Nigerian Smoked Fish Market Potential

I. Overview of Nigerian Fish Supply and Demand
Nigeria is rich in both fresh and marine fishery resources. There are an estimated 12,478,818 hectares of inland waters and some 741,509 hectares of brackish waters, most of which are suitable for aquaculture. However, only about 5,476 hectares of these waters are employed for fishery at present. In addition to the above, this nation has 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that spans 853km of coastline and covers 192,000 km² areas. Fish supply of Nigeria is from four major sources, and they are artisanal fisheries, industrial trawlers, aquaculture and important frozen fish. The Niger Delta contributes more than 50% of the entire domestic Nigerian fish supply. At the same time, there are many kinds of fish species of commercial importance in Nigeria.
Fish is an important source of protein intake of many people, especially the people in developing countries. In Nigeria, about 41% of the total animal protein intake is obtained from fish products. And it is reported that fish is a major source of animal protein and an essential food item for Nigerians, because it is relatively cheaper than meat. The total demand for fish and fish products is higher in Nigeria than many other West African countries.

II. Smoking is A Prominent Fish Processing in Nigeria

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Fish is a kind of perishable product, and if it is not sold or consumed fresh, proper preservation methods and techniques have to be applied to extend its shelf life. And the preservation methods includes freezing, drying (sun-drying and oven-drying), fermentation, heat treatment (sterilization, pasteurization, etc.) and smoking.
Smoking is a popular traditional method of fish preservation in most developing countries, which combines the effect of the destruction of bacteria and the cooking of the fish, because high temperatures will be generated. And the drying and cooking effects during smoking process attributes to a long shelf life of smoked fish products.
Due to the scorching climate in Nigeria, it is usual for fish to be preserved under frozen condition, but there is an irregular electricity power supply, so another form of preservation that has saved fish farmers, fish merchants/sellers from losses is smoking. And it has been observed that the most prominent fish preservation method in Nigeria is smoke drying; most of the captured fishes are sold or consumed after smoking.
Smoking process of fish has a long history in Nigeria. With social development, smoking is not only done as preservative which is the original purpose, but also done for the unique taste and flavor imparted from the smoking process in recent times.

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III. Economic Potential of Nigerian Smoked Fishes
---Abroad Nigerian smoked fish products
A study showed that, there are many Africans venturing abroad, and the United States and Europe remain the major destination for them. This transcontinental migration brings about a growing appreciation for African flavors and food, the demand for dried and smoked fishes has a sharp increase.
The Food and Agriculture organization (FAO) of the United Nations has conducted a research indicating that the quantity of dried and smoked catfish, tilapia and other types of fishes exported from West Africa to the United Kingdom is estimated at over 500 tones per year, with a retail value of nearly 20$ million. Nigeria alone exports about 5 tonnes of smoked fish per month, via airfreight.
---Domestic smoked fish products of Nigeria
It is known that fish is an important and main food materials of Nigerian. The continue growth of population, income and urbanization assures the high demand for fishes in Nigeria. The estimation of national demand for fishes in Nigeria is 2.3 million tones annually, out of which 1 in every 500 of this demand represents the demand for smoked fishes.
At the same time, smoked fish demand is also high in Nigeria. With a population of over 165 million people and an estimated national population growth rate of 5.7% per year, an average economic growth rate of 3.5% per year in the past 5 years, Nigeria has a large market for smoked fish.
Combining the abroad and domestic demand of the smoked fish, it clearly shows the economic potential of Nigerian smoked fishes, and the economic potential of investment is guaranteed as well.

IV. Advantages of Smoking Fish

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Fish smoking can realize three processing effects:
1. Cooking: smoking is usually done at a high temperature, so the fish is cooked.
2. Drying: the fire that produces smoke also generates heat that dries the fish;, and the heat destroys bacteria resting in and on the fish.
3. Smoking: smoke produced by burning wood containing some compounds that also has the effect of killing bacteria; the process has a preservative value.
Smoking prolongs shelf life of fishes, which permits storage in the lean season; enhances flavor and increases utilization of fishes in other diets, such as soups and sauces. It enhances the nutritive value and promotes digestibility of protein. It increases protein availability to people throughout the years and makes fish easier to pack, transport and market for reaching the consumer in relatively good state.

V. Fish Smoking Way in Nigeria

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● Traditional way of smoking fish in Nigeria
The traditional way of smoking fish is done by leaving the fish to be processed naturally with smoke generated by burning wood. And usually, smokehouses (smoking kiln) are built for the purpose of smoking fish. However, it is not getting a lot of prominence through the traditional way of smoking fish for export. And the traditional smoking method is gradually being replaced with modern mechanical methods of preserving fish.
Due to the aquaculture production increase in Nigeria as well as the request for high-quality products abroad, the need for developing modern fish preservation and processing machinery and techniques for effective fish processing and storage is necessary.
● The modern smoking method has the following advantages
1. More hygienic by producing the died fishes free from heavy smoke deposits.
2. Less batch processing time than the traditional drying method.
3. Removed labor and time involved in rotation of fish repeatedly, like the labor needed to monitor the fishes during smoking to avoid charring.
4. Allows large scale smoking operation.

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Mechanical fish smoking kiln
After a lot of improvement, the mechanical smoking kiln is designed and fabricated as a kind modern fish smoking machine. The use of force-draft enhances drying and smoke application and the use of heater source remote to the smoke generator reduces much smoking time. The mechanical smoking kiln can be relied upon to produce a high-quality, uniform product that conforms to internationally acceptable standard.

VI. Smoked Fish Production Processing
1. Fish grading: sorting by species or on the basis of sizes is very important for fish processing as well as for marketing, and fish grading by size can be easily completed with mechanical fish grading equipment.
2. Fish scale removing: scaling the fish is necessary chore as the scales are unpleasant to eat, and usually the fish scaling machine is applied in a industrial plants.
3. Fish cleaning: this process is to finish fish back dissecting, fish guts removing, membrane cleaning by fish speed cleaning machine, etc. to reduce spoilage.
4. Slime removal: for some fish species, slime on the fish skin creates a perfect condition for microorganism growth and have to be removed by thorough washing.
5. Fish cutting:
---splitting is done to increase the surface area exposed to the air and decrease the fish thickness, so reduce the smoking time.
---fish filleting is to make the product acceptable to the customer. Fish fillets are popular in western countries as they are easy to cook with no further preparation.
6. Fish smoking: utilize the mechanical fish smoking equipment to produce quality smoked fishes.