The Success Story Of Caleb Uloko, UAM Graduate Who Ventured Into Fish Farming
Uloko Caleb, a graduate of the University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State, is practising what he studied in school: Fish processing, DANIEL ESSIET reports.
After he received his degree from the University of Agriculture, Makurdi. Benue State, where he studied Fisheries and Aquaculture, he made up his mind that he was not going to work for anybody.
“I always knew from the start that I wanted my own business. I started seeing reasons that complaining never yield positive results; therefore, with my experiences and the knowledge I obtained from the university, I conceived the idea of going into fish processing and packaging.”
His training exposed him to value addition to fish and fishery products. He knew what an entrepreneur needs to prepare various fish products to increase consumer appeal, enhance income and improve livelihood.
He set out to establish a small fish processing business. He saw a market for it with increasing business opportunities.
“I chose fish processing to fish production because of inadequate fund to build ponds, install and sink borehole in order to have sufficient water. Therefore, I decided to start small, by going into fish processing with the little capital at my disposal.”
One thing he learnt was that fish is a highly perishable commodity, which requires proper handling, processing and distribution if it is to be utilised in a cost-effective and efficient way. The other thing is various value added products can be prepared out of fish without much investment. Although the demand for such kind of products is huge, he realised a lot of entrepreneurs don’t venture much into entrepreneurship of value added fishery products, due to lack of skills and marketing opportunities.
Last year, Caleb started with the construction of the shade and working area cost; bought a smoking kiln with gas cylinder. He bought some table-size catfish from fish farmers for processing and drying.
The business he started small is worth over a N1 million. From the profits he made, Caleb installed fish ponds.Today, he does fish production alongside fish processing.
Earlier, he encountered some challenges. He explained:
“The first was my target market. I intend to sell my product at wholesale price for quick returns, but due to competition from other suppliers, who sold at lower rates as a result of their lower standard of processing, I found it difficult to break even. What I decided was to sell at shopping malls, hotels and restaurants.
Also, raising my own fish before drying was only the best alternative. Secondly, sizes of fish has various drying periods. Larger fish take longer period to dry than small ones. Mixing them during smoking and drying will not get them done uniformly. With this experience and observations, I have been grading them to size whenever I want to process fish.”
His success, in part, is tied to tireless networking. He keeps learning.
He derives satisfaction from customers’. He is happy with what he has accomplished so far.
Caleb is happy he has been able to earn double of what he invested within a short time.
“Satisfying customer demands will make most business owners proud. I am so proud because I am a beneficiary of double earnings from my business. Meeting up my customers’needs is always achieved. My greatest desire is to be greater than who I am.
“In 10 years, my business will be making at least N350,000 monthly. Exporting my products, too, to countries where they are needed will also be achieved. In 20 years, my business will have a life of its own; with that, I don’t have to keep monitoring all the time. It will have a standard organisational structure where everything will work in system.”