Mr Eugene Mobuogwu from Egbu, Onicha Ukwu part of Ubulu-Uku in Aniocha South LGA of Delta State is the Chief Executive Officer  (CEO) of Melhev Concepts Farms. On returning to his hometown from Osun State in July 2023, Mobuogwu ventured into fish farming as a way to contribute to the economic activities of his community. Today, he has over 400 catfishes in his farm and is ready to kick off a training programme for those willing to join the fish farm business at Ubulu-Uku. In this interview with ANTHONY AWUNOR , the farmer speaks on how he started the business, advising that those willing to go into fish farming at Ubulu Uku should first consider source of water supply, security and other factors. 

Tell us about yourself and your business.?

My name is Eugene Mobuogwu. I started this catfish farming sometimes in September 2023. The name of the farm is Melhev Concepts Farms. I am using one of the latest technologies called tapolin tanks to raise catfish. I have two tanks now and the first one is harboring 250 juvenile catfishes which has been on for three months now. In the next one month, that is in February, I will be harvesting them. The second tapoline is also harboring 150 juvenile catfishes, making it a total of 400 catfishes. In three months time, I should be able to harvest that.

How did you start the fish farm business? 

I just came back to Ubulu-Uku sometime in July 2023 and I was looking at something I could lay my hands on to boost the economic activities of my people. I studied Agriculture at Ofa Centre Institute of Agriculture in Osun State. So I am looking at raising the economic activities through catfish farming. For instance, when the harvest is done, there would be enough fish to meet up demands, jobs would be provided and there would be enough food for the people. 

Beyond setting up the farm, what else can you offer? 

For upcoming youths, I will offer training for those who want to go into fish farming because I am an expert in that area. I can also train operators on breeding, that is bringing the make and female fishes together for reproduction purposes. We do that through artifical insemination. I am ready to offer my expertise to the youths who are willing to set up their fish farms. There will be charges for that but it will be very affordable.

What are the challenges of running the catfish business? 

The major challenge we face in this business is water. In terms of the feeds, it is also a challenge because the economy is not favourable in terms of the cost of buying them. Two days ago I bought a bag of bluecrown catfish feeds for N1600 excluding the transport fares to and fro Asaba where I bought them. 

Is the business lucrative and would you advise Ubulu-Uku people to invest in it?

Yes of course. It is a lucrative business and anybody interested and has constant water supply together with some advance cash to start up with can venture into it. 

Is there a readily available market for catfish at Ubulu-Uku, just in case you harvest in large quantities? 

Recently, I did a market survey and I found out the market is there. Sometime last year, I witnessed a fish farm sold in one single transaction fishes worth N210, 000. The woman came the following day and bought again and about N110, 000 worth of catfish. So you can see the market is there. So there are ready market for it. For instance, we have many beer parlous, hotels and other relaxation joints that buy catfish almost everyday. 

Let’s talk about training. If you are given opportunity to train potential catfish farmers. Which area would you be able to train them effectively? 

I will focus more on breeding. Breeding has to do with artificial insemination as I mentioned before. That is bringing the make and female fish together to hatch the eggs. I will also be teaching pond maintenance in terms of keeping the ponds safe and healthy. The next area I will focus is how to stock the fish. I will also train them on feeding. I did a lot of practicals on feeding while I was in school. Usually, feeding should be done twice a day. However, one can actually feed them three times, depending on how you want the fishes to grow. I will also be teaching on the techniques use to feed the catfish,which entail spot feeding and broadcasting system of feeding. Others are maintenance and marketing. I know about social media marketing through Facebook and Instagram. When I train them, they will in turn train others. 

How do you think government can assist fish farmers in Nigeria? 

What I think the government can do to boost productivity in fish farming is to provide funding and finance opportunities. For instance, if I get N3 million to N3.5 million, I will be able to buy more tapoline tanks, 10 to 15 bags of feeds and keep in the store instead of running up and down to buy in few bags. 

How accessible are the equipment and materials used in fish farming at Ubulu-Uku. Do you see all these things to buy easily in the town? 

The equipment are easily accessible but I didn’t get them at Ubulu-Uku. I got the tapoline tanks were bought from Onitsha in Anambra State. The iron pipes were bought from Ogwashi Uku. They are readily available but not at Ubulu-Uku. 

Kindly give advise to those aspiring to go into fish farming at Ubulu-Uku? 

My advice for fish farmers is that when you are going into catfish production, they should look into water management and maintenance. They should also look into security because sometimes, if you are raising catfish to some extent, you may not know who is monitoring to break in and steal. They should also ensure that there is a ready market before harvesting.

Eugene Mobuogwu can be reached via telephone number +234807185 4277

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