Diversification is the process by which a smallholder increases the diversity (i.e. number) of its income generating activities (Ellis 2000). Often studied in association with adaptation and accumulation, it is a strategy used by smallholder coaster fish farmers to secure income and consumption needs whilst minimizing the risks of failing to do so. The purpose of diversification is thus to develop portfolios of income generating activities with low covariate risk among their components (Ellis 2000). Most studies recognize the benefits of diversification as a means to achieve increased income and livelihood security. In particular, Carter and May (1999) emphasized the role of flexible government schemes and policies in promoting diversification, such as the removal of financial, legal and fiscal boundaries (such as market access, transportation and commodity taxes) to uptake of new activities, while taking into account regional/local specificities and households’ motives for diversifying their income sources.

A distinction of relevance in the literature on diversification is that between coping and adapting. Coping is a short-term response to decreasing income or food supply. Adapting, on the other hand, is a gradual and long-term response used to buffer the household against future potential shocks and changes, usually classified as a permanent strategy (Davies 1993). Risk being the decision maker’s “subjective perception of uncertainty” (Kostov and Lingard 2001) and uncertainty being a large contributor to smallholder fishermen vulnerability imply that diversification may be adopted as an ex-ante strategy, by choice (Reardon et al. 1992), allowing smallholder farmers to better cope with unforeseen shocks, adverse events and trends, and seasonality (Alwang et al. 2002). Furthermore, there is need for intensification of effort towards developing specialization other field of endeavour towards sustainability by smallholder coaster fishermen for diversification to place. In the same way intensification does not need to follow specialization, diversification does not always mean substitution. In Africa, it was observed that rural people do not specialize in one activity to the exclusion of all others, but rather increase their portfolio of economic pursuits to encompass a wider range of productive areas (Hussein and Nelson1998).

Consequently, the term ‘alternative’ livelihood activity should be used cautiously depending on whether a new household enterprise replaces an existing one, or complements it, either through integration (for example the backyard processing of a home-grown product) or through simple addition to the existing household activity portfolio. Given the range of nuances and associated dimensions to ‘diversification’, how should it be understood in application to coaster smallholders, and what form of diversification is prevalent among them. For example, should fishing-associated activities, ranging from boat building to fish frying or ice making, be understood as part of diversification processes, or if diversification be understood as doing something completely unrelated to the original activity engaged in (for example, bicycle maintenance for a fisherman). However, many factors, often context-specific, influence the process of diversification, both within and outside fishing.

The determinants of diversification have been increasingly reported in the literature, though frequently focusing on farmers, and have shown consistency across time and space (Barrett et al. 2001).  In a general context, many factors, of a ‘pull’ (positive) or ‘push’ (negative) nature, influence diversification of smallholder coastal aquaculture and its outcomes. IMM et al. (2005) have proposed a useful sustainable aquaculture-based framework to classify such factors as a means to better understand the processes of aquaculture diversification in coastal smallholder farmers.


Inadequate knowledge and skills obstruct access to alternative employment niches, especially in the non-farm sector. In the case of Nigerian Smallholder coastal aquaculture, children’s school attendance is particularly challenged by the migrating patterns of fishing families, as well as high cost of education, lack of transport and facilities and high, but seasonal, profitability of the fishing activity. Undoubtedly, unless addressed through more flexible literacy and education schemes for fishing households, this will impact on the building of human capital, with negative consequences on individuals’ capacity, not only to uptake future employment opportunities within or outside of the fisheries sector, but also to engage more fully in community life as citizens (FAO 2006). Moreover, the level of entrepreneurship amongst farmer-fishers of inland areas of Nigeria is very high. Successful farmer-fishers were those who not only had developed a mix of activities, but also were able, through their managerial capabilities, personal attributes such as flair and attitude to work and entrepreneurship, and social networks, to perceive opportunities and capitalize on them, even in highly resource-constrained environments.

Cultural factors, such as caste, can in fact counteract the advantage and flexibility of wealthier smallholders to engage in diverse income streams and adapt to changing circumstances. Wealthier fishermen in the coastal areas of Nigeria are bound by their caste, specialized skills and status and were unable to diversify their fishing techniques, and as a result, were less able to cope with variations in fish catches and exploit niche fish species than scheduled caste – so-called unprofessional fishers – who were freer to use a wider range of fishing gears.


The following are the objectives of this study:

1.  To examine the level of diversification of smallholder coastal aquacultures in Nigeria.

2.  To identify the factors that necessitated diversification of smallholder coastal aquaculture in Nigeria.

3.  To determine the advantages of diversification of smallholder coastal aquaculture in Nigeria.


1.  What is the level of diversification of smallholder coastal aquacultures in Nigeria?

2.  What are the factors that necessitated diversification of smallholder coastal aquaculture in Nigeria?

3.  What are the advantages of diversification of smallholder coastal aquaculture in Nigeria?


The following are the significance of this study:

1.  The outcome of this study will reveal the need for diversification of smallholder coastal aquaculture in Nigeria.

2.  This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of the effect of personality trait on student’s academic performance, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area.


This study will cover diversification strategies for smallholder coastal aquaculture in Nigeria.


Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.


Alwang, J., Siegel, P.B & Jorgense, S.L. 2002. Vulnerability as viewed from different disciplines. Paper presented at the International Symposium: “Sustaining Food Security and Managing Natural Resources in Southeast Asia

– Challenges for the 21st Century”, 8-11 January 2002, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Barrett, C.B.; Reardon, T. & Webb, P. 2001. Nonfarm income diversification and household livelihood strategies in rural Africa: concepts, dynamics and policy implications. Food Policy, 26(4): 315-331.

Carter, M.R. & May, J. 1999. Poverty, livelihood and class in rural South Africa. World Development, 27(1): 1-20.

Davies, S. 1993. Are coping strategies a cop out? IDS Bulletin, 24(4): 60-72.

Ellis, F. 2000. Rural Livelihoods and Diversity in Developing Countries. Oxford, UK, Oxford University Press

FAO 2006. Promoting literacy to improve livelihoods in fishing communities: Policies linking education to fisheries management. New Directions in Fisheries. A series of policy briefs on development issues No. 05. Rome, FAO.

IMM, CFDO & CBNRM LI. 2005. Understanding the factors that support or inhibit livelihood diversification in coastal Cambodia. An output from DFID-funded research in Cambodia. IMM Ltd, Exeter.

Hussein, K. & Nelson, J. 1998. Sustainable livelihoods and livelihood diversification. IDS Working Paper, 69. Brighton, UK, Institute of Development Studies.