KUALA LUMPUR – After a two-year stint, including working in a bank in Australia, Mazli Mashudi chose to pursue a career in catfish breeding after returning home in 2013.
Perseverance, hard work and patience paid off for Mazli, 39, as his catfish farm, which is sited on a four-hectare site in Sungai Nibong, Sekinchan, Selangor, has since yielded lucrative returns.
The father of five who hails from Sungai Besar, Selangor, has previously worked as a fish and chicken seller at the Selayang wholesale market before pivoting his business into catfish farming in 2016.
“My mother Fauziah Jaafar, 66, and my father Mashudi Wahid,70, (deceased) were previously operating a seawater prawn farming business in 2012.
“I couldn’t help much as I was still studying and later stayed in boarding school. The blood, sweat and tears that my parents poured into the business and raising us inspired me to venture into catfish breeding later.
“I chose to go into catfish breeding over other aquaculture species as it is easily manageable and marketable. We can go far in catfish farming as it is run by our community (Malays) with high demand for catfish all year round,” said Mazli, who has worked in Dianella, Perth in livestock farming, to Bernama recently.
Initial capital of RM50k
Mazli started his catfish breeding with an initial capital of RM50,000 and of the total, RM20,000 were funded by his parents. A fish pond was built on a private-owned land at Kampung Simpang 5, Sungai Besar.
Besides that, he also acquired his business acumen skills, knowledge and experience from both his parents in aquaculture farming.
According to Mazli, there are many benefits to freshwater fish farming over cattle or chicken farming, with tremendous potential to generate higher revenue.
To date, his farm has the capacity to produce some 100 kg of catfish a day with an estimated 3,000 kg of adult catfish a month as well as 80,000 catfish of 12.7 cm (5 inches) each within a month.
“A mature catfish can fetch a price of RM8.50 a kg while for a 12.7 cm fish, it is sold for 50 sen each,” said Mazli, who secured monthly gross sales of about RM65,000.
He said his fish produce will be marketed to customers through various platforms both physically – those who buy direct at the farm – as well as via online.
“We also sell our fish to the nearby shops, morning markets, canteens, school dining halls and restaurants. In addition, orders were received from food caterers and those who plan to hold wedding events,” he said.
Sharing his experience, Mazli said the core aspects of catfish farming include farming site, types of pond, water supply source, fish fries, catfish food, proper catfish care as well as market prospects.
“In this field, the investment returns would depend on how we breed the catfish. I am sharing what I have done on five cemented ponds and canvas. So far, we have harvested our catfish 22 times.
“Initially, I merely bred fish that is, 10,000 catfish of 12.7cm each in a pond measuring 5.5 metres X 4.9 metres (18X16 ft), with water level as high as 0.6 metres (2 ft). Usually, the breeding period is between 50 to 60 days until the catfish matures,” he explained.
As for the cost of fries, Mazli has allocated RM5,000 for 10,000 fish fries (50 sen each), while some 8 kg of food are needed to breed catfish, which includes fish feed pellets, anchovy head and bread. The food is given twice a day.
From fish farming, Mazli has been able to expand into other areas that can potentially result in revenue growth.
“Besides selling fish, I also took the opportunity to sell my fish ponds to those who wish to start their business as their income source. I also hold courses for those interested in embarking on this new venture,” he added.
Success albeit challenges
Noting that catfish farming business requires a great deal of effort, dedication and most importantly passion, Mazli said the road to success has also been rough and tough, citing the shortage of fish supply he faced during the holiday season.
“There were occasions when many fishes died due to bad weather. I was also faced with the lack of skilled staff to conduct catfish breeding courses,” he said.
However, albeit the challenges, this young entrepreneur remains steadfast and is optimistic about the future as he continues to focus on fish hatcheries –where fishes are spawned, then hatched and cared for – to ensure higher production.
“Our aim is to equip our ponds with all the necessities so that we can provide efficient service to new breeders who visit us at the farm to share knowledge,” he added.
Mazli, who conducts fish breeding courses said, he was happy to share his knowledge with participants who sought to generate revenue, noting that he hoped to produce more entrepreneurs in catfish breeding based on its growth potential.
To date, he has conducted 20 courses in freshwater fish for the public and 27 more for groups.
“For the public, courses are organised for 50 to 60 people at a time. For groups, most participants are drawn from agencies as well as government departments such as Farmers Organisation Authority (LPP), Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra), Fisheries Department, Langkawi Development Authority (LADA), Ministry of Health as well as public universities.
“The private sector also took part in the courses that I conducted, and in addition, I also hold courses for students, pupils, tahfiz students as well as pre-schoolers,” he said, adding that nearly 2,000 participants have attended such programmes at his farm.
Mazli said the courses are jointly conducted with his mother from 8.30 am to 6 pm every Saturday, in collaboration with the Fisheries Department, successful breeders and fish suppliers as well as former aquaculture students.
Catalysts for success
Besides his parents, Mazli also attributed his success to a friend who is also engaged in catfish farming.
“The man who has fuelled me with the motivation and strength is Mohd Hafiz Nordin from ARC (Aquaculture Resource Centre). His company produces freshwater fish fries and has the largest freshwater fish pond in Selangor. We usually discuss our business directions and seek ways for further improvement in this field,” he added.
For new starters, Mazli said they must develop an interest in this field.
“My advice is, those who wish to earn from fish farming should start by having an interest, then take the next step. Don’t begin with big numbers as you need more experience to manage these catfish species compared to paper qualifications.
“You don’t need to focus on wholesale which is rather cumbersome but with marginal profit. It looks impressive but in actual fact, you only reap a small margin. Don’t be sad if the fishes die, but look for the most suitable method to breed fish at your own place,” he shared.
He said interested parties can start by attending breeding courses and from there they can get to meet many industry players who share the same interest.
“Fish breeding is not a one man’s job; it is teamwork with different milestones to reach. Any progress they make often unite teams even more and propel them forward,” he added. – Bernama