#BounceExclusive: ‘My Fish Farm Could Generate N2Billion In 12 Months’ – Daniel Enebeli
One of the most popular agribusiness in Nigeria is fish farming and for very uncommon reasons.
Gone are the days when the only means of getting fish is by catching it with the hook, line and sinker.
The contemporary farm practice has made it possible to grow fish on farms and control input.
Demand is increasing for fish and fish protein, which has resulted in widespread over-fishing in wild fisheries.
China provides 62% of the world's farmed fish. As of 2016, more than 50% of seafood was produced by aquaculture.
The 2008 global returns for fish farming recorded by the FAO totaled 33.8 million tonnes worth about $US 60 billion.
That was 9 years ago - for 2016, the figures have doubled and looks to keep improving.
Daniel Enebeli, the Managing Director of Best Breed Aquaculture Limited tucked away in Epe, Lagos State, spoke to Bounce News, on the good, the bad and ugly sides of fish farming in Nigeria.
The University of Port-Harcourt finance graduate is seeking to leave a legacy of productivity while exploring new grounds especially exportation of fish as a commodity.
"I have always wanted to do something where Africa has the biggest comparative advantage. Do not want to be a local champion. I felt it will be difficult for us to top the world through finance because in the western world, finance has become so woven in technology that even developing quotes for finance products is quite a complex and hectic task. I wanted something that was more important and instrumental to the development of my people which is farming.
"If you look at the context of the Nigeria economy, agriculture takes about 70 percent of our GDP and I wanted to see how I can have the heaviest impact on the largest component of our GDP which is agriculture. In agriculture, I developed the interest in aquaculture because when I came back to Nigeria in 2010 after obtaining Masters degree in Econometrics from the University of Windsor, Canada and another Masters degree in Quantitative Finance from the University of Columbia, I saw my brothers breeding fish in polyethynl makeshift tanks in woods. I felt while they were doing a good job of growing these fish in numbers, it could be better.
"Their system was mundane and there was technology that actually facilitated or expedited the process. So when I came back from my trip to different countries where there are very good fourth-generation aquaculture facilities, I tried to tie what I saw to the need we have for fish in Nigeria.
It is a general belief that money is a key factor in setting up most businesses. But beyond the capital, Daniel believes your passion and drive will make the project sustainable and successful.
“What has gone into setting up this fish farm facility is beyond money. Sweat, toil, blood and money. Honestly, money is a small part of this kind of project. It takes deep passion, committed effort and relentlessness to develop a project like this.
"You could have a billion naira and may never be able to build this facility because it goes beyond just having the money. You have stand attentively with the people working with you so if they put wool over your eyes, you would know.
“An ultra-modern fish farm facility like mine will cost you over N150 million but more importantly, your commitment and resilience will make it an enormous success.
"The location of the project is also very key as you must consider proximity to electricity grid, a functional drainage system, an elevated land where you can drain easily, ground water which is oxygenated.
The whole essence of setting up a business venture is to make profit. For someone who has been in the business for five years, Daniel says even though the business is making money but it's not yet there.
“We are profitable but not to the extent we would have loved to be. We managed to break even in the first one and half years but it took that long because of the what we want to achieve with the business. If we had wanted to start making profits in 6 months, we could have built the farm in the traditional way. But we decided to take the long-hard approach because we wanted to build a farm that will become a global icon in the future.
"At two years, this farm will be running at full capacity and we should be able to generate at least N2 billion revenue in a year.
Funding the project is one of the challenges Daniel faced in setting up the project as most financial institutions he approached were not willing to buy into his vision.
“When we started initially, I did not want to involve any bank, but my investors insisted we approach banks. I knew the banks were not going to help us because from experience, they usually do not give loans to start-ups like this because they really do not understand where you are going.
"Our system is not set up where you have bankers that will share your vision – they are not venture capitalists but bankers. A bank would give loans to already established businesses rather than start-ups.
Daniel told Bounce News that graduates seeking employment are really wasting their potential. He advised them to consider empowering themselves through farming and self developmental programs.
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