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The study accessed the economic analysis of (ClasiaGariePinus) catfish production by rural farmers in AkwaIbom State, Nigeria. The specific objectives of the study were to identify the socio-economic characteristics of rural fish farmers; identify the production systems/types of ponds used by the respondents: evaluate the costs and returns in catfish productionand estimated the factors influencing catfish production in the study area. Data were obtained from 60 catfish farmers using a multistage sampling techniques and analysed using Descriptive and influential statistics on OLS and budgetary techniques involving net farm income (NFI). The result shows that 23.33% of respondents were single while 76.67% were married and the mean age of respondents was 42.33. Cost and returns on catfish production was N872,748.83 for 2,050 catfish being 91.18% while fix cost accounted for 8.8% of the overall production cost. Factors influencing farmers profitability of catfish was highly significant (P<0.01) while the R² value of 70.25% which indicates a positive and significant level of profitability in the study area. It is therefore recommended that catfish production be encouraged since it’s profitable.





1.1 Background Information

Nigeria’s socio-economic history and development have been closely tied to the agricultural sector, judging from its critical role in employment and revenue generation as well as in the provision of raw materials for industrial development in the last 40 years. Hitherto, the agricultural sector used to be the dominant contributor to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), contributing about 40 % of the GDP in the last two decades but has now been diluted by other sectors such as finance, construction and entertainment services. The agricultural sector now contributes about 25.51% of the country’s GDP (National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 2015). 

The potential for the agricultural sector in securing incomes, employment and food supply has greatly reduced due to low agricultural productivity. Thus, there has been a widening food supply- demand gap, widespread poverty and increasing unemployment rate in the country. According to recent NBS report, unemployment rate in Nigeria has increased from 8.2% in 2014 to 9.9% in 2015 (NBS, 2016).  Also, Nigeria’s population has doubled in the last 30 years from 80 million in 1982 to 165 million in 2012, and is projected to reach 450 million by 2050 (Adesina, 2012).

Nigeria, having been placed at 152nd position on the Human Development Index in 2015 with 68.0 percent of its population living below 1.25 Dollars per day, has consequently been classified as poor and food insecure country (UNDP, 2015). Feeding the growing population is, however, a challenge. This is because, even though Nigeria is endowed with substantial natural resources which include; 68 million hectares of arable land, fresh water resources covering about 12 million hectares, 960 kilometers of coastline and ecological diversity that could enable the country produce a wide variety of crops and livestock, forestry and fisheries products, she finds herself in the group of low income, and food deficient countries. This implies that the country has not been able to harness her vast natural resources for sustainable agricultural development (Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, 2011). In an effort to revitalize Nigeria’s agriculture, the federal government has come out with various programme and policies and, recently, plans to increase agriculture’s share of commercial banks’ credit by 10 percent as it seeks to cut food imports (Adesina, 2014). On its diversity, Nigeria’s agriculture features tree and food crops, forestry, livestock and fisheries.

Fishery is an important sector in the economic development of many developed and developing countries. Fisheries and aquaculture (the rearing of fish and other aquatic organisms in ponds, reservoirs, cages, or other enclosures in lakes and coastal waters Njoku, 2006) is a source not just of health but also of wealth. Fish farming (pisciculture) is a branch of aquaculture which deals with the breeding, rearing, and transplanting of fish by artificial means (FAO, 2008). The most commonly cultured species of fish in Nigeria include: catfish (Clarias gariepinus), tilapia (Oreochromisniloticus) and carp (Cyprinuscarpio). Many farmers focus on catfish as they are hardy and can survive different culture systems and diverse environments, grow very fast, have low bone content, high fecundity, improved survival of fry and adapt to supplemental feed (Adediran, 2002; Osawe, 2004). Also, catfish has superior value of two or three times that of tilapia (FAO, 1993).

Employment in the fishery sector has grown faster than the world’s population. The sector provides jobs to tens of millions and supports the livelihoods of hundreds of millions. Fish continues to be one of the most-traded food commodities worldwide. It is especially important for developing countries, sometimes worth half the total value of their traded commodities (Food and Agricultural Organization, 2014).

In Nigeria, like in most coastal developing nations, fish is an important source of food and income to its people. It plays a very important role in improving their food security and nutritional status. Fish is a source of high-quality protein that can be produced more cheaply than any other animal protein for human consumption. It is also medically recommended for pregnant women, children and adults because of its high-level protein, digestibility and low level of cholesterol, preventive resource for heart attack or failure and stroke (Kareem, 2011).

Jatto, Akali, Galadima, Gunu, & Maikasuwa (2013), noted that over the past decade Nigeria has become one of the largest importers of agricultural commodities, with fish importation ranking 4th highest on the importation list. According to the bulletin released by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD, 2012), fish import over the past decade was estimated at USD$667 million, which puts Nigeria as the highest importer of fish in Africa. Nigeria currently holds an importation percentage of over 70% compared to the local production of less than 30% (FMARD, 2012). Nigerians are regarded as large consumers of fish with an annual demand estimated at 1.9 million metric tonnes (FMARD, 2012). However, a demand supply gap of at least 0.7million metric tonnes exists nationally with import making up for the shortfall at an estimated cost of USD$0.5billion per year (NBS, 2013).

In an effort to bridge the demand- supply gap, the government has introduced various policies, programmes and institutions like Nigerian Institute for Freshwater Fisheries Research (NIFFR), Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR) and, recently, the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) in collaboration with the World Fish Center and FAO, all in an effort to help combat food insecurity through increased fish production .Also the Jonathan administration instituted the Presidential Initiative on Fisheries and Aquaculture Development to provide technical and financial assistance to government programs and projects encouraging fish production.(FMARD, 2012) As part of the transformation agenda, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture is providing farmers with fingerlings and feed at subsidized rates (FMARD, 2012).  

To create a system with continuous returns, one needs good management and policies directed towards the efficient use of resources, as these will not only sustain fisheries but will also heighten the level of food security in our country. However, efficiency with which farmers use resources available to them are important in measuring agricultural productivity. The main issue in the Nigerian agriculture has been that of low productivity. Despite all forms of external intervention and development plans in the fisheries sector in the past decade, there is still more to be desired as little result can be shown for these numerous programme (FAO, 2011).  With the rapid increase in human population, there is a need to have a stable, productive and sustainable fisheries sector. This underscores the need to understand whether or not the catfish farmers are efficiently utilizing all the available input resources.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

            Food insecurity is one of the major challenges facing the world today. Available statistics from Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) indicate that about 795 million people in the world were undernourished in 2014 (FAO, 2015). Also, recent report by FAO showed that about 27 countries in Africa and seven in Asia require international assistance for food (FAO, 2016). Food producers, especially in Africa, are faced with the challenge of increasing their output to meet the food and nutrition requirements of the increasing human population. For instance in Nigeria, this rapid increase in population has led to a huge increase in the demand for animal protein, which is essentially higher in quality than that of plant as it contains all essential amino acids for growth (Awoyemi & Ajiboye, 2011).

Nigeria has insufficient access to the amount and variety of food for a healthy and productive life because she has not fully exploited her agricultural potentials. Thus, the average protein intake in Nigeria which is about 19.38g/caput/day is low and far below FAO requirement of 75g/caput/day (Oladimeji, 2014). Recent statistics also indicate that Nigeria has over 12 million people in a state of hunger and this can trigger regional instability due to inadequate food reserves and vulnerability to even the slightest shocks to food supply (FAO, 2016).

Fish production is economically viable and Nigeria has the resources to produce millions of metric tonnes annually. For instance, Akwa Ibom State is richly endowed with abundant inland water-bodies, flood plains-wetlands which are highly productive and ideal for artisanal fisheries and aquaculture development (Akwa Ibom State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (SEEDS), 2005). While artisanal fisheries (fish production from Atlantic Ocean, seas and rivers) is largely underdeveloped, investments in fish farming have grown recently but whether or not the fish farmers are making profit is not known.

Fish farming is becoming widely practiced in Nigeria, and fish culture has been noted by Amaefula, Onyenweaku & Asomugha (2010) as the surest way of bridging the widening gap between the demand and supply of fish in the country. This has encouraged increasing interests in fish production especially catfish production because of its fast growth in captivity. Available literature shows that several studies have been conducted on fish farming in Nigeria, but they were basically on socio-economic characteristics of fish farmers (Okwu & Acheneje, 2011, economic analysis of fish farming (Olawunmi, Dipeolu & Bamiro, 2010; Ele, Ibok,Antia-obnong, Okon & Udoh, 2012), profitability (Egware & Orewa, 2013 and Omobade, Adebayo, Amos & Adedokun, 2015) and economic efficiency and profitability (Nkamigbo, Ovuomarie, Maduka, & Isibor, 2014). There is little or no study economic analysis of catfish production in Akwa Ibom State. Therefore, this study is designed to fill this gap, that is, examine the costs and returns of catfish production by rural farmers in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this study is to analyze the costs and returns of catfish production by rural famrers in Akwa Ibom State.

The specific objectives are to:-

i.        identify the socio-economic characteristics of rural fish farmers in the study area;

ii.                  identify the production system/types of ponds used by the respondents;

iii.                evaluate the costs and returns in catfish production;

iv.                estimate the factors influencing catfish production in the study area.


1.4 Hypotheses

            The following null hypotheses were tested:

(i)     socio-economic characteristics of the catfish farmers do not significantly influence their output; and

(ii)   catfish production in the study area is not profitable.

1.5 Justification of the Study           

Results of this study has provided information to catfish farmers in Akwa Ibom State on how profitable catfish production is. This could draw more farmers into the catfish business and thereby helping bridge the demand and supply gap of food fish production in the area.

Strategies could also be devised from this study for the transfer of information gathered, and the acquired knowledge to other catfish farmers in Nigeria and the developing countries as a whole. It is also hoped that this research has provided a valuable reference tool to scholars and researchers. Generally, the results of this study will enhance our understanding of the vital role that catfish farming could play in attaining food security and sustainable future.

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