Fish farmers in Nigeria have lauded Olam Agri for the recent improvement in productivity levels in the aquaculture segment, attributing this to the company’s investments in the value chain. Speaking during a recent value chain review exercise, the farmers attested to the business’ efforts at raising operating capacity in the aquaculture sector.
Olam Agri in Nigeria, an agribusiness in food, feed and fibre started investing in the aquaculture value chain in 2017 through its feed milling unit. Before then, the sector was bedevilled with different challenges among which were poor knowledge of modern fish farming practices, inaccessibility of high-quality feed, high mortalities in hatcheries, slow growth in nursery phase and irregular sizes during harvest. This led the agribusiness to immediately set machinery in motion to address the challenges.
The agribusiness flew in one of its global aqua experts, Mr Matthew Tan, who trained and introduced local farmers to trendy fish farming practices. He also trained over 40 Olam Agri technical experts who continued to work with the farmers. Approximately 7,500 Nigerian fish farmers, among whom were women fish farmers, were equipped with the best aquaculture practices by the business’s team of experts. In addition, the agribusiness located a state-of-the-art feed mill in Ilorin to ensure a steady supply of quality and affordable fish feed to fish farmers.
Attesting to the business’ value chain impact, Mr Olatoye Fajimi, the Vice President of the Lagos State Catfish and Allied Farmers Association said, “Olam agri employs technical experts who go around to visit farms to work with the farmers to improve farm clusters’ productivity.”
Mr Lazarus Odafi, the owner of Odafi Fish Farm located within the Asejere Fish Farms cluster in Odogbolu, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, affirmed, “Olam Agri came to our farm cluster and trained us on pond water management techniques, how to test PH level in the pond, and ways to curb feed waste. They helped us understand the science of catfish farming, especially how to create the right environment for the fish to thrive. These efforts have really impacted our businesses.”
He explained, “Since feed is one of the most important inputs in fish farming, Olam Agri increased the availability of feed to farmers. They help farmers gain access to feed in an instant by localizing their production in key hubs here in Nigeria. They also employ technical experts as salespeople who go around to visit farms to interact with the farmers to improve farm clusters’ productivity.”
Mrs Ogundeyi Dorcas of Tripple T Farms located in Ipaja said, ” The conversion rates of Olam Agri feed brands have been superb. An Olam Agri’s technical expert taught me how to manage disease in my pond and how to measure water quality. These inputs have made some impacts on my farm productivity level.”
Mrs Okpapi Lucy whose farm is in Alagbado, Lagos, said she struggled until she met an Olam Agri technical expert who introduced her to new methods of farming. She emphasised the business’ attention to customer improvement, ”Anytime I have issues on the farm and call them, they would show up almost instantly. They are hands-on. In fact, they would go into my pond to address any challenge I complained about. Olam Agri is one of the reasons I am still in business.’
Speaking about the business’ approach to raising productivity in the aquaculture value chain, Mr Ankit Puri, Vice President of the Animal Feed and Protein Unit, Olam Agri in Nigeria, said, “A crucial aspect of our success story is that we keep the fish farmers at the heart of our strategy. Apart from deploying experts to work with the fish farmers, we introduced best-in-class feed formulation processes, strong procurement systems, wide-reaching logistics and operational excellence into the industry.”
“We are the largest procurer of soy and corn locally. We move over 1 million metric tons of raw materials and animal feed across Nigeria to ensure the availability of feed to fish farmers. Our state-of-the-art feed mill is equipped with world-class tech such as vacuum cutting technology. Our fish feed brands are formulated and processed in line with international standards.”
Mr Ashish Pande, the Country Head of Olam Agri in Nigeria, explained, “Our rising investment in the fish farming value chain is part of our pursuit of a food & nutrition-secure and sustainable Nigeria under the Seeds for The Future (SFTF) initiative. The Seeds for the Future initiative is our social sustainability investment vehicle with five levers, namely, supporting farms and farmers, enabling wider education and skill development for young people, empowering indigent women, promoting health and nutrition across the country and reducing carbon emissions in our business operations.”