The weekend fish farmer

BY Leslie Ter Morshuizen

Picture the scene: George has a successful business and he loves fish, so he decides to start a fish farm on the side as a second income stream.  He does everything correctly; builds appropriate infrastructure, obtains good genetic material, purchases great feed and has sufficient staff to operate the farm.  However, the one thing that is lacking is minute by minute leadership and direction as this is a 2nd business and George is in town managing his primary concern.  On the weekends George visits the farm but he is also tired and needs to spend time with his family, so the farm sees little of him and is starved of strategic input.  The result will almost certainly be a failed business that only survives due to ongoing financial inputs by the owner.
In the words of Ade Alakija, founder of Durante Fish, Nigeria: `The downside of fish farming: it is a 24-hour job, there is no Sunday, there is no Tuesday, there is hardly any time off’.
Fish farming is a skills intensive undertaking and it is unwise for anyone to tackle it part time.  There is a place for starting on a small scale to learn the techniques, train a few key staff and develop initial logistic paths.  However, once you go commercial you need to be on a certain minimum scale in order to be economically viable, and at a commercial scale you are risky trying to manager the facility remotely unless you have an adequately experienced manager on site.
Please do not try being a weekend fish farmer, this almost certainly results in wasted money and disappointment.  The old adage has never been truer: go big or go home.

 September 26, 2017
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