A major constraint in the development of the aquaculture industry in Lagos State was the issue of low productivity and poor marketing. To address this challenge, the APPEALS Project in Lagos State introduced the tilapia cage culture, a nutrition-sensitive and climate-smart technology. The technology was identified as one of the quick wins to achieve increase in productivity for aquaculture farmers in the state. Moreso, the aquaculture market has been clamouring for alternatives to catfish, which is now popular as a cultured fish.

At the Afowo cage culture cluster, one of the project intervention sites located in Badagry, there are 18 Commodity Interest Groups, CIGs consisting of 180 farmers with 184 cages constructed in the water body and producing about 950 metric tonnes of fish. To compliment the technology support and ease drudgery, the Project has also created enabling environment for business to thrive in the community through strategic infrastructure and market support. This was done through the rehabilitation of a 0.275 kilometre farm access road, leading the coastal area to the main road and a functional Jetty constructed for safe and easy access to the water body. 

To support processing activities and promote value addition, an aggregation/cottage-processing centre was also constructed and equipped with a blast freezer of 10-15 tons capacity per batch, cold room with 10-15 tons capacity per batch and a fish-descaling machine of 10-15kg capacity per batch. The blast freezing technology halts the spread of bacteria more quickly, resulting in fish products being fresh and safe. This makes it easier for off-takers to transport products to the market.

Sejiro Michael, a project supported beneficiary and Chairman, Ashfod Cooperative fish farmers in Badagry, said the introduction of tilapia cage culture has further opened up the aquaculture system business in Lagos State:

“The cage culture is the best investment anybody can go into because the cost of production is very low and the profit margin is high. For the catfish, you get between 20 to 30 per cent return on investment but, from tilapia, we are looking at about 40 per cent return on investment in seven months, which is massive, and a huge turnover. So, if we can do this, that means we can expand further. If I would want to ask for anything, I will use this opportunity to charge and encourage other farmers to come on board.”

He added: “The intervention from APPEALS Project is a new technology introduced to us by the project. APPEALS Project supported in the construction of the cages for our cooperative, which has about 10 members in the CIG. We have 10 members benefitting from 10 cages and 1,500 pieces of all Tilapia fingerlings as input and probiotic fish feed. It is a success story already from the performance looking at the size of what we got. In fact, I never imagined we could have Tilapia this big in just six to seven months. It is really awesome and I think this is just the way to go because the cost of production is far lesser than raising fish in concrete surface tanks or in earthen ponds. We don’t change the water, we only feed and maintain the cages”

The introduction of the cage culture technology has triggered a lot of interest from prospective investors and other donor agencies in Lagos State including World Fish. This has resulted in additional 6 CIGs adopting the technologies; and over 30 cages from the private sector already established and stocked with tilapia, outside of the project’s intervention. It is noteworthy that the business alliance model is working efficiently in the cluster and this has also triggered the export potential of tilapia fish to the neighbouring country of Benin Republic.

This cage culture technology under the intervention of the APPEALS Project has so far been replicated in 4 water bodies namely in Lagos State namely: Agbowa, Ebute-Afuye, Ise and Afowo with a total of 15 CIGs comprising of 10 members in each location across the state, supported by the APPEALS Project.