Nigeria: Four businesses seizing opportunities in the fish industry

Dupe Killa-Kafidipe is the founder of Platinum Fisheries

Dupe Killa-Kafidipe is the founder of Platinum Fisheries

Fish constitutes roughly 40% of Nigeria’s protein consumption, with the annual demand reaching 3.6 million tonnes. Of this, about 2.5 million tonnes of frozen fish are imported each year. In this article, we spotlight four organisations harnessing the potential of Nigeria’s fish industry.

1. Entrepreneur grows smoked catfish venture into diversified food business

Smoked catfish is a local delicacy enjoyed throughout many countries in West Africa, especially in Nigeria. It is usually prepared by drying the fish over a wood fire on the side of the road. However, the lack of quality preparation techniques often leads to a finished product that is well below standard and likely to contain impurities like sand. To address this issue, David Galadima, an entrepreneur with a background in engineering, established a food-processing company called Graemoh Foods. This venture was sparked by his brother’s small catfish farm, started in 2016 in Nigeria’s northern Kaduna State.

Initially, Galadima smoked the catfish at a local drying centre on racks above the ground, but this still resulted in a substandard product. To improve the quality of his produce, Galadima raised funds from a combination of family, friends, and grants, which he used to purchase a fish-drying machine. “We invested a lot in equipment, now we do everything in-house. You can’t get quality output without quality production; that is our main goal, to align ourselves with quality production,” he notes.

Though the processing plant is based in Kaduna State, Graemoh Foods navigates local logistical challenges to transport its products to cities as far as Lagos and Port Harcourt. Despite frequent breakdowns of their trucks on poor roads, which risks the catfish spoiling, the company’s robust packaging enables the product to remain edible for approximately three weeks. Read the full article

2. Tapping into Nigeria’s high demand for fish

Dupe Killa-Kafidipe established Platinum Fisheries, a Lagos-based aquaculture company, in 2016. Focusing on the domestic market, the firm produces catfish, tilapia, mackerel, and snails. Initially, it sourced fertilised eggs and young hatchlings from third-party suppliers, often making grueling six-hour journeys to Kwara State. Despite the challenging logistics of temperature-controlled transport and careful handling to prevent losses, the company successfully completed its first production cycle by year’s end, yielding 5,000kg of catfish.

The company shifted focus towards selling in larger quantities to business customers such as public seafood markets and factories producing packaged seafood products. It also established a hatchery to ensure a consistent supply of seedlings and decrease dependence on external providers. As demand soared, Platinum Fisheries began supplying seedlings to other fish farms, with orders occasionally reaching up to 40,000 units. In a further move to trim production costs in 2022, Platinum Fisheries added a feed mill to its operations.

Killa-Kafidipe believes Platinum Fisheries has only just begun to tap into the significant local demand for fish products. “There are 200 million Nigerians that need to be fed [and] we currently import 85% of our seafood needs,” she says. Read the full article

3. Dried catfish business caters for both the local and international market

Situated near Akure in southern Nigeria, Osky Catfish Hatchery Grow-out & Processing Facility raises and dries catfish for both domestic consumption and international export. The business was set up by Femi Eniola, who returned to Nigeria in 2018 after training in the Philippines, where he discovered they were utilising catfish bred in Nigeria. Osky manages the entire value chain, from hatching to growth and processing, using an oven to dry the catfish. The business processes about four tonnes of fresh catfish on a weekly basis. Read the full article

4. Investor bullish on the import substitution of fish

Danladi Verheijen, managing partner of private equity firm Verod Capital, highlights the import substitution of fish as a substantial opportunity, pointing to villages in Norway where the entire economy is based on growing a particular type of fish (stockfish) sold to Nigeria. Trawlers from Southeast Asia also fish in the waters outside Lagos and Accra, process [the catch] in their countries and then sell it back into Africa. To capitalise on this, Verod has invested in fish-farming business Shaldag. “It grows fish at over 40 times the density of other local farms by using modern technology in their operations. The company produces processed, smoked catfish under the Shaldag brand. Nigeria imports over $600 million of fish a year, so this investment is an import substitution play,” Verheijin explains. Read the full article