CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background to the Study The increase in human population and reports of large numbers of people, undernourished or starving (especially in the developing countries) has made the need for food production a major worldwide issue of concern. There are three major groups of activities that contribute to food production namely, agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries. Recent knowledge shows that the worldâs natural stocks of fish and shell fish, though renewable, have finite production limits, which cannot be exceeded even under the best management regimes. For most of our lakes, rivers and oceans, the maximum sustainable fishing limit has been exceeded. Therefore, fish production will depend on aquaculture to bridge the gap of fish supply (Okechi, 2004). Aquaculture refers to the cultivation of aquatic organisms under controlled or semi-controlled conditions for economic and social benefits. Aquaculture has been the worldâs fastest growing food production over the past decade (Fourier, 2006). The average growth rate has been 8.9% per year since 1970, compared to only 1.2% for capture fisheries and 2.8% for terrestrially meat production over the same period (Brink, 2001). Nigeria has become one of the largest importers of fish in the developing world, importing 600,000 metric tons annually (Olagunju et al., 2007). Nigerians are large consumers of fish with demand estimate at 1.4 million metric tons. However, a demand supply gap of 0.7 million metric tons exists nationally with import making up the short fall at a cost of almost 0.5 billion US dollars per year ( Kudi et al., 2008). Catfish farming is a subset of aquaculture which involves the rearing of catfish under controlled conditions for economic and social benefits. According to Adewumi and Olaleye (2011), the favoured catfish for culture include Clarias gariepinus, Heterobranchus bidorsalis, Clarias heterobranchus hybrid (heteroclarias), with C. gariepinus and H. bidorsalis being the most cultured fish in Nigeria. Clarias gariepinus is regarded as an excellent aquaculture species because it grows fast and feeds on a variety of agricultural by-products, it is hardy and can tolerate extreme temperature, easy to produce in captivity with high annual production and good feed conversion rate. Fish farming contributes significantly to the economy, creating employment opportunities in rural and urban areas, serving as a viable source of protein nutrients in Nigerian households and improving national food security. In 2009, fish accounted for 16.6 percent of the world populationâs intake of animal protein and 6.5 percent of all proteins consumed (FAO, 2012). Fish culture is an efficient means of animal protein production. It provides nutrition for over one billion people‚ including at least 50 percent of animal protein for about 400 million people from the poorest countries (The World Bank Group, 2011). Globally, fish provides about 3.0 billion people with almost 20 percent of their intake of animal protein, and 4.3 billion people with about 15 percent of such protein (FAO, 2012). Increasing demand for fish products has resulted in the growth of fish farms to meet a substantial part of the world’s food requirement (Olasunkanmi, 2012). 1.2 Problem Statement Fish production in Nigeria is not only important as a source of rich protein, but it also can be used to bring about institutional changes. These changes can offer access to production assets and resources which can help to empower the poor and directly promote their livelihoods. The increase in fish consumption as a good source of protein and its cultural and religious acceptability are an indication that catfish culturists must live up to expectation of meeting the local demand (Tsue, Lawal, and Ayuba, 2012). The current shortfall in fish supply compared to local demand is putting pressure on the price of fish and its products. This can make fish unaffordable for many households in Nigeria and further decreasing the per capita fish consumption rate (FAO, 2010). However, there is significant interest in the development of successful fish farming in Nigeria. The fish industry remains the most virgin investment in Nigeria compared with the importation of frozen fish in the domestic market (Ndu, 2006). A sure means of substantially solving the demand-supply gap is by embarking on widespread homestead/small scale fish production. Also, considerable efforts have been directed at examining productive efficiency of fish farmers in Nigeria that is exclusively focused on technical efficiency of fish farmers in general and profitability of fish farming (Kudi et al., 2008). Consequent upon the increment in awareness of catfish farming and a substantial percentage of small scale catfish farmers in Nigeria, it has prompted the interest of researchers to study this firm, but most of the past studies in Nigeria focused on large scale fish farming (Obasi, 2002). There has been little information on economic analysis of catfish production and its contribution to food security status of catfish farmers in FCT Abuja. It is on these bases that the following research questions were addressed by this study: i. What are the socio-economic characteristics of catfish producers in the study area; ii. What are the costs and return of catfish production? iii. What are the technical, allocative and economic efficiencies of catfish production? iv. What are the determinants of technical, allocative and economic efficiencies of catfish production? v. What is the contribution of catfish production on household food security status of farmers? vi. What are the production constraints faced by catfish producers in the study area?