Research Report

Socio-Economic Characteristics of Traditional Fish Processors in Lagos State, Nigeria  

Adeyeye S.A.O.1 , Oyewole O.B.1 , Obadina A.O.1 , Omemu  A.M.2 , Oyedele H.A.1 , Adeogun S.O.3
1 Department of Food Science and Technology, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria
2 Department of Hospitality and Tourism, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria
3 Department of Agricultural Administration, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria
Author    Correspondence author
International Journal of Aquaculture, 2015, Vol. 5, No. 37   doi: 10.5376/ija.2015.05.0037
Received: 01 Oct., 2015    Accepted: 12 Nov., 2015    Published: 01 Apr., 2016
© 2015 BioPublisher Publishing Platform
This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Adeyeye S.A.O., Oyewole O.B., Obadina A.O., Omemu A.M., Oyedele H.A., and Adeogun S.O., 2015, Socio-Economic Characteristics of Traditional Fish Processors in Lagos State, Nigeria, International Journal of Aquaculture, 5(37): 1-6 (doi: 10.5376/ija.2015.05.0037)

Abstract

The study examined the socio-economic characteristics, income and expenditure pattern among traditional fish processors in twenty different fish processing centres in Lagos State, Nigeria. Data were collected through field observation and administration of structured questionnaire. A total of 200 questionnaires were administered through purposive sampling method at 10 respondents/processing centre. Analytical technique used was descriptive statistics. Results revealed that using age and educational level of the processors and availability of household amenities as proxies for socio-economic status, it showed that most of the households were relatively poor. 55.5% were old women and 44.5% were young women. 51.5% had primary school education, 38% had post-primary school education while 10.5% had no schooling. The study found that 98.0% of the processors practiced manual operations while 2.0% practiced mechanical operation. Fish processors in fishing communities play a central role in fisheries and in maintaining the social family structure. Despite the fact that fish and fish products provide significant proportion of the supply of animal protein needs, the fish processors experience seasonal food crisis, particularly the poor women. It is obvious that with seasonal variation in production, fish processors household spend more income on food and increases level of poverty incidence. Seasonal variations in fish supply thereby, leads to serious economic, nutritional and poverty consequences. The study concluded that considering the importance of fish processing to food security and poverty alleviation, especially to coastal communities, a multi-dimensional approach is required to achieve considerable improvement in the living standards of the poor fish processors.

Keywords
Fish processors; Socio-economic; Survey; Income; Expenditure

1 Introduction
According to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in late 2001 (UNDP, 2007), eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, as well as ensuring a sustainable environment is central to securing a sustainable livelihood for fisher folks in Nigeria. Fisheries have provided for centuries the main source of livelihood for the population of fishing communities in Nigeria and a vital sector of the economy by employing more than 6 million fisher folks in Nigeria (Fish for All Summit, 2005; UNFPA, 1996; World Bank, 1996 ) in terms of fish production, processing and distribution. Entire families (men, women and children) in the fishing communities are engaged in the sector. The catch from these fisheries plays an important role in food security as it is mostly consumed by local communities and is an important source of animal protein in peoples’ diets (Adeyeye et al., 2015; Oladejo et al., 2016). 
 
Fishery is an important sector in the economic development of many developed and developing countries. About 40 million people are employed directly in the fishery sub-sectors of artisanal, fish farming, processing, preservation and marketing worldwide. Fish is a source of high-quality protein that can be produced more cheaply than any other animal protein for human consumption. It is also medically recommended for pregnant women, children and adults because of its high-level protein, digestibility and lack of cholesterols, preventive resource for heart attack or failure and stroke (Kareem, 2011).
 
In Nigeria like in most coastal developing nations, fish is an important source of food and income to its peoples. It plays a very important role in improving their food security and nutritional status (Kareem, 2011; Adewuyi et al., 2010; FOS, 2004). Also, as much as 5 percent of the population (that is about 35 million people) in Africa were dependent wholly or partly on fisheries for their livelihoods. This also means that it is a source of revenue generating activity for several African nations. The African continent also accounts for 7.4 million metric tonnes (8 percent of the world’s total annual production) of around 92 metric tonnes. Nigerians are large fish consumers with per capita consumption of 7.512kg, giving a total consumption of more than 1.2 million metric tonnes. With fish imports making up about two thirds of the fish supply, the government seeks import substitution through programs targeting increased domestic fish production. The estimated national demand for fish is estimated as high as 1.4 million metric tonnes with a wholesale value of more than $1billion. Of this, the Federal Department of Fisheries (FDF) indicates 511,000 metric tonnes are provided domestically (Adewuyi et al., 2010; FOS, 2004).
 
The per capita consumption of fish has been on the increase for the past decades. The overall demand for and supply of fish is on the rise. The fact that this level of demand may not be met, the government in an attempt to solve this problem introduced various policies, programmes and institutions like Nigerian Institute for Freshwater Fisheries Research (NIFFR), Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR) and of recent the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) in collaboration with the World Fish Center and FAO, all in an effort to help combat food insecurity (Kareem, 2011; FOS, 2004,). Continuing population growth has also been observed to be a major factor in meeting the challenge of the increasing demand. Aquaculture has the potential to contribute to sustainable development and poverty reduction in the study area by generating income and employment. The production of this fish as an economic resource is undertaken by a large number of people especially the small-scale farmers in Nigeria (Kareem, 2011; Oladejo et al., 2010). To create a system with continuous returns, one needs good management, policies directed towards the efficient use of resources, as these will not only sustain fisheries but will also heighten the level of food security in our environment. Similarly, efficiency with which farmers use resources available to them are important in agricultural productivity measurement. The main issue in the Nigerian agriculture has been that of low productivity. Despite all forms of external intervention and development plans, the fisheries sector still shows a decrease in the supply and increase in the demand by the population. To have a stable and productive fisheries sector, information is required on the allocation and utilization of all the available input resources (Kareem, 2011; Adewuyi et al., 2010; Oladejo et al., 2010; FOS, 2004).
 
Small-scale fishing communities in Nigeria, as elsewhere in the world are vulnerable to exploitation due to poverty and uncertainty of their income. The seasonality of fish catch coupled with inadequate processing capacity has resulted in high post-harvest losses, which diminish benefits accruing to small-scale operators (Kareem, 2011). Therefore, there is the need for a comparative study of the traditional fish processing and traditional fish processors in twenty fish processing centres of Lagos State, Nigeria. The research questions are: 
(a) What are the differences in socio-economic characteristics of traditional fish processors, if any between the fish processing centres? 
(b) What are the roles of traditional fish processors in the fish processing centres? 
(c) What is their expenditure pattern as it relates to seasonal variations in poverty level in the fish processing centres? 
Therefore, the main objective of this study is to examine the socio-economic characteristics, income and expenditure pattern as they relate to variation in poverty level among fish processors in different fish processing centres in Lagos State.
 
2 Methodology 
2.1 Survey
The study was carried out in Lagos State, which has 22.5% of Nigeria’s coastline and occupies an area of 3, 577 square kilometre mass with 786.94 square kilometre or 22 percent of it being lagoons and creeks, in Lagos, Ikorodu, Badagry and Epe local government areas (Udo and Mamman, 1993). Purposive sampling technique was used for surveying. Structured questionnaire was administered to 200 respondents by enumerators. Data were also collected through field observation and on the spot assessment to collect information on socio-demographic and environmental health data of selected ‘smoked fish’ processors.  Descriptive statistics used include measures of distribution, central tendency and dispersion respectively.
 
2.2 Sampling sites 
Two Local Government Areas from Lagos State  Agbalata, Ajido, Asakpo, Boguru, Fvanoveh, Gberefun/Yovoyan, Gbetrome, Ilaje, Kofegameh, Pako, Afuye, Bodin Yawa, Idale, Igbodun, Ilogun, Mejona, Oluwo, Okorisan, Orita, Orogoro. 
 
2.3 Area of study
Using a current geopolitical map of Nigeria (Figure 1), Lagos State lies to the south-western part of Nigeria and has boundaries with Ogun State both in the north and east. It is bordered on the west by the Republic of Benin and in the south, stretches for 180 km. along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. It therefore has 22.5% of Nigeria's coastline and occupies an area of 3,577 sq km land mass with about 786.94 sq. km. (22%) of it being lagoons and creeks. The state is endowed with marine, brackish and fresh water ecological zones with varying fish species that provide productive fishing opportunity for fishermen (Udo and Mamman, 1993). Two local government areas (Badagry and Epe Local Government) were covered because they are highly densed fish processing centres.

 

 Figure 1 Map of Nigeria showing Lagos State and its 16 local government areas

 

3 Results
Table 1 shows the characteristics of processors in the 20 processing centers surveyed. Majority of the processors (55.5%) are old women and 44.5% were young women. 51.5% had primary school education while 38% had post-primary school education and 1o.5% had no schooling. Results showed that 93% of the processors packaged the fish in Basket with dry plantain leaves while only 10% used basket with polypropylene. Survey of the processing centers showed that 62.5% used pit latrine as method of waste disposal, 5% used water-carriage system and 12.5% had no means of waste disposal. 50% of the processors used stream water for processing, 15% used spring and boreholes.  98% used firewood as normal cooking fuel while only 0.5% used charcoal. 77.5% of the processors used full drum as smoker, 2.0% used half drum (Figure 2), while 19.0% used mud oven and the rest 1.5% used charcoal oven. Average capacity of a full drum as smoker used by processors was 71.42kg, half drum smoker has capacity 66.67kg, while mud oven has capacity of 82.11kg and the charcoal oven has capacity of 100.0kg.

 

 

Table 1 Characteristics of the 20 study smoking/processing centres

 

 

Figure 2 The distribution of types of smokers

 

During the current season (2012), the minimum price for fuel wood was N1, 600.00 and the maximum was N28,000.00. The mean price was N20, 261.19. But on the last season (2011), the minimum price for fuel wood was N1, 200.00 and the maximum was N240, 000.00. 98.0% of the processors practiced manual operations while 2.0% practiced mechanical operation. Every processor used eviscerating, washing, filleting and de-scaling and 99.0% of the processors used non concrete floor while 1.0% used mould floor. 92.0% of the processors were from urban communities while 8.0% of them were from rural communities and 17.0% of the processors from rural communities processed Bonga shad type of fish and followed by 12.0% of the processors processed Silver catfish. 1.0% used disinfectants for their processing facilities and environment (Figure 3). 87.5% of processors contributed a minimum of N1, 600.00 and maximum of N480,000.00 as start-up capital for the business and the mean contribution was N51, 324.86. The other processors (12.5%) contributed a minimum of N14, 000.00 and maximum of N600, 000.00 and their mean contribution was N55, 775.26. Figure 4 showed that 80%, 61.5% and 28%  of processors respectively from year 2010, year 2011 and year 2012 claimed  that 30-40% of household income was spend on food , while 14.5%, 31% and 60% of processors respectively from year 2010 , year 2011 and year 2012 claimed that 41-50% of household income was spend on food and 5.5%, 7.5% and 12% of processors respectively from year 2010 , year 2011 and year 2012 claimed  that  >60% of household income was spend on food (Figure 5).

 

 

Figure 3 The distribution of processing centres/communities

 

 

Figure 4 The proportion of household income spent on food

 

 

Figure 5 The use of chemicals by processors

 

4 Discussion
The relationship between household socio-economic characteristics and food processing has been amply demonstrated and using educational level of the processors and availability of household amenities as proxies for socioeconomic status, it is apparent that most of the households were relatively poor (Adeyeye et al., 2015). As presented in Table 1, in all the respondents, 55.5% were old women, and 44.5% were young women.  51.5% had primary school education while 38% had post-primary school education and 10.5% had not attended any formal schooling. This has significant implications for fish processing in general and for fish hygiene behaviour in particular (Adeyeye et al., 2015). Education is also related to employment and income which influence access to household amenities and facilities, including those related to fish hygiene and environmental health. The study found that fish smoking makes an important contribution to household food security and poverty alleviation in all locations. The study also found that fish processors were operating in rural and urban areas and the activity appears to be increasing in popularity. Fish processors operate on a range of scales and family labour plays a critical role. For some enterprises fish processing constitutes a full-time activity. 
 
The baseline survey found that in locations such as Oluwo and Agbalata, and even more remote places such as Idale, fish processors have long-standing connection to urban markets and market their produce on a relatively large scale. The processing sites in all the locations are mostly located in places where they remain a threat to food safety. In particular, establishment were made in areas prone to infestation of pests, close to toilets, areas subjected to flooding near water way/riverine unless sufficient safeguards were provided and areas where either liquid or solid wastes, cannot be removed effectively and were directed to lagoon.
 
The structure and condition of processing sites are below safety standard due to the following reasons: The floors are not constructed to allow adequate drainage and cleaning; the operations are made in open places without a constructed processing plant. Moreso, there was no means of preventing airborne contamination, control of ambient temperature and odour which all contributed to the quality of the product.
 
The water used in almost all the processing sites except Agbalata, Oluwo, Kofegameh and Ajido were non-portable water. So there is need for adequate supply of potable water with appropriate facilities for its storage and distribution and should be available whenever necessary to ensure safety and suitability of smoked fish.
 
In all the processing sites surveyed, there was no adequate drainage and waste disposal systems. The facilities provided were designed and constructed in a place closer to the processing sites which makes it having a high risk of contaminating the smoked fish. Most of the processing sites have no storage facilities for both raw materials and finished product. 
 
Due to the traditional method of smoking fish, there are no facilities available for personnel hygiene which can assist in ensuring that an appropriate degree of personnel hygiene was maintained and to avoid contaminating the fish. There was a high awareness concerning personal hygiene among the processors. People who came directly or indirectly into contact with the fish are not likely to contaminate the fish due to: maintaining of appropriate degree of personal cleanliness and behaviour and operating in an appropriate manner. The facilities used for processing are not properly cleaned always and this is a threat to food safety. The cleaning system in the entire processing site is not adequate. The materials provided for cleaning food are not adequately and suitably designed and these can easily arbor pathogenic organisms. Moreso, there is no facilities for adequate supply of potable water for cleaning. There is no adequate method of controlling the pests in all the processing sites. The containers used for processing were not always washed immediately after use, and this allows the pests free movement to operate and this can result in malicious or accidental contamination of food.
 
Purchasing of smoked fish from market vendors poses a considerable health risk. The reasons for this are apparent from observational data on hygiene practices in the market. Smoked fish were often displayed openly on the tray in very poor sanitary environments. The prevalence of flies at the markets and the apparent lack of facilities for food protection suggest a high potential for contamination. Smoked fish were also subjected to repeated contamination from the unwashed hands of vendors, and the materials used for wrapping, such as reusable polythene bags, waste paper and baskets, may also be a source of contamination.
 
5 Conclusion and Recommendations 
The baseline assessment revealed that using educational level of the processors and availability of household amenities as proxies for socio-economic status, it showed that most of the households were relatively poor. Fish processors in fishing communities play a central role in the fisheries and in maintaining the social family structure. Despite the fact that fish and fish products provide significant proportion of the supply of animal protein needs, the fish processors experience seasonal food crisis, particularly the poor women. It is obvious that with seasonal variation in production, fish processors household spend more on food and increases level of poverty incidence. Seasonal variations in fish supply thereby, leads to serious economic, nutritional and poverty consequences. Considering the importance of fish processing to food security and poverty alleviation, especially to coastal communities, a multi-dimensional approach is required to achieve considerable improvement in the living standards of the poor fish processors. 
 
The following recommendations are hereby made: 
The roles of women in fish processing though very crucial are usually not documented. Policy interventions meant to address issues on food security and poverty reduction should be directed to them. 
 
Provision of fish processing and preservation methods in order to reduce harvest losses will lead to increase income. Improvement of extension services in the areas of identification of more appropriate improved technologies for the benefit of women fish processors and facilitating access of processors to sources of efficient credit. 
 
Due to the seasonal variation of fish catches, farmed fish should be encouraged to make fish processing a year round activity. 
 
Provision of basic rural infrastructures and social amenities in terms of access roads to fish processing centres, electricity, water, markets, primary and secondary schools, health care centers and hospitals will enhance the living standards of fish processors.
 
References 
Adewuyi S.A, Phillip, B.B, Ayinde, I.A, and Akerele D., 2010, Analysis of profitability of fish farming in Ogun State, Nigeria. J Hum Ecol, 31(3): 179-184
 
Adeyeye S.A.O, Oyewole O.B, Obadina A.O, Omemu A.M, Oyedele H.A and Adeogun S.O., 2015, A survey on traditional fish smoking in Lagos State, Nigeria. African J. Food Science, 9(2)
 
Federal Office of Statistics (FOS), 1999, Poverty and Agricultural Sector in Nigeria, Federal Office of Statistics, 33p 
 
Fish for All Summit, 2005, Presentation of Nigeria’s Fisheries Resources Abuja, Nigeria, 22-25 August 2005
FOS (Federal Office of Statistics), 2004, Central Bank of  Nigeria Bulletin, 2004
 
Kareem R.O., 2011, Analysis of Economic Efficiency of Artisanal Fisheries in Ogun State, Nigeria. PhD. Thesis, Unpublished. Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria, pp. 1-8
 
Oladejo A.J., 2010, Economic analysis of small scale catfish farming in Iddo Local Government Area of Oyo State, Nigeria. Agricultural Journal, 5(6): 318-321
http://dx.doi.org/10.3923/aj.2010.318.321   
 
UNFPA, 1996, Food for the Future: Women, Population and Food Security, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 1996. (Advocacy Series Collection) 16 p 
 
United Nations Development Programme, 2007, MDGs: Misunderstood Targets, International Poverty Centre, January 2007, Number 28, www.undp-centre.org 
 
World Bank, 1996, Nigeria: Poverty in the Midst of Plenty. The Challenge of Growth with Inclusion Report No. 14733 UNI 129p
 
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