Fish farming is a lucrative business that can fetch a lot of income for the farmer and employ lots of youths who still keep parading the streets.
How to start fish farming in Cameroon
As a major component of aquaculture, fish pond (pisciculture) farming in Africa dates back to the 1930s, when it was first introduced (Jamu and Ayinla, 2003). Although fish farming in Cameroon started in the late 1940s. Currently, the country meets only half of its domestic demand for fish.
Advantages of fish farming in Cameroon
l Fish farming is a lucrative business that can fetch a lot of income for the farmer and employ lots of youths who still keep parading the streets of the country looking for jobs.
l It is one of the businesses with self-sustainability, though the output may be low in such a case.
l It reduces the amount of fish imported because of the internal supply from fish farms, hence contributing to the GDP f the country.
The fish farming process is divided into the following steps, which are not completely exclusive. Still, for the sake of better understanding, I have divided the process into nine phases The process which leads to the start of a successful fish farm in Cameroon includes:
l Get a good location for your farm
the location should be around a clean water source with little or no pollutants, especially in a swampy area where the ground is water-logged to prevent rapid infiltration of water. In places where there is no available source of clean water, other artificial sources of water can be used
l Get a good source of water
A good water source like a stream or river is needed to carry out fish farming in Cameroon. This method is less expensive though there exist other types of fish farming in which the source of water is not natural or local but is transported through pipes to the point of fish cultivation.
l Choose the appropriate type of fish pond
The type of fish pond used to carry out fish farming in Cameroon depends on the area that the practice is being carried out and the available material for the pond to be created. The most common type is the excavated hole dug in the ground such that the bottom of the pond is sloped to enable the fish to the surface to feed efficiently and the fish keeper to monitor their health easily. The deep portion (usually between 2 to 2.5 meters from the water surface) also serves as a point of escape from aerial predators like the kingfisher. The main point here is that the pond should be able to retain a large quantity of water. Hence, plastic can be used as a container for the pond with an inlet for fresh water and an outlet for used highly nourished water, which may be used to fertilize crops nearby. Nets are sometimes used to reduce the amount of fish lost to predators. In the excavated ground pond, the banks are supposed to be kept free from plants, especially grasses, that may serve as hiding spots for predators.
l Decide the right species of fish for you
The most common species of fish cultivated in Cameroon is the Clarias. However, the Tilapia and other species are also cultivated. It is usually for commercial purposes since it requires a lot of attention and finance in constantly monitoring the pond temperature, pH, and visibility. The Clarias, also called mud-fish is the most common fish cultivated because it requires less attention and finances. It can survive very adverse conditions like drought, and it can easily be reproduced.
l Get healthy fingerling or juveniles
The Cameroon has many hatcheries found in various locations in the country where fingerlings can be acquired at moderate prices by any prospective fish farmer.
l Understand fish feeds & feeding
The fish a farmer must know the sizes of fish pallets to give the fish and other alternatives that can be used as fish food in case of shortage or to supplement the fish diet.
l Start Marketing your fish before they grow-up
This is a a very important point, especially for those raising fish for commercial purposes. It will reduce the amount of feed that the fish would have consumed for that particular farming season to a more economical amount since the amount of fish to feed would have reduced before reaching full maturity.
l Be business-minded
This is also, another important point that will determine whether the commercial fish farmer will stay in business or not. A business-minded fish farmer would always look for ways of reducing cost without necessarily lowering the quality of fish that he is selling to the population. He would also make sure he can sell their fish to a wider market.
l Get good and practical fish farming training
All the skills that a good fish farmer would need can only be gotten by acquiring adequate training on how to raise that species of fish in which they are interested. In this way, there is a reduced risk of losses due to newness to the business, as it would have been for an unskilled farmer during the first few seasons of fish farming.
In addition to the above steps, the would-be farmer must take into consideration the following points for the smooth start and running of their fish pond:
1. Feasibility studies
Evaluate the amount of money needed to start the type of fish pond they would like to start and the estimated amount of money that could be generated so that the profitability can be convincing before starting the fish farm. The expenditures will include acquiring the tools, land which normally should be located near a clean water source that has not been contaminated with many pollutants as is the case in local areas where streams are used as points of laundry, and purchase of the fish breed that has been chosen. This also involves evaluating the site selected for this activity if it can actually retain water for a long time before drying out.
Feasibility studies also involve evaluating profitability, that is, Considering the supply and demand for that fish species you want to invest in, the capital costs, the operating costs, the legal aspects, and the production capacity, which is usually small at the beginning because it is advisable to start a small fish farm before moving to larger fish ponds. Evaluate the current market and see if there is enough space and demand to accommodate a new fish farm.
Normally, the amount of money needed to start a commercial fish farm is always higher than that needed for a small scale personal fish farm. This is due to the improved human and material resources needed to run a commercial fish farm successfully.
Once you think that fish farming is a viable and profitable business, it is recommended that you go to a fishing farm to work to learn related knowledge. Before starting a business, you must improve some technical and management skills.
Finally, when your fish pond is created, you must constantly check the fish for signs of sickness, including dead fish floating on the water surface or reduced reactions to throwing feed into the pond. A self-sustaining pond that does not need external influence should have a feed manufacturing plant nearby for easy access to feed at any time. Also, there must be effective ventilation in the pond without which the fish will suffocate and die, especially when the fish species involved are lungless.