PROBLEM AND PROSPECTS OF SMALL SCALE FISH FARMERS
The study investigated the problem and prospects of small scale fish farmers, Nigeria using primary data. Purposive and multistage random sampling technique was used to collect the data from 105 respondents using well-structured and pre-tested questionnaire. These data were analysed using descriptive statistics, concentration ratio, price spread, net profit margins, farming margins analyses and multinomial logit (MNL) models. Tests of significant differences and effects were carried out using analysis of variance (ANOVA) and t-test techniques. Research results showed that average age for the fish farmers were 38years for producers, 42years for wholesalers and 46years for retailers, and also that majority of them were married. The results further showed that majority of the fish producers and retailers had West African Senior School Certificate while most wholesalers had First School Leaving Certificate. Also, the all farmers had average household size of 5 members with 18years farming experience for the producers, and 15years for the wholesalers and retailers, respectively. Furthermore, the study found that the farmers made use of referrals, price discount and home delivery to attract customers. The results showed that the market was under weak oligopoly at concentration ratio of 47%. This implies that the activities of the largest four fish farmers affected the price and demand for fish in the market. Further results showed that fish farming was profitable with channel 2 having the highest net margin of N141,095 per annum per processing firm compared to channel 1 (N127,850) and channel 3 (N137,030) while channel 1 had the highest farming efficiency of 342% relative to channels 2 and 3 with farming efficiencies of 144% and 97%, respectively. The results indicated that these differences in farming efficiency among the channels were significant at P<0.01. This implied that the longer the chain of distribution, the higher the farming cost and hence, the lower the farming efficiency. Furthermore, the study found that smokedrying was the predominant method of processing fish at frequencies of 64% for the producers, 90% for the wholesalers and 92% for the retailers. Use of hangovers was the dominant method of storing fish at frequencies of 40% for the producers, 76% for the wholesalers and 83% for the retailers. Also, motor-cycle was the dominant method of transportation of fish for the producers and wholesalers at frequencies of 73% and 61%, respectively, while use of bus/taxi was dominant for the retailers at frequency of 76%. Further results showed that there were challenges facing fish farming at an average of 2.74 on a 4-Point Likert rating scale. Lack of capital, seasonality of fish business, lack of government assistance, produce deterioration, lack of storage facilities, poor extension services and debt were the factors indicted for challenging fish farming. More so, the results showed that socioeconomic characteristics accounted for the vertical differentiation of fish farming into channels 1, 2 and 3 by 68%, 87% and 92%, respectively. Marital status, household size, value of fish and membership of cooperative unions were the factors that significantly drove vertical differentiation of fish farming positively at P<0.05 while the effects of age and sex were significant and negative at P<0.05. Firewood splitting, fish transportation, loading/off-loading of fish, fish packaging, fish processing and fish smoking were the activities that both males and females participated in. This implied that the participation of both males and females will enhance the farming of fish. The study recommended policies that will enhance that profitability and efficiency of fish farming.