Agronomist Usman Emmanuel has been a farmer all his life and in fisheries business and consultancy for over three decades.
How did you become a fishery expert?
I grew up in Kaduna city. My father was a police officer who is also a farmer and I developed the love from there. He told me that it is better for me to study agriculture and that I can set up my own venture. He said that when one is on his own, he is the architect of his own success or failure.
Where did you study?
When I passed my JAMB examination, I secured admission to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where I was offered Veterinary Medicine, but I went to the management and said I wanted to study Agriculture, they were shocked, but I insisted. I graduated in 1987 and I majored in fisheries, specializing in cat fish.
For the mandatory National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) I was posted to Borno State and while there to an Agricultural Development Project (ADP) in the outskirts of Bama Local Government in 1987 and I learnt the informal way of fish farming as the locals used net to cordon an area, put fingerlings/juveniles and fatten them to jumbo size for sale.
Where did you acquire expertise on tilapia?
I went to Israel from 1988 to 1991 and I majored in tilapia fishery production.
Where are you practicing your fishery business?
I relocated to Abuja in 1992. I like animal husbandry and do not fancy crop farming and as I progressed, I settled down for fishery. During practical in the university, I preferred animal husbandry of goats, sheep, cattle and poultry. But poultry has its own issues.
Where did you start your own pond and with which specie?
In Gwagwalada. I started with cat fish and then tilapia. Tilapia is easier to breed.
How many people have you trained?
I have trained 15 people who are now masters in fishery, hatchery, feed production and farming.
Do you go into other businesses other than fisheries?
I do consultancy for many people, including some generals and many others.
What are the challenges for fish, livestock and crop farmers?
There are challenges like pesticides, insecticides and feeds. The challenge is if you use foreign feeds, you won’t make profit as foreign feeds are expensive. Though the local feed which was sold for N4,000 has now gone up to N6,000. Feed is the major problem of fishery.
How do you cope with security?
Here we don’t have much problem. It is not a major problem here in Ruga village near the City Gate as some pond owners have dogs.
How much is starting capital?
An investor can start with N500,000 to N600,000 with a dug-out pond or concrete pond.
Is it true that fish traders make the most profit?
Of course the fish vendors or traders make the most profit; ask them in Kado Fish Market, the official fish market in Abuja.