I am glad to see you all enjoy these Spotlights as much as I enjoy working on them. Every step of the process is a challenge by itself, however, seeing the people I feature are happy with the results, is extremely fulfilling. Today I want to share Olabisi Salami’s Story. She is 39 years old, from Nigeria. Olabisi earned both her Bachelor’s in Aquaculture and Fisheries Management and her Masters’ in Aquaculture and Fisheries from the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. She has been involved in the industry for over 18 years and has a great story to share. Let’s dive in!
Olabisi says she is always happy to answer this question. Aquaculture came into her life by coincidence actually. She never planned to go into aquaculture and fisheries but is happy she ended up picking it as a career. “I wanted to go to school for Food Science and Technology. When I applied for university I was told that FS&T had already too many applicants and that I would have to pick another course. I found that the most similar one was Aquaculture and Fisheries Management. The thing is if I did;t like Aquaculture and fisheries I had the option to change to FS&T after my second year. So those were my plans”.
Little did she know that only after a couple of weeks into Aquaculture she would fall in love with the industry and never look back. “Seeing a very small organism, and watching it grow healthy and happy with your own eyes made me extremely interested. And ever since then I enjoyed my decision very much”.
Aquaculture in Nigeria
As per our conversation, I learned from Olabisi that the population of Nigeria is really open to Aquaculture production as an alternative to Overfishing. “Everybody has an interest and positive vibe towards aquaculture. When aquaculture came and solved food security problems for complete tribes and towns, they become more welcoming. Of course, there are some exceptions, some tribes do not eat catfish or tilapia. So there is a whole process behind entering their market with a species they accept”.
Olabisi went from her bachelor straight into her master’s. But as she was finishing her Bachelor’s, she got the opportunity to join UNAAB farms for her internship. She had excellent grades in school and she was asked to join them in farm management. And she is been one of the lucky ones to get experience after experience in the Aquaculture industry.
“It has not been easy. It takes extra effort. You must take your time to read and study whatever you are trying to do with the fish. But the thing is that the textbook sometimes doesn’t tell you is that what you need to learn is right in the field. I have been able to put in a little effort and merge the two sources of knowledge and my different experiences”.
The Thing you Like the Most
“The fact that is so practical and modern. In other industries, you can sit down and read things that are so abstract. But in Aquaculture, things are real. You can see everything for yourself. But also the business side of fish. The fact that it provides answers and solutions to many questions and issues. Every day there are new ideas, innovations, challenges. Whatever you do to improve the industry is not something you do for yourself but for the greater good of the industry”.
Something she learned from Aquaculture 5 years ago may be out of the books by now, so she really enjoys the fact that Aquaculture is always reinventing and redesigning better processes.
Passing on Knowledge
This is one of the topics on which Olabisi made more emphasis. Sometimes information is not at everyone’s reach. Sometimes not everyone has the same tools and resources to comprehend information. So she has made it a point to teach and train as many people as she can. By doing this she looks to make the journey a lot more friendly for them. She doesn’t want them to struggle with the same things she has struggled with over the years.
“It’s all about getting people really interested. My older son is 8 years old. And we go to the farm together. He can tell you if something is wrong with the fish, when they need to be fed, and when they shouldn’t. He has learned a lot just by going with me to work. My little girl is six, she can handle Tilapia. I have always tried to build that interest in them. I mean If they want to pursue a career in aquaculture is great. But if they grow out of it, that is fine by me. But their foundations are what I have seeded in them with my Aquaculture career. They are very careful and caring for the fish. We do our job together”.
“I always make sure, no matter what the background of the people that work with me, that they feel supported. I always have a persuasive ability to show them the good in them and find their passion within the industry, just like I do with my own kids”.