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 the 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 in many other West African countries.

II. Smoking is A Prominent Fish Processing in Nigeria

Nigeria smoked fish pre-processing

fish smoking in smoking kiln in Nigeria

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 include 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 the smoking process attributes to long shelf life of smoked fish products.
Due to the scorching climate in Nigeria, it is usual for fish to be preserved under the 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.
The smoking process of fish has a long history in Nigeria. With social development, smoking is not only done as a preservative which is the original purpose but also done for the unique taste and flavor imparted by the smoking process in recent times.

Nigeria smoked fishes market

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 fish has sharply increase.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has conducted 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 tonnes 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 material of Nigerian. The continued growth of population, income, and urbanization assures the high demand for fish in Nigeria. The estimation of national demand for fishes in Nigeria is 2.3 million tonnes 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 fish, and the economic potential of investment is guaranteed as well.

IV. Advantages of Smoking Fish

Nigerian smoked fishes

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; the heat destroys bacteria resting in and on the fish.
3. Smoking: smoke produced by burning wood containing some compounds that also have the effect of killing bacteria; the process has a preservative value.
Smoking prolongs the shelf life of fishes, which permits storage in the lean season; enhances flavor, and increases the utilization of fishes in other diets, such as soups and sauces. It enhances the nutritive value and promotes the 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 a relatively good state.

V. Fish Smoking Way in Nigeria

● The traditional way of smoking fish in Nigeria

traditional fishes smoking kiln of 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 kilns) 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.

Nigerian mechanical smoking kiln

Mechanical fish smoking kiln

After a lot of improvement, the mechanical smoking kiln is designed and fabricated as a kind of modern fish smoking machine. The use of force-draft enhances drying and smoke application and the use of a 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 the internationally accepted 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 a necessary chore as the scales are unpleasant to eat, and usually, the fish scaling machine is applied to industrial plants.
3. Fish cleaning: this process is to finish fish back dissecting, fish guts removing, membrane cleaning by fish killing 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 has 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, to 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 mechanical fish smoking equipment to produce quality smoked fish.