Fish feed production has seen a remarkable increase in Nigeria recently as a result of private investments.
The renewed willingness of public research institutions to work in collaboration and partnership with established private businesses is proving vital in the production and distribution of critical aquaculture technologies and inputs across Nigeria.
Triton, one of Nigeria’s largest fish producers is partnering with Nigerian Institute for Oceanography (NIOMR ) to produce fish feed at its Badore Fish Farm, on the outskirts of the economic capital, Lagos. About 180 metric tons of extruded floating fish feed is produced monthly representing about 2200 metric tons per year. For a country experiencing both growths in the aquaculture value chain and the demand for fish feed, this is a substantial relief. As most large-scale fish producers in Nigeria previously, Triton imported fish feed from abroad for their fish farms but now produce their fish feeds locally using the NIOMR Fish Feed Mill.
Making public research institutes more market-oriented has generally been a challenge not only in Nigeria but also across Africa. Though many recognize the potential of the private sector in funding and expanding the adoption of technologies and innovation, the existing public-private partnerships are not enough to meaningfully cause the expected changes in the agriculture industry, experts say.
But in Nigeria, empowered public research institutes are willing to experiment business models with private businesses in order to expand the uptake of their technologies and approaches to aquaculture.
Currently, a collaboration between the Aquaculture National Center of Specialization (NCoS) led by the Lagos-based NIOMR, Lagos and Triton Aqua Africa Limited is yielding some positive results with far-reaching consequences on the nutrition security ambition of the country.
Translating Public-Private-Partnerships into Action
“As part of West Africa Agriculture Productivity Program (WAAPP), we set up demonstration farms on our Badore location, just outside of Lagos. The extruded floating fish feed produced by NIOMR had the same food conversion ratio of 1:1 compared to imported ones from abroad,” explains Dr. Patricia Erig Anyanwu, NIOMR’s Acting Executive Director.
“As demand grew, we made investments in infrastructure including procurement of a fish feed extruder machine that could produce 1.5 metric tons of floating fish feed per hour. But as the business matured, we quickly understood our limits and decided to search for cooperation with private firms. This is how we entered into an agreement with Triton. They expanded the Badore Fish Feed Mill which is today producing about 2000 metric tons of extruded floating fish feed per year,” adds Dr. Anyanwu.
“Our firm is owned both by Nigerians and foreigners. We hire Nigerians, and our investments are intended to get Nigeria fish self-sufficient,” says Adekunle Yusuf, Manager of the NIOMR Badore Fish Feed Mill. The Badore Fish Feed Mill employs about 36 full-time workers with a yearly production capacity of about 2200 metric tons of fish feed.
For NIOMR, this is a model that could be replicated anywhere else in West Africa. For this to work, according to the Acting Executive Director of NIOMR, the research institute must allow the private companies the freedom to operate without interference but with some staff of the Institute working with the private company for monitoring and control. The institute’s staff make weekly reports on the operations of the private company.
More partnerships with private companies could be explored to include other critical sectors of aquaculture and fisheries like canning of fish, catfish broodstock banks, mass production of catfish and Tilapia fingerlings, fish stock assessment with NIOMR vessels and Lantern Fish Meal production.
Since the establishment of WAAPP – Nigeria Aquaculture NCoS, Nigeria has experienced substantial growth in fish farming. What this means is also that there is an increase in demand for fish feed, fingerlings, and other required technical knowledge to carry out best aquaculture practices.
The WAAPP – Nigeria Aquaculture NCoS is implemented by three Nigerian public research institutions namely NIMOR based in Lagos, the National Institute for Fresh Water Fisheries Research (NIFFR) based in New Bussa in Niger State and the Nigerian Stored Product Research Institute (NSPRI), based in Ilorin, Kwara State.