The possible market outlet for Table Fishes

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Fishes can be sold to the middle women and men that will re-sell; it can also be sold to restaurants and pepper soup joints. Arrangements can be made with big eateries where continental dishes are served. Importation is also a possibility depending on the capacity of your fish farm.

In a nutshell, fish is consumed by the vast majority and you are sure of having your fish disposed anytime they are ready for sell. It is also advisable that some fish farmers associations within your localities for possible linking with available market.

Different Ways to Sell Fish

The fish farmer can market his stock via word of mouth and advertisement. The farmer can use the various advertisement platforms like television, radio, or news papers.

They can also use printed media like handbills, posters, billboards and leaflets. The major thing is for potential buyers to know the table fish is available for sale.

Processed or live catfish

The fish farmer can sell his fish either processed or live or both. The method depends on the market and farmers capacity. The fish farmer can process the smaller fish in his stock into smoked fish and sell to market women or individuals.

Another way is to make the fish into barbecue, steamed fish or boiled fish pepper soup. For this method you need to have an outlet such as a bar or restaurant. You can sell your live fish either in bulk or singly to individual buyers.

Ways to Sell your Fishes

(1) Bulk sales

The major way catfish farmers sell their stock is in bulk to market women. There are market women who specialize in catfish farming and buy the fish in bulk.

In turn they sell retail to individuals at high sums making large profit. The market women make huge profit more than the fish farmer who earns based on size and quantity sold.

To make appreciable earnings the fish farmer should sell his stock at current market price per kilogram. The price per kilogram in 2015 in Lagos Nigeria is 500 Naira so knowig the current price gives you an edge over the hard bargaining fish sellers.

(2) Sell retail

Selling retail will guarantee huge earnings because you are in full control of your sales. You can sell to individuals either by size or weight depending on your preference.

It might take time selling retail but you end up smiling all the way to the bank. If you decide on this method you can find your customers in various ways.

Use handbills and posters including banners to let your neighbors know you have fish for sale. Word of mouth is also very important, local paper publications and small bill boards.

(3) Employ a fish seller

Employing a fish seller is a smart way to offer your sales to potential customers. You get top price for your fish and make good earnings. The drawback to this method is capital loss form deceitful vendors who might cheat their employers.

(4) Open an outlet

If you are not averse to selling your own stock in the open market then you’ll make massive profit. Selling your stock yourself takes care of all aspects from production to sales.

Restaurants and bars sell catfish to their customers as pepper soup or barbecued. They source the fish from fish farmers and middlemen and are able to pay reasonably for the fish.

A fish farmer can build relationship with such outlets to supply them the fish. The farmer can own a barbecue or pepper soup outlet in such establishments.

Some restaurants and bars allow food vendors pay monthly sums for a space in their establishment.. The catfish farmer can leverage on this ready market to sell his fish.

4.1  Reasons why you should open a business outlet

If you have the finance to open a business outlet that services your produce then you will make huge profit. A business outlet guarantees maximum gain for your produce.

Other reasons are nearness to the market and price determination of your stock. Having an outlet helps you sell your stock faster and cuts out the middleman.

An additional advantage of opening an outlet is the development of a brand new business venture.

Types of outlets you can open

Starting a restaurant is a good idea because you can fashion different delicacies using catfish as the center piece.  Restaurants are big business and it affords you a new venue and profitable outlet for your produce.

(a) Open a bar

Bars are very popular in Nigeria and they service a host of native delicacies including steamed catfish, smoked catfish and catfish pepper soup.

Many bar push their catfish menu to customers because of the huge gain they make selling the fish. For example if 1kg of the fish was bought at N500 naira they can sell the same fish for N2000 naira.

(b) Open a fast food joint

Fast food is in vogue and attracts both young and old patrons. You need to leverage on this market to make huge gains selling your processed fish.

Barbecues are in high demand especially fresh fish and catfish barbecue. You can make huge profit opening a barbecue business while selling your fish for profit.

(c) Open a sales outlet

Sales outlets that sell live catfish make double what the fish farmer makes after growing his fish for six months. The best way to sell your fish with minimum costs is to open a market sales outlet.

The fish farmer can go further by grilling or smoking the fish for sale. Any of the above format works and you only need to find the one you are most comfortable doing.

(d) Rent a space

There are a few places where organic fruits and vegetables are sold by local farmers. A fish farmer can rent space at such places to sell his produce directly to customer.

The drawback is that such gathering hardly last two weeks, so use the trading opportunity wisely.

(5) Sell Abroad

You can process you catfish, package and sell the fish via export it to buyers. Before you export your fish you need to have a buyer, and package them according to strict export requirement.

You need to prevent contaminants getting into your fish, get export license and follow government regulations. Exportation is tough but highly rewarding if you succeed.

(6) Fish farmers that only produce fingerlings

Breeders of catfish have a different market than growers. The breeders only have one market which is selling to small and large scale fish farmers.

They get customers by word of mouth, advertisement in newspapers and posters. They can also deposit handbills to catfish feed sellers for farmers who buy their feed concentrate.

Table 21. Types of retail fish sellers in the rural markets

Fish seller category

Av. sellers per market

Percent of all sellers

Dry fish seller



Preserved fish seller



Live fish seller



Fresh fish seller


– Small fish



– Large fish



Source: M-AEP survey conducted by the present author, 1995.

Fifty-five percent of fish sellers deal in fresh fish in rural primary markets, 17% sell live fish, and sellers of dry fish constitute 7%. Some vendors of small, fresh fish may be the fishermen themselves, who sell directly to the consumers or to the Beparies.

If they are, they sit in open places near the fish market and pay exorbitant tolls to extortionists. Thus they face high transaction costs for selling their fish in the market.

Competition is higher in retail markets than in any other kind of market, e.g. secondary or higher secondary markets. Prices of fish are determined by the direct interplay of demand for and supply of fish in retail markets.

Markets at all levels have retailing arrangements, that is, a group of retailers that sell fish to consumers. In general, conditions in urban and rural retail markets are not satisfactory regarding stalls, parking, spacing, sanitation, drainage and management. Bargaining, in terms of eye estimation, is still the common practice for pricing fish. Strict grading, sorting and price tagging are ignored in retailing. Quality of the products and a standard for weighing are not enforced at all. In such a situation, cheating and exploitation are unavoidable. Fair pricing according to grade, size, origin and freshness of the fish may not be possible in the absence of standard norms of marketing practices and a lack of enforcement by legal authorities. Thus, market access is limited for the economically weaker section of the consumers.

5.2 Fish-marketing channels

Domestic markets and distribution of fish are dominated by a large number of intermediaries. All fish traded internally and for export pass through private channels. Fish distribution usually involves four levels.

5.2.1 Primary markets

Markets located in villages, district headquarters or at a crossroads are considered primary markets They are usually near areas where fish are caught. Fishermen bring a variety of fishes (dominated by small fish from both open-water capture and from ponds) to the primary markets.

Fifty-two percent of such primary rural markets are held twice a week, 28% three times a week, and 20% are held daily. Of all these markets, 80% are open during morning-hours, particularly for trading milk, vegetables and fish (Market Survey, M-AEP, 1995) and are attended by a relatively small number of sellers and buyers compared to the usual afternoon markets.

5.2.2 Secondary markets

The Beparies take the fish bought from the Nikaries/fishermen/primary markets/landing points to the nearest Upazila or riverport markets by road, river or rail to sell to wholesalers or through Aratdars. From these secondary markets/assembly points the distribution of fish moves through different channels to urban markets/higher secondary markets by commissioned agents for wholesalers/Aratdars, or by other kinds of Beparies. Bhairab Bazar, Kuliarchar, Narshindi, Munshigonj, Deborghat (Sunamgonj), and Madaripur are landing points and secondary market centres for freshwater fish species.

5.2.3 Higher secondary markets

From secondary markets/fish assembly points, Beparies bring fish to the higher secondary markets serving large areas of consumer/terminal markets. The higher secondary market may consist of one or more wholesale markets or centres, where Aratdars deal in fish. These markets are well connected by road, river and rail.

Markets in district headquarters can be considered as higher secondary markets that are connected with several secondary markets for the supply of fish.

5.2.4 City or terminal markets

Paikers/retailers buy fish from wholesaling centres of higher secondary and secondary markets. They sell fish directly to consumers either through fixed stalls or by vending from head/rickshaws. From the start of the distribution channel for fish – at the secondary markets to the city or terminal markets – intermediaries operating on different levels perform marketing functions like cleaning, sorting, boxing, icing, re-packing and arranging of transportation, etc. At each market level, wholesalers and retailers may be supplying fish to local consumers.

The dominant marketing channels (product route to ultimate consumer) for freshwater fish for domestic consumption are as follows:

5.3 Market infrastructure and physical facilities

The market for fish is crowded at any level. Infrastructure facilities are important for marketing fisheries products domestically and for the physical development of markets. In cities, towns and river ports, city corporations and municipalities often provide infrastructure facilities in the form of pucca roofs, tinshades, pucca platforms, raised selling places and water connections. These physical facilities are emerging even in primary and assembly markets in rural areas through the initiatives of local governments and market management committees. However, washing and cleaning of spaces dedicated to selling fish, and disposal of wastes and residues do not meet hygienically acceptable standards. Physical facilities need to be improved. Fish traders and market managers need to be educated in maintaining sanitary and hygienic places for handling fish. During the summer and rainy season, fish spoil quickly. This results not only in lower prices but also poses health hazards.

Wholesale fish markets are located at secondary, higher secondary and in terminal markets, which may be located at Upazila headquarters, river ports, towns and in cities. The spaces in these markets are generally inadequate for handling highly perishable commodities like fish. However, ice blocks are available in almost all cities and river ports, but not in all Upazila wholesale markets, where waste is still high due to the deteriorating quality of the products sold.

5.4 Fish traders’ margins

Fish production centres are spread throughout remote areas in Bangladesh. Thus, a well-organized marketing system is necessary to transport fish to consumers in every region. A marketing system for fish includes transportation to and from the market, handling, storing, packaging, sorting, merchandizing, etc. An efficient marketing system enables the consumer to obtain fresh fish fresh at a reasonable price. Total cost of marketing fish includes all costs incurred by different types of intermediaries in the chain from producers to ultimate consumers. Marketing margins include costs of marketing and profit or loss incurred by all intermediates in the marketing channel. The marketing margin is the price intermediaries charge for all functions they perform. (Kohls and Uhl, 1980, p.230).

Table 22. Marketing cost (Tk) of intermediaries per quintal of fish handling in Mymensingh town

Cost items

Intermediaries involved


Percent of total cost





107 (27%)




22 (5%)

34 (27%)

30 (22%)




10 (8%)



Market tolls

9 (2%)

12 (9%)

10 (8%)



Aratdar’s commission

215 (54%)



Containers & baskets

8 (2%)

6 (5%)



Personal expenses

40 (10%)

77 (62%)

66 (49%)




2 (2%)



Storage and icing

12 (9%)




401 (100%)

125 (100%)

135 (100%)



SOURCE: Mia, 1996.

NOTE: Figures in parenthesis indicate percent of total cost.

Of total marketing costs, share of Aratdars’ commissions became the highest component, followed by intermediaries’ personal expenses (entertainment, food and drinks included). Of total costs, transportation cost amounted to 16%. Beparies pay 54% of their total costs in commissions to Aratdars, followed by 27% for transportation. Retailer’s highest cost item was their personal expenses. Retailers often bring fish to sales spots with the help of hired labourers.

Beparies are involved in marketing as purchasers of fish from fish ponds or transporting fish from assembly markets to Arat centres. Beparies’ costs comprise transportation, wages, market tolls, Aratdars’ commissions, containers, etc. Total cost per quintal incurred by Beparies was Tk 401 Tk 125 by Aratdars and Tk 135 by retailers.

Marketing margins earned by Beparies and Paiker/retailer are shown in the following table.

Table 23. Marketing margin earned by Beparies and Paiker/retailers


Purchase price

Sale price

Gross margin
3 = (2-1)

Marketing cost

Net margin
5 = (3-4)


2 798

3 507



308 (11%)


4 193

5 022



695 (17%)

SOURCE: Mia, 1996.

NOTE: Figure within parenthesis indicates profit as percentage of purchase price.

Farmer’s share to consumer’s price:

On average, fishermen and fish farmers get 56% of the price paid by consumers, that is, 44% of the consumer price goes to intermediaries. Beparies and retailers earn 11% and 17% profit respectively, which may not be considered a high return on capital invested.

Fish is a perishable commodity, and transportation is more hazardous for fish than for crop products. Judging from the modest profits of intermediaries and their reasonable marketing margins, fish markets appear to be competitive and efficient. Marketing margins in imperfect markets are likely to be higher because of abnormal profits than they are in competitive markets.

5. 5 Fish farmers’ access to credit

Farmers trade agricultural products and commodities in an atomistic, competitive market, where the margin of profit is usually minimal, barely covering the cost of labour. Farmers of agricultural commodities face a high degree of uncertainty in terms of prices and fluctuating production-yields. Low capital and low productivity is the norm for agricultural production in developing countries. Therefore, credit extended to producers can play a vital role in sustaining and increasing levels of productions by small-scale entrepreneurs. The credit situation encountered by farmers of fish ponds is depicted in Table 24.

Table 24. Institutional and non-institutional credit received by respondents according to different sizes of farms

Farm size

Institutional credit

Non institutional credit


Not Received



Not Received



4 (8.70%)

42 (91.30%)

46 (100%)

9 (19.57%)

37 (80.43%)

46 (100%)


4 (10.82%)

33 (89.18%)

37 (100%)

4 (10.81%)

33 (89.19%)

37 (100%)


10 (30.30%)

23 (69.70%)

33 (100%)

5 (15.15%)

28 (84.85%)

33 (100%)


18 (15.52%)

98 (84.48%)

116 (100%)

18 (15.52%)

98 (84.48%)

116 (100%)

SOURCE: Field Survey, 1999.

NOTE: Figures in parenthesis show percentage share.

Only 16% of fish farmers had access to institutional credit (banks/NGOs). Altogether, 31% of fishpond farmers obtained loans from institutional and non-institutional sources (friends/relatives/money lenders) in 1998-99. Many farmers operating fish ponds do not have access to institutional financing, although they are engaged in an apparently profitable agricultural activity. Small-scale farmers of fish ponds, on average, received Tk 6 461 (11% of variable costs; Table 16) in credit. Medium and large-scale fish farmers, who were able to obtain credit, covered all their variable production costs of culturing fish. However, fish farmers’ access to credit is still limited.

Table 25. Average credit received from institutional and non-institutional sources by respondents according to different sizes of farms

Farm size

Institutional credit received

Non-institutional credit

Per-farm credit


6 250

6 555

6 461


90 000

8 250

49 125


65 300

85 060

71 887


41 625

24 450

43 203

SOURCE: Field Survey, 1999.

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