Land is the most important factor of production in Agricultural practices. Be it crop or animal production, the importance of land cannot be overemphasized. Catfish farming is not exempted: Whatever method used to raise your fishes, land is very important.
Although Nigeria can boast of hundreds of thousands square kilometers of arable lands, but not all these can support catfish farming especially as far as earthen ponds is concerned.
The choice of land for establishment of catfish farm is technical. Hence, not every piece of land can suit this purpose. Some people believe that once a piece of land is waterlogged catfish farm will do well in such environment, yet some other factors must be considered. Some of these factors will be considered here to guide potential catfish farmers who have intention of securing land for catfish farm purpose.
1. Timing of Your Purchase: Securing land for your catfish farm has a lot to do with right timing: Wait for the right time to buy. This will not only save you some unnecessary spending, but it will also protect you from wastage due to inability of the land acquired to serve intended purpose. Experience has taught me that the best time to buy land for your catfish farm is when dry season is at its peak. February ending/early March is the best time to secure land for your farm, though this depends largely on climatic zone of your country or the part of the country your farm falls into. Securing your land around the specified time will help you to know the true nature of the land you intend to buy. Some lands could be waterlogged or swampy during the wet season but as soon as the rainy season is gone, the water on the land becomes dried up. More so, some streams are not dependable because they take their source from runoff water and are seasonal in nature. You get to know all this if you inspect the land at the right time.
From another point of view, the best time to buy a piece of land watered by non-seasonal stream or river is when the rain is at its peak. This will help you to know the catchment area of such river to prevent/guide against flood in the future by moving far away from the catchment area.
2. Geological Survey of the Zone Your Land Falls into: In case your ponds/farm will need an alternative source of water, groundwater should be able to render some sort of support. Paying a visit to the geological survey office of the area you have in mind in order to ascertain the availability or unavailability of ground water won’t be a bad decision.
3. Flood History of the Area: Some areas are prone to flooding, and it will not be out of place to find out the history of the area you have in mind in relation to flood. This will guide you on the best way to construct your ponds and also how thick your pond dikes should be.
4. Soil: Soil type, texture and mineral composition of a land has a lot to do with the suitability of land for your fish farm. Soil type and texture will provide you with necessary information about water retention capacity of the pond, construction methods to be adopted (some ponds need sand bag after construction) and the depth of the pond that will be constructed. Moreover, some ponds or farms perform better than others due to the mineral composition of the soil where the ponds are situated, all things being equal. Therefore, it will not be out of place to carry out some sort of soil test before paying for a piece of land that will be used for your farm, especially when some millions are involved.
5. Adjoining Environment: In short, adjoining environment refers to activities going on in the surrounding environment of the potential fish farm. Consideration of the adjoining environment of your farm is the beginning of success or otherwise in this business. Some activities such as manufacturing, where chemical wastes are being generated, are not compatible with catfish farm. It is also important to ensure that the source of water available for your farm use is not the one that drains liquid waste from certain manufacturing company. The source of water to your farm should be fresh and void of toxic waste. Adjoining environment mentioned in this article may also include surrounding villages/settlements. Understanding of your environment will help you to know how best to secure your farm.
6. Government Policy: This might not be taken serious in this part of the world, in a country where almost everything goes.
Government policy on the area you want to acquire will tell you if the land is right according to local plan for the area in question, the acquisition status of the land, the ownership status of the land and land use zoning map for the area. Understanding of this will enhance your level of knowledge on whether or not the land is right for the intended use. Some unscrupulous character sells land acquired by government to innocent farmers who will not take his time to check for authenticity from local planning authority before payment is made.
7. Accessibility: Access to your farm refers to the closeness of your farm to the market. Market in this context refers to where you get your raw materials and how you dispose or sell your output. This factor is very important except you are super rich and can create your own road to your farm.
Don’t rush to acquire land for your catfish farm. It will do you a lot of good if you can consult the experts on this matter because what is worth doing at all is worth doing well.