuja Market in Nigeria): This is by far the largest catfish market in Nigeria. It can be categorized as the national catfish depot where people from almost every part of the country shop for their catfishes and catfishes are even exported in dry forms to Europe and America. This market permits all sizes of fishes; big, medium, small, smallest, etc. It takes an average of between 4 ½ months and 6 months to achieve these sizes.
- Local Markets (township markets): This market is situated in and around towns and cities where catfishes are raised. It is termed local market because catfish sellers in these towns buy directly from local producers to sell to their numerous customers (catfish lovers) within the town. Sizes sold in this market ranges from 500 to 900 grams; four months of intensive feeding will give these sizes.
- Dry Fish Market: A farmer produces for dry fish market when the size of his fish is not more than 500 grams at the time of harvest. It takes between 3 – 4 months to achieve this size depending on the species of the fish stocked.
From experience, it has been observed that bigger is always better for catfish markets. At this point, I would like to suggest that a farmer should allow his fishes to reach mature age of at least five months. This will enable him to benefit in the following ways:
- Get the best from the fish feed formula: The hypothesis behind this point is simple. Small catfishes require much protein to grow well. The crude protein required ranges from between 42 – 45% of their feed intake. The same protein requirement could drop to as low as 35% in grow-out fishes of 1kg and above. The higher the crude protein of your feed, the higher the cost of feed produced, hence it is suggested that farmers should wait to maximize the right benefit from their feed formulation.
- Get the best from the size of fish: Another benefit of leaving your fishes for at least five months is to achieve better returns as a result of improved sizes. Bigger catfishes cost more per kg than smaller ones – especially in Nigeria. The following is the current price list as at the time of this report:
|2.5kg and above||N550/kg|
|1.6kg to 2.4kg||N520/kg|
|1 to 1.5kg||N520/kg|
|600grams to 1kg||N430/kg|
Source: Market Survey February 2016.
- Get the best from bone weight: catfishes get better and denser bone weight as their age advances. Allowing the fishes to reach mature age of 5 months will allow the farmer to get the best from their mature bone structure which will add to their weight since catfish markets is a weight market.
For any farmer to benefit from catfish maturity, he or she must wait. However, some catfish species mature earlier, say 4 months, while others mature late (5 months and above).
For catfishes that mature in 4 months, there is no point keeping them for more than 4 months because keeping them beyond this age will amount to waste of money.
Here are more amazing fish farming books to guide and assist you further: