Umar Ibrahim Ahmed, 29 years old, is a graduate of Business Administration from the University of Abuja, but still scouting for job, not necessarily white collar job. Already, Umar is married, a circumstance that prompted him to consider catfish farming. As a mediocre
business administrator, Umar is willing to struggle to make ends meet so long as it would put food on his table. So, he decided to try his hands on any legitimate job for him to also take care of his myriad of expenses.
Consequently, Umar put up a concrete fish pond at a small space in his uncle’s Life Camp residence in Abuja, with about a thousand juveniles, (small fish) at least for a start. According to him, “I committed at least N150, 000 to the business.
“I also made wider consultations from those in the business before I delved into fish production.” He admitted.
However, Umar, who has never benefited from any form of agricultural loan, lauded the Federal government’s Nagropreneur initiative and called for its improvement for the benefit of potential youth farmers like him. He is enthusiastic that if the programme was streamlined to accommodate more youths, by providing soft loans, technical expertise and the desired logistics, more people would be lifted out of poverty and there would be less dependency on white collar jobs.
“I wish to get a soft loan to expand my fish production. Though I missed out on the Nagropreneur initiative, such programme is commendable. If the government can make provision for more young people as a way of encouraging entrepreneurship amongst the youth, there would be less pressure on government finances and several Nigerians would become self-employed” he said.
The Nagropreneur was established by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2013, via Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP). The initiative is a five years planned programme intended to attract the country’s young graduates and school
leavers into commercial farming and agro business. The beneficiaries are expected to help create jobs for additional hundreds of thousands of Nigerian youth.
It is however crystal clear, that the Programme came at the right time.
Not only is it favourable to the agricultural sector, but also takes care of unemployment as a self-employment programme.
Reports have shown that Nigeria churns out over 166,000 graduates yearly. These graduates are meant to be absorbed into the employment market but this has proven impossible given the fact that the system lacks the potentials to create 166,000 jobs yearly. So, the natural and best option is creation of new jobs by encouraging self-employment.
At this point, the young catfish farmer believed he is amongst the over five million jobless graduates in Nigeria.
Recently, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, quoting figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) rating, said “no fewer than 5.3 million youths are jobless in the country, while 1.8 million graduates enter the labour market every year”.
Although this figure is believed to be an archaic estimate of the actual number of unemployed youths in the country if the previous NBS statistics is anything to go by, the NBS had in its previous figure put the number of jobless Nigerians at 20.3 million.
Speaking on whether it is possible for fresh graduates to delve into fish farming and become successful in the end, Umar informed that “I did my homework first”, believing that only when one is properly equipped and well prepared will success come his way.
Mr Igwe Chinedu, who is a veteran fish farmer and agro-dealer with his office located at Kado fish market in Abuja, informed that the business was lucrative but cautioned that certain precautionary measure must be put into perspective in order to achieve success.
In Chinedu’s account, he recommended the Concrete type of fish pond for starters saying through the block system, beginners could break even and make huge profit no matter the cost of production. He also mentioned types of pond, fish, feeds and drugs as prerequisite for successful fish farming. “There are different types of fish pond including the earthen pond, concrete pond and vet (made of plastic rubber) pond, but I know that the concrete pond is most suitable for people with limited resources.”
“In fish farming, there is the need for quality feeds; there is coppens feed produced (Holland), Multi-feed (Israel), Vital feed (Jos, Nigeria), Aqua feed (USA) Aqua mana (Nigeria) etc,” adding “For a beginner to achieve success in catfish production, he also needs to choose the right fish from the Dutch Clara’s family including Pure Dutch, Hollandia and Dutch Garapino.”
He also disclosed the various symptoms of fish type diseases which he said potential farmers should watch out for including “body pilling, rotten mouth, sluggish movement and swollen stomach.” He suggested a reliable water source for the concrete pond which requires constant changing to keep the fish fit and healthy.
He didn’t hesitate to name some drugs that are required to tackle various degrees of diseases associated with the fish. “There is the Fish-biotic, Aquacyrle, Floxinor, Aquacal and Aqua flash respectively.”
By and large, the government will need to identify the ‘real’ farmers as some observers had alleged that the Nagropreneur initiative has been able to address the purpose for which it was established—to locate the real farmers or even achieve its set objectives. They are insinuating that most of those in the forefront are merely fictional farmers who don’t have farms. The allegation is worthy of consideration for the benefit of many that are in Umar’s condition, ever willing to overturn their fortune and that of others via hard work.