By Mercy Omoike
An aqua-culturist, Mr Eteobong Amah, has raised the alarm over the penchant of some fish farmers to use chemicals to preserve fish.
Speaking in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Thursday, Amah warned that using chemicals to preserve fish would be dangerous to health.
“One thing we warn local farmers against is the addition of chemicals for preservation of fish. By adding chemicals to preserve fish you will be endangering human lives.
“The only thing fish farmers and processors are advised to add in fish preservation is salt.”
Amah said there was need for local fish farmers to embrace modern techniques in preserving their produce to increase value.
The fish farmer lamented that most Nigerian fish farmers usually run into losses, owing to their inability to sell or preserve their produce.
According to him, appropriate preservation of fish harvested in Nigeria will boost value and make the fish harvested locally to be like imported frozen variety.
“One major challenge local fish farmers face is their inability to offset or sell off their fish instantly. When they do not see instant buyers, they are forced to sell at a loss.
“However, if they can step up their preservation methods, they will improve the value-chain of the fish and get good returns.
“The worth of a preserved fish is higher than that of fresh fish. For example, a fresh catfish sells lower than the dried preserved one.
“But if our local fish varieties are well preserved, they will sell higher like their foreign counterparts that can spend up to six months to one year on the sea without getting bad.
“If our fishes are well preserved, then local farmers will have control over the market and will sell at very good prices.”
Amah advised fish farmers to try to understand market demands to maximize their profits all year round.
“Local fish farmers should consider the business aspect of fish farming through adequate preservation and improving of the value-chain.
“If the fish farmers know the market demands, they can preserve their fish to meet market requirements and increase the value of their stocks.
“There are basically two major ways of fish preservation, which is either freezing or drying the fish.
“For freezing of locally farmed fish, we usually have challenges with power supply and cannot depend on it to have our fish preserved.
“Therefore, farmers can also preserve their fish by drying them at different temperatures, depending on their market value.
“There are some markets that want hard texture fish. It simply means the farmer will have to increase the temperature of drying the fish, so that it can last longer.” (NAN)