Dry Fish. From Farm to Table (Who Chop Dry Fish Pass For Africa)

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    • Africans love dry fish, but I never met a set of people who love and eat dry fish as Nigerians do. Even me as a self-trained chef, I love dry fish. If you gave me a bag of dry fish, I would pick through it until I ate the whole thing. Have you ever tried soaking garri with cold water and dry fish? Praise the LORD!
    • I was always fascinated by how dry fish is processed i.e grown and dried(from farm to table). So, I did a poll on my Facebook page and someone commented with Eketi’s name as one who knew a lot about the rearing of fish. Eketi is a story teller and a fabulous writer at ketimae.wordpress.com . She doesn’t know this, but I’m a silent fan of her writing. Anway, I spoke to her and here is what she had to say.
    • *Read:
    • Before the arrival of the fingerlings, the cement tanks are prepared for the arrival of the fingerlings. The tanks, which measure 10 x 6 feet, are filledhalfway with water and thirty 200 milligrams, capsules of tetracycline is added to each tank. Pumpkin leaf stalks are added to turn the water—the chlorophyll in them turns the water green and encourages the rapid growth of algae, which is necessary for the production of oxygen and the survival of the fish.
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      A cement pond being prepped for fingerlings.
  • The fingerlings are then transferred to the cement tanks in batches of 400 or 50o per tank.  Their first feed depends on their sizes. The very little ones are started out on 0.8-1.5mm of feed. We use either Coppen or Vital feed. Sometimes we produce our own feed.
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    Fish feed produced by vital feeds.
  • Our fish feed is made by combining several ingredients, such as wheat offal, blood meal, groundnuts, crayfish, etc.All these are mixed with hot water and pressed into pellets by a machine.
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    The feed is mixed in hot water and molded.

     

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    The machine is used to mould it to pellets.

     

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    These ones did not survive the trip from the buyers.

     

  • After three weeks or a month, the fish are sorted and the fast growers are separated from those lagging behind. The size of their feed is then increased; they can be fed a mix of 1.5 – 2 mm.The latter size is for those that are smaller in size.This sorting and separation must be done every month.
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    Water being drained out of the cement tanks.
  • The water has to be changed after two weeks. Gauze or a light fabric is placed at the mouth of the draining pipe to prevent the fishes from escaping with the water. This time however, no tetracycline or green stalks are necessary, as the algae now lines the sides and bottom of the tank. Boosters can be added (2 teaspoonful per tank for the powdered booster and 1 bottle to 10 litres for the liquid one. Mix/dissolve in a bucket before pouring into the tanks).Fish enzymes can also be added for optimal growth.
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    Happy fish, after the water in the pond has being changed.

     

 

There has to be balance in the pH level of the water. To ascertain this, the level can be tested using pH test kits. (These are expensive, and I kent chout.) So we devised an easier way to determine if the water in the tank is too acidic, is to observe the fish. Their skin begins to peel if the water is too acidic. Add lime to reduce the acidity. Now if the alkaline level is high, the fishes usually raise their heads out of the water. This may signify that the levels of oxygen or ammonia is very high. When this happens, the water should be changed.

  • Feeding is done twice a day for the older and bigger fish and thrice, for the smaller ones.
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    The alkaline level of or the ammonia in the water is more than normal. The water is filthy, the fishes are stressed and need oxygen. The water should be changed.
  • Large fishing nets are used to cover the tops of the cement ponds to prevent predators like hawks and kingfishers from stealing the fish; these birds often dive into the ponds and make away with their helpless prey.
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Any predator that comes for the fish will be blocked by this net. Sometimes, persistent predators such as the hawk may rip through the net in order to get the fish.
  • When the fish grow bigger, they are transferred to the earthen ponds. The earthen ponds are dug six to eight feet deep. The bottom and half the sides of the ponds are then covered with a tarp, to ensure that the water doesn’t drain back into the ground. The tarp is then covered with earth. The walls of the ponds are then fortified with bags filled with sand, stacked one on the other. This prevents the fish from swimming out of the ponds whenever the water level rises.

 

  • Water from the cement ponds are channelled into the earthen ponds. The earth acts as natural purifier, sieving the water and leaving the nutrients and oxygen behind.
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    An earthen pond filled with water from the cement ponds.
  • To make reasonable profit, it’s best to start selling the fish after three or four months. By then, they should be weighing between 0.8 to 1 kg.
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    Fish sorted and selected for smoking.

 

  • To dry or smoke the fish, we use a metal smoking hut on stilts and firewood. Inside this contraption are wire mesh trays on which the fish are laid out, and fire is set underneath. It takes about a couple of days for the fish to get dry or smoked enough to keep for days without going bad.
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    The oven used for smoking fish.
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    Fish drying in the oven.
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    Well-smoked fish that’s ready to be shipped off.
  • After a great assignment like this one given by Nma is done, she owes Eketi a plate of what is in the diagram below. This dish may be accompanied by further questions.
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  • Thank you dear Eketi, your fish peppersoup is on the way 🙂

 

 

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