Fishing for a better future in Nigeria

Published by:
Focus Region:
Sub-Saharan Africa
Focus Topic:
Capacity Development
Agricultural Value Chains / Agri-Businesses

Aquaculture brings new opportunities to rural youth

When Daniel Chukwuma began looking for work in Nigeria five years ago, the odds were against him: the country had an estimated 11 per cent youth unemployment rate.

After a conversation with a friend, the then twenty-three-year-old decided to try something new: fish farming. He had no experience with aquaculture, but he’d enjoyed growing beans as a child. How different could rearing catfish be?

And so, Orisha Farms was born.

Before long, Daniel realised fish and beans need very different things. For one, fish need a lot more water. He began by keeping them in ponds, but digging ponds, finding suitable water sources and maintaining water quality proved difficult and expensive.

That’s when Daniel came across a tweet by IFAD about its new PRoSCAWA project in Nigeria and Ghana. The project promotes cage aquaculture, where fish are kept in large mesh enclosures placed in natural water bodies, like lakes or rivers, instead of in expensive ponds.

This way, fish farmers avoid buying land for ponds or maintaining costly water pumping systems. As the water is continuously moving, faecal and food residues do not accumulate beneath the cage, while the fish are raised in something close to their natural environment.

Daniel immediately saw the potential and knew just the spot to implement it: a nearby freshwater lake on the Afowo Waterfront in southern Nigeria.

Orisha Farms produce 3,000kg of fish every six months. © Orisha Farms Nigeria


With advice and support from ProSCAWA and WorldFish, a research institute dedicated to transforming aquatic food systems, he and the workers at Orisha Farms learned how to maintain and build cages, monitor fish health and water quality, and manage the farm.

ProSCAWA has trained over 500 small-scale farmers in Nigeria and Ghana on cage aquaculture. The project also established an online marketing platform to help fishers sell their products.

Before ProSCAWA, Orisha Farms produced 700kg of fish every eight months. After switching to a specially bred variety of tilapia which grows quickly, the number of annual harvests doubled. Today, the farm produces 3,000kg of fish every six months, which they sell for US$8,500.

This increased production has had knock-on effects along the value chain, with more opportunities for fish processing, transport and retail. Moreover, a quality protein source is now widely available and affordable for local communities.

Daniel is passing on what he knows and helping to reduce Nigeria’s youth unemployment rate while he’s at it: Orisha Farms is set to continue training aspiring fish famers in cage aquaculture across the country.

“Orisha Farms aims to be a key player in satisfying the growing demand for high-quality fish products while providing job opportunities in the local community,” says Daniel. “I hope Orisha Farms can be used as a model to increase fish production and promote sustainable farming across Nigeria.”

Originally published on
© Orisha Farms Nigeria

© IFAD/Andrew Esiebo