Frozen catfish market not thriving in Nigeria – Farmers

Catfish and Allied Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria CAFFAN

SOME catfish farmers say many Nigerians prefer  fresh catfish despite calls to  adopt the  value addition  of frozen catfish, thus affecting the chain.

The farmers said this in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos.

They noted that the possibility of  Nigerians accepting  frozen catfish remained slim, and would  result in low sales for the farmers.

A fish farmer, Mr Anthony Hammed, Chief Executive Officer of Simple Aquaculture and Standard Resource Farms, said the adoption of frozen  method of preserving catfish   was  not presently practicable.

According to him, not so many catfish farmers have adopted the frozen catfish method of preservation. Most of us in Lagos are not freezing our fish.

“Most times,  people proffer solutions and ask us to adopt alternatives that are not realistic.

“Recently,  because of the economic situation in the country, demands have dropped, so instead of farmers continually feeding the fish,  they freeze them.

“We have,  however,  observed that when catfish is frozen, it loses its original taste which makes most Nigerians prefer it  fresh  in the first place.

“When catfish is frozen, it does not give  that original taste.

“Roasting or smoking the catfish in our present economy is more feasible for  farmers than freezing it and not being able to sell due to  taste preferences.

“The main  tradition of catfish consumption is that it has often been   eaten fresh,” Hammed said.

On her part, Mrs Kemi Egbucha, a fish farmer and chief executive officer of AZ Animal feeds said the rising cost of feed was what prompted the adoption of freezing the catfish.

She,  however,  noted  that frozen catfish was not beneficial to the farmers as they got little or no patronage.

“The rising cost of fish feed is what made some fish farmers and even the associations introduce frozen catfish.

“It is not that we are really ready for freezing our fish as a means of value addition.

“Fish farmers were advised to start freezing their catfish to reduce the cost implications of feed. It has helped to an extent but not to the expected desires.

“Personally I have not been freezing my catfish and we have observed that most people that freeze their catfish have been unable to get buyers to patronise them.

According  to her, restaurants and hotels that come to buy in large quantities, point at the live fish in the ponds and do not opt for the frozen ones.

“The frozen fish alternative is not working for catfish farmers as suggested in the first place. It is a crazy situation.

“Most people eating catfish want it fresh and not the frozen one.

“The market for   frozen fish is not really picking up but we can explore other value chains aside freezing ,” Egbucha said. (NAN)