Catfish farmers in Lagos are rattled by the paradox of spontaneous hike in the price of fish feed and falling price of their products.
Some fish farmers told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos that the situation, which had forced many farmers to close shops, had discouraged the production of fishes above one kilogramme for fear of being under priced.
Mr George Onwubiko, a fish farmer at Ijegun, a suburb of Lagos, said it was ironical that the price of fish was falling at a time prices of the feed were going up.
Onwubiko, who described the situation as frustrating, said it was becoming out of fashion for farmers to raise fish till they attained one kilogramme.
According to him, most farmers only raise their fishes for two months or three months and sell to buyers who dry them for the market.
Mr Friday Opia, who owns a farm at Ijeododo, another suburb of Lagos, said lovers of big catfish, commonly called `point and kill’, might have to look for alternatives due to high cost of production.
Opia said that fish farmers were now disenchanted by the business as they were making loses at the end of every harvest season.
He said that a kilogramme of fish could be in the pond for several weeks after attaining maturity as few buyers were coming for them.
For Mrs Helen Ajose, the future of catfish farming lied on producing the average sizes for smoking.
According to her, the average size is in high demand, especially for those selling smoked fish at the popular Oyingbo Market.
She said farmers, who produce the smoking size, had no fear of selling them at harvest.
The farmer said that when the price of a kg of fish meal, an important component for compounding feed was N850 in February, the price of a kilogramme of fish was sold between N800 and N900.
“It is, however, strange that when a kilogramme of fish meal now sells for about N950, a kg of fish goes for N800 or even less, depending on the size,’’ she said.
NAN reports that most of the farms that hitherto raised catfish to table size had closed shop due to the high cost of feed amidst falling fish prices.