Fisheries products provide more than 60% of the total protein intakes in adults especially in the rural areas in Nigeria (Adekoya: 2004). With an estimated annual per capita fish consumption of 13.3 kg in 2013, fish represents an important dietary element and one of the few sources of animal protein available to many Nigerians. In 2015, the total fisheries production was estimated at 1 027 000 tonnes, to which marine catches contributed 36 percent, inland waters catches contributed 33 percent and aquaculture 31 percent. Fishery sector contributed to 0.5 percent of national GDP in 2015.
With total fish imports amounting to about USD 1.2 billion and exports valued at USD 284 390 million in 2013, Nigeria is a net importer of fishery products thus making fish farming a very important venture in sustaining animal protein supply in the country. The sure way of boosting fish production and moving Nigeria towards self-sufficiency in fish production is by embarking on commercial fish farming especially catfish farming. Many species of fish are farm produced all over the world, but Catfish especially Clarias gariepinus is taking the lead because of its uniqueness.
Apart from providing a source of income, catfish production in Nigeria reduces the rate of unemployment and increases the Gross Domestic Products. Catfish production fetches a higher return than tilapia as it can be sold live at the market and requires less space, time and money investments in its production.
The demand for Catfish in Nigeria is unprecedented so much so that no matter the quantity supplied into the market, it would be consumed by ready buyers. This is so because of its low caloric value, low carbohydrate content, high in protein, low in fat, it is quick and easy to prepare and above all, it tastes great and can be found in any of the various recreation centres in Nigeria especially restaurants, fast food outlets and bars prepared as either pepper soup or as Point and Kill barbeque.
Studies conducted has revealed that production has remain low due to inadequate supplies from the local catfish farmers resulting from the use of poor quality catfish seeds, inadequate information, high cost of feeds, traditional techniques, small size of holdings, poor infrastructural facilities and low capital investment.
Result of studies conducted also indicated that catfish production is a highly lucrative business venture. The marketing of the fish is also through a rather simplistic system that sees the market women come to the farm to buy at the farm gate. However, investment in value addition and direct-to-retail marketing has been proven to enhance profitability by an additional 8% to 10%.