Glut is a common occurrence in catfish market. It is a period of time when demand for catfish drops significantly. It happens annually, usually when supply is a bit higher than demand towards the tail end of the raining season. New catfish farmers whose catfishes mature around this period may not be encouraged to continue in the business. However, to some old catfish farmers, glut is an unavoidable experience that must be well managed. In the past, farmers usually plan their stocking to avoid the period of glut.
Recently, farmers may not be able to predict the time in which glut will occur in the year. As a matter of fact, glut now occurs in the period we least expect due to constant changes in our economy. You might not really bother with what happens during the period of glut in catfish market if only your farm can shun the market situation and focus on feeding till the time sales will improve again. My experience in catfish farming has taught me that sooner or later demand will come for your catfishes irrespective of their sizes.
Generally, control of glut is out of reach of individual farmers. You may not understand my statement here until we are able to do justice to causes of glut in catfish market.
- September/October’s Harvest: It is a known fact that bulk of catfish productions are done in the South. In Southern Nigeria, raining season starts around April. Many catfish farmers take advantage of rain in this period to stock. After five months, there is mass production of fishes because farmers usually stock during the same period of time. Demand remains unchanged during this period but supply is too large for the market, causing glut. Farmers that understand this period reduce their price tag to attract customers that are ready to capitalize on the market situation to exploit farmers. A credit sale is the only way out for farmers who are ready to sell by all means. Many farmers usually lose their capital to dubious buyers who will buy on credit and refuse to payback completely or will not pay at all. This is the period when buyers always give report of dead fishes on their way to the market. The market situation remains like this until the festive season in December.
- Flood and other Natural Elements: There comes a time of the year when catfish farmers are forced to sell their fishes against their will. This period is usually during high rainfall density. Rivers and other water bodies overflow their channels to catchment areas where earthen ponds are found. Once some farmers are affected by flood, others offer their fishes for sale due to fear of floods that may still occur. This results in excess supply over demand.
- Fasting Periods: Ramadan is a fasting period that at least 80 percent of Nigerian adult Muslims participate in. During this period, activities reduce to the barest minimum at canteens, hotels, and nightclubs… up to at least 45 percent according to my judgment. Demand for catfish falls by almost 30 percent. Also, celebrations and parties are less colorful during Ramadan.
- Civil Unrest: Many Nigerians were displaced from their places of abode and markets when Boko Haram attacks were at its peak. Catfish distribution across the country was greatly affected and some areas were cut off from catfish supply. Any form of civil unrest in the country can affect the distribution channel of catfish to where they are needed. When normal market activity is altered by unrest in the country, catfish market is affected negatively.
- Government policies: Policies of government bothering on urban renewal (demolition and re-building of markets and neighborhood), relocation of market, and non-payment of workers’ salaries, inflations and importations of competitive products have direct impact on demand for catfish in the market. All these could cause artificial glut. In fact some groups of middlemen that buy catfish have a way of inducing artificial glut through conspiracy.
I believe glut in catfish market will become the thing of the past if only economy of the country can be worked on by those concerned. New farmers may not be encouraged in catfish farming if the annual trend of glut continues.