Connect with us


Expanding the Frontiers of Impact Beyond Feed

… Olam Agri’s Journey of Transforming Fish Farming in Nigeria



Fish farm

Limiting challenges and untapped potential

Fish provides essential nutrition for 3.3 billion people in the world. Both primary fisheries and aquaculture employ 58.5 million people globally. Somehow, the potential of the fish farming value chain in Nigeria was largely untapped until recently.

In the past six years, there has been a significant leap in production, employment generation and overall economic contributory levels of the sector – thanks to Olam Agri’s investment drive and the efforts by the Federal Government and relevant global agencies.

The company’s investment journey in Nigeria’s aquaculture sector began in 2017 through its integrated feed milling unit. In that period the challenges confronting the sector were enormous. Matthew Tan, a global expert on aquaculture who was engaged to work with the local fish farmers that year identified some of the challenges associated with the sector as unsustainable husbandry and poor feeding practices among farmers, inbreeding problems, lack of water monitoring capability and lack of basic biosecurity.

Consequently, the local Feed Conversation Ratio (FCR) and hatchery mortality rate were high. Brood stock growth phases and harvest sizes were poor due to the alarming inefficiency in the sector, a result of a rooted knowledge gap.

Corroborating the poor state of the sector in that period, Olawale Onada, the Regional Technical Manager for the Olam Agri feed milling unit covering Southwest 1, said, “Farmers had low knowledge of trendy pond management techniques. They were ignorant of pond PC and water measurement parameters. They lacked pond disease management knowledge. They didn’t know that it was important to test their water before they started farming. They believed that once there was a pond they could go ahead and start farming.  Therefore, the pond mortality rate was high. The pond yield was low, and their farm yield and return on investment were badly affected.”

A timely intervention

Olalere Ambali, an aquaculture technical executive who also works with Olam Agri’s feed milling unit explained, “When we started working with the farmers, a good number of them were using traditional feed which had low nutritional value. Also, most of the farm clusters we visited initially had ponds that had high ammonia levels causing high breed mortality. The technical inputs in the fish farms were poor.”

The aquaculture sector underperformed regardless of past policy interventions and public-private investment efforts until Olam Agri’s feed milling unit deployed its broad technical and milling capabilities to address the various hurdles negating growth. Capturing the pre-2017 state of the sector further, a research work by Delta State University put the total production output in the country at a ‘meagre 200,000’ despite the availability of 1.75 million hectares of arable land suitable for fish farming around the country.

The inefficiencies in the sector compounded the issues around food security. According to the report, whereas fish products provide around 60% of the required daily protein intake for rural adults in the country, the poor performance of the aquaculture sector meant a larger segment of the population was only able to access 8 grams daily animal protein intake against the 35 grams recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

To arrest the sector’s inefficiencies, the global expert engaged by Olam Agri and a team of trained local technical staff embarked on fish farm cluster engagements across the country.

A sector on a resurgence

Speaking about Olam Agri’s engagements Matthew Tan, the expert, said, “The global aquaculture sector is expected to grow at 5.5 percent CAGR reaching USD 421.2 billion in 2030. Nigeria has always had a huge potential to tap this growing market to improve its food security and economic position. We saw the potential in the country’s aquaculture sector in 2017. We decided to work with the local fish farmers to alleviate the challenges hampering growth. We developed a set of training and farming protocols for farmers in the country. We conducted hundreds of training sessions with thousands of farmers in attendance.”

He expatiated, “Hundreds of farming co-operatives participated in our training programs. Over time as farmers began to implement the knowledge gleaned through the training, we started to see improvements in pond survival and final harvest in the farming community across the country. The growth in the aquaculture sector underlines the value of Olam Agri’s Seeds for the Future (SFTF) initiative. The SFTF is the agribusiness social sustainability investment vehicle. It focuses on five key levers, which are supporting farmers and farming communities, enabling broader education & skill development for young people, empowering women (farmers & bakers), promoting health & nutrition, and reducing carbon emissions in business operations.”

Olawale and Olalere who were part of Olam Agri’s executive technical team captured the experience. Olawale said, “Immediately we entered a community we identified new prospects that needed technical inputs. For instance, at the Asejere and Kajola fish farm clusters located in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, two of the largest fish farm clusters in West Africa, we introduced the farmers to the best global fish farm management practices comprising hatchery management, PC collection, feed and feeding management, water quality management and disease management. We ran trials on their farms to give them first-hand knowledge of these best management practices.  They have been able to adopt these practices and confirmed improvements in their yield and incomes.”

He added that farmers who previously had 20 ponds were able to grow their businesses to expand to around 40 ponds because of adopting the knowledge and tools delivered by the team.

Also, Olalere reiterated the impact of the company’s business investment efforts making mention of how it produced and delivered quality fish feed that aided the growth of brood stock, reduced pond mortality rate and farms’ cost of production.

Olam Agri’s animal feed brands comprising EcoFloat, Blue Crown, Aqualis and Alpha are full-floating freshwater fish feed. The brands are specifically tailored to the needs of the African catfish and farming practices in Nigeria. They are rich in amino and protein balance; thereby fostering faster fish stock growth. The brands presently offer balanced nutrition for best-in-class feed conversion ratios to more than 15,000 local fish farmer businesses in the country.

Attesting to growth in the fish farming value chain, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in 2021 that Nigeria has been able to achieve the production of over 1 million metric tons of fish annually. It put the estimated value of the country’s annual production at USD 2.6 billion. The catfish value chain was said to offer employment to around 1 million people while the estimated number of fish farmers increased to 285,000.

Acknowledging Olam Agri’s investment efforts in the value chain, Oropo Abiola, a fish farmer who operates in the Kajola fish farm cluster in Ijebu Ode, said, “Olam Agri came to our farm cluster and trained us on pond water management techniques, how to test PH level in the pond, and ways to curb feed waste. They helped us understand the science of catfish farming, especially how to create the right environment for the fish to thrive. These efforts have really impacted our businesses.”

Odafi Lazarus, a fish farmer in the Asejere farm cluster expatiated, “What Olam Agri is contributing to the industry is huge. When the business’ Eco-Float feed was introduced to us, we were able to cut waste and lower production costs in a way. The floating feed helps us measure livestock consumption. The feed floats, unlike the sinking pallet that goes down deep into the pond where we don’t know if the fish are consuming everything or not.”

Olatoye Fajimi, the Vice President of the Lagos State Catfish & Allied Farmers Association, who also runs a fish farm in the Itamaga fish farm cluster of Ikorodu, said, “Since feed is one of the most important inputs in fish farming, Olam Agri increased the availability of feed to farmers. They are helping farmers gain access to feed in an instant by localizing their production in key hubs here in Nigeria. They also employ technical experts as salespeople who go around to visit farms to work with the farmers to improve farm clusters productivity.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Kwara Govt To Flag-off Distribution of Farm Inputs To Rice, Maize Farmers




•Agric Ministry Commences Verification of Farmers’ Data

All is set for the official flag-off and distribution of farm inputs to rice and maize farmers across the 16 Local Government Areas of the State.

The State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs. Oloruntoyosi Thomas gave this indication during a working visit to some of the farm cluster groups in Edu Local Government Area.

Mrs. Thomas re-emphasized the state government’s determination to consistently work with the real farmers in its efforts to be self-sufficient in food production in order to expand the revenue generation capacity of the State.

The Commissioner, who was in the company of Officers of the Ministry and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Harvest Value Chain, Mr. Charles Adetola disclosed further that the team was in the state on a verification mission of the captured farmers for the 2024 wet season farming.

“The present government is intentional about working with real farmers only, we are back again to verify the farmers that have been captured in the list, we have our partner from Harvest Value Chain Limited, they are private sector and are on the field to verify farmers’ details with a view to providing meaningful intervention to our farmers”, She explained.

In his remarks, the CEO, Harvest Value Chain Limited, Mr. Charles Adetola appreciated the state government for the opportunity given to his company, adding that the process would give equal opportunity to the targeted beneficiaries.

Explaining the process further, Adetola said they started the process by ensuring collection of data base of all farmers which includes, Names, BVN, and Phone Numbers, pointing out that what is being done now is a follow up on the verification process by tagging each farmer to their farm land.

Also speaking on behalf of the farmers in Yelwa village, Tsaragi Ward II, Mrs. Aminat Mahmud expressed appreciation to the state government for the opportunity extended to the real farmers.

Continue Reading


How technology is aiding some of Africa’s largest agricultural producers




Mechanised farm

In the latest episode of Inside Africa, CNN International explores the future of agriculture and how agricultural technology – agritech – is supporting the industry.

Wandile Sihlobo, Chief Economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa establishes the importance of the agritech sector and the continent’s role in it, “We have the potential. Now we need to get to the stage where to say, ‘Let’s realise the potential.’ And I mean, if you think about it in a global space, there is generally an increasing interest in agricultural technology and also in the food sector at large, which means that capital could be available to unlock that potential.”

With limited income and access to credit, machinery tends to be too expensive for small-scale farmers to buy. Folu Okunade is the co-founder and COO of Hello Tractor, a way for farmers in Kenya to rent existing equipment and use it more efficiently. He explains, “We have IOT [Internet of Things] enabled web and mobile platforms that connect farmers with mechanisation service providers or tractor owners. The tractor comes to them, does the work. They now don’t have to own a tractor outright because it doesn’t make sense for them to, if they just own a small piece of land, they’re never going to be able to pay back that tractor.”

Farmer and tractor owner Nashon Ngetich speaks about why the service is useful for owners as well as renters, “I’m able to rent it out to my neighbouring farmers, move around with it around the country and I can make some small amount of money from it as well as pay for it, pay the operator. The opportunity with it is we can plan ourselves easily. When the season kicks in I can plan for it.”

Looking to the future, Okunade hopes to expand beyond just tractors. He tells CNN, “Mechanisation is beyond just ploughing or land preparation, it goes to things like planting, or spreading fertiliser, or spraying, or planting, or harvesting. So, we really see this progression now that we have the customer, how do we move them to a highly engaged customer who’s doing three and more services with us per season.”

Africa is the fastest growing continent and the UN estimates that the population of Sub-Saharan Africa will nearly double by 2050. Improving crop yields is key for feeding this future. Okunade says, “There’s a ton of potential. I don’t think anybody knows the ceiling when it comes to working with smallholder farmers and really solving this food security challenge. So, it’s the challenge that drives me, but it’s also knowing that there’s a huge potential out there.”

Also in Kenya, Inside Africa sees how a mobile app for cow management is transforming milk production. Around 3.8 billion litres of milk are produced in Kenya every year, mostly by small farms. Peninah Wanja, Founder of DigiCow Africa describes where dairy farmers lose money, “One of the key challenges that faces the small holder dairy farmers is low milk production, where farmers get an average of 10 litres per cow per day. Against the potential of 30 litres per cow per day, the same cow. And this challenge is brought in by farmers not keeping records.”

As well as keeping records on milk production, DigiCow can store information on vaccinations, deworming, and artificial insemination. The app sends automatic alerts when a cow is due treatment and can dispatch a vet as necessary. Dairy farmer Murimi Wamabi talks about how the app has helped, “My core business being breeding, they’ve really assisted me in breeding in the sense of keeping my records. And since I’m a busy guy, honestly, when you have somebody who can update, he tells you today, check on heat on this particular animal, this one is due on this date so you should dry it. So, all that information is actually at the tip of my finger.”

DigiCow has already expanded to cover more than just cattle. Wanja says, “We started with a dairy farmer in mind. But out of demand from the farmers we have been able to expand to other value chains. And we are now working with sheep, goat, beef in crops, in potatoes, and also rice. In total, we are working with over 300,000 farmers.”

In Côte d’Ivoire, drones are being used to aid agriculture and increase productivity. They allow farmers to remotely monitor crops and use sophisticated sensors to assess soil quality and detect crop disease. Co-founder of drone maker JooL International Joseph-Olivier Biley describes the company, “JooL was born out of a personal problem my family was having. We have this plantation three to four hours away and my father who is very busy didn’t have time to go there regularly. JooL was born to allow people like my father, agricultural investors, to be able to protect and grow their investments remotely while carrying out their day jobs.”

Drone usage is increasing in Africa, particularly in the medical space, but many are imported from China for affordability and ease. Biley says JooL intends to keep making its own hardware locally, “We are only able to produce small quantities. We need to be able to find the means to expand our production line, by setting up a factory to be able to produce in larger quantities locally, to save costs, to create jobs and to be able to satisfy the whole continent.”

Biley and his team have also set up an academy to train drone pilots. Lanciné Doumouya, Co-founder & VP at JooL Academy speaks about the project, “The academy allows us to train professionals in the agricultural field. To give them an added value in their field of agronomy, in their daily agronomic activity. And also people who have nothing to do with agriculture, who want to improve or learn the drone business and be able to create a source of income. So it’s really aimed at everybody.”

Finally, the show visits Uganda where technology is aiding an urban development project.

‘Inside Africa’ airs on Sunday 30th July 2023 at 12:30 SAST on CNN International.

Credit: CNN’s Inside Africa

Continue Reading


GLO 4G LTE Advanced will also enable optimum performance in telemedicine, e-agriculture, 3D Games.




Glo logo

Mobile network operator, Globacom, has unveiled its Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution Advanced network, popularly known as 4G-LTE Advanced.

The telecommunications giant said in a press statement that the simultaneous rollout of the service in several major cities in the country is geared towards speeding up economic and commercial activities while boosting the productivity of professionals, students and traders across the country.

The launch of the superior 4G LTE Advanced technology was a major step in actualizing its objective of empowering Nigerians for a better internet experience and more productive life, the company added. Described as the power of three LTE data networks in one, Glo 4G LTE “is faster, stronger and better”, Globacom noted as it further outlined the process of how its new and existing customers can connect to the network.

“It is a simple process. For those who already have 4G SIMs, they will be able to enjoy the Glo LTE Advanced service. But for those who do not have the 4G SIMs, they first need to upgrade their SIM cards to USIM (4G SIM). The upgrade process is also simple, as all you require is a SIM Swap, which takes two minutes. The customer also needs a device that is 4G-enabled. Then, you will experience seamless and super-fast mobile Internet services on the Glo network,” the network further enumerated.

While enjoining subscribers to visit the nearest Gloworld shop to connect to the Glo 4G LTE Advanced and enjoy the boundless opportunities offered by the advanced and superior technology, the company posited that with the consistent growth of smart devices in Nigeria, the demand for bandwidth and high speed capabilities is also increasing as subscribers exchange, download and upload more videos, music and documents and use mobile applications that are bandwidth intensive.

According to the network provider, access to affordable 4G LTE Advanced technology will enhance the experience of these subscribers as well as enhance capacity and quality. All these culminated in Glo acquiring additional 4G spectrum on 2.6GHZ band.

“Glo 4G LTE Advanced is ‘transformational’ as it will be of significant implication for individuals who use large volumes of data as well as government and corporate organisations such as banks, oil and gas companies, academic and health institutions which rely heavily on reliable data connection for their operations,” it added.

Throwing more light on the benefits of LTE Advanced network , Glo said it offers subscribers a significantly improved experience., adding “The video and voice quality in video calls on different applications like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber etc is a lot clearer while the picture quality is crispier, and the transmission is faster”.

Glo 4G LTE Advanced will also enable optimum performance in telemedicine, e-agriculture, 3D Games.

Over 4,000 LTE Advanced sites are projected for rollout in major cities across the country in 2023 to ensure nationwide coverage of the network, making Glo stand out in the 4G broadband space in Nigeria.

Continue Reading


Mega Awareness 2023