Capacity building for local fish farmers - Aller Aqua Nigeria's model
Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, has held the title of the largest aquaculture producer in sub-Saharan Africa. The thriving fish farming industry owes its success mainly to the efforts of small and medium-scale fish farm businesses, contributing over 70% of the nation's 600,000MT of farmed fish.
However, these small and medium-scale farmers, particularly rural farmers, have faced significant challenges in accessing technical and business training. This lack of support has hindered their ability to grow their enterprises efficiently and sustainably.
Aller Aqua Nigeria took a significant step forward by recognizing the need to bridge the gap and aiming to uplift the livelihoods of these hardworking contributors to the aquaculture industry.
For more than 8 years, Aller Aqua Nigeria has invested in providing technical, management, and business workshops for fish farmers across the country. This initiative has resulted in a considerable increase in the knowledge and capacity of more than 8,000+ attendees over the years across Nigeria. However, with continued market research, Aller Aqua Nigeria realized that there was still a segment of farmers left behind - those living and farming in remote locations and villages with few commercial activities.
To address this, the company devised a new approach to empower and support even the most distant fish farming communities. Aller Aqua Nigeria began first by employing farm extension officers whose mission was to identify and connect with the farmers in these remote local communities. These officers became the vital link, bringing knowledge and opportunities to these underserved communities.
Once these communities were identified, Aller Aqua Nigeria implemented an innovative "farm cluster" training model. In this model, technical tools, farm management tips and good management practices were shared and demonstrated directly on the local farmers' farms. By offering hands-on learning experiences, Aller Aqua Nigeria ensured that the knowledge imparted was practical and immediately applicable. These help the farmers learn and implement the best practices tailored to their specific needs, enabling them to improve their activities sustainably.
Beyond skills enhancement, this approach brought a critical opportunity for inclusion. Many small farmers, who once felt isolated, are now part of a supportive network where their voices are heard, and their concerns addressed. These farmers now had a platform to contribute and actively participate in the growth of the aquaculture industry. The farm cluster training approach has boosted their technical expertise and empowered them to make informed decisions for their farms' social, environmental, and financial well-being.
The positive impact of these sessions has been overwhelming, with farmers expressing gratitude for finally being recognized and heard.
One farmer, who had to travel more than 150km to a nearby town to attend previous trainings proclaimed, "We are extremely excited that Aller Aqua took the initiative to bring customised technical solutions to our villages. The company has shown particular interest in the growth of our farming business and have made aquaculture more interesting and profitable for us. Thank you Aller Aqua! Let's grow together!"
Olumide Oyedare, a technical sales officer at Aller Aqua Nigeria, shares, "We have been able to bring simple technical tools to these farmers and train them in a more personalized manner, helping them improve the results from their farms."
"The farmers have a lot to say about their challenges. We sit with them, under the tree or in their farm sheds, listening to their experiences firsthand and providing insights to aid their farming operations", says Ibila Benjamin, a Regional Sales Manager at Aller Aqua Nigeria.
"Aller Aqua Nigeria's unwavering dedication to capacity building for local fish farmers is not just about the number of farmers reached; it's about creating a thriving, interconnected community. As these farmers continue to grow and flourish, so does the aquaculture industry in Nigeria. We want to remain at the forefront of that", says Lasisi Nurudeen, the Managing Director/Country Manager at Aller Aqua Nigeria.
For us at Aller Aqua, sustainability is a fundamental component of our strategy, and we continue to act in insightful ways, showing our commitment to driving the profitable development of aquaculture in Africa.
As gold sponsors to the Aquaculture Africa 2023, coming up from 13 – 16th November, in Lusaka, Zambia, our teams from Nigeria and across the continent will be sharing expert knowledge on our activities, their impact across Africa, and how we envision and invest in a more sustainable future for aquaculture.