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Egyptian aquaculture: Farming tilapia, mullet and carp in the Nile Delta

The Fish, by Vasile Dobrian (via Wikipaintings).

Within the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish and embedded within a project on aquaculture development funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), IEIDEAS — ‘Improving Employment and Income through the Development of Egypt’s Aquaculture Sector’ — is a project implemented by CARE and WorldFish to secure a sustainable future for at least 100,000 people by upgrading Egypt’s aquaculture value chain.

A national ‘innovation platform’ (IP) event was organized by staff of WorldFish, the Netherlands Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Following the launch of the IP on 12 Jan 2014 and five local (governorate) level workshops (two in Kafr-El-Sheikh and one each in Fayoum, Behera and Sharkia), the national event was held in Cairo in February 2014.

Participating stakeholder groups included farmers, hatchers, retailers, input suppliers, local and national level authorities, non-governmental organizations and researchers and consultants.

A report on this has just been published. Some of the facts presented include the following.

  • Despite the pressure on water, Egypt has the largest aquaculture industry in Africa with a market value of over $1.3 billion.
  • The industry now provides 65% of the country’s fish needs, with virtually all the output coming from small and medium-scale privately owned farms.
  • The main farmed fish is Nile tilapia and Egypt is the world’s second largest producer of farmed tilapia after China. Grey mullet and carp are also farmed, sometimes in mixed ponds with tilapia.
  • From small levels of production in the early 1990s fish farming has expanded rapidly while capture fishing has remained fairly constant, even declining somewhat after peaking at the beginning of the 21st century.
  • Aquaculture is also important in providing employment to an estimated 100,000 people of whom 50% are youth.
  • With the exception of Fayoum, aquaculture takes place in the Nile Delta region and mainly around the Northern Lakes area.

‘Where research was once seen as the main source of agricultural innovation, under an AIS [agricultural innovation system] lens research is considered to be a “service” provided to farmers and other stakeholders within wider innovation systems. . . .

‘An IP is a group of individuals with different backgrounds and interests: farmers, agricultural input suppliers, traders, food processors, researchers, government officials, etc. . . .

The participants put high priority on the following ten issues:

  1. inadequate farmer representation in policy and decision-making
  2. poor image of farmers among government agencies
  3. fish diseases
  4. high production costs
  5. low quality feeds
  6. difficulty of obtaining a license for fish farming
  7. limited possibility to own land
  8. deterioration of water quality available for use in fish farms
  9. insufficient water quantity and restricted rights to use water
  10. lack of well-equipped fish markets/formal selling space

‘Stakeholders in the aquaculture sector in Egypt operate in a complex and uncertain environment, which requires continuous adaptation and innovation. Effective interaction is needed between farmers, business, service providers, research, policymakers, development organizations and other stakeholders for innovation to take place. WorldFish aims at enabling partners to identify and implement their own responses to emerging challenges and opportunities, i.e. the ability to bring about innovation. . . .

Diana Brandes, a global capacity development specialist at ILRI who helped organized the Cairo event, says: ‘The workshops in the governorates and at national level provided an opportunity for several stakeholder groups to jointly identify the major issues that hamper growth of the aquaculture sector in Egypt. To address the prioritized issues, working groups were established.

‘The current IP represents the following stakeholder groups: fish farmers, hatchers, retailers, experts (consultants, researchers), authorities, NGOs and input suppliers. Missing stakeholder groups in the platform include wholesalers, laborers and service providers (e.g. financial and extension services). . . .’

Read the whole report by Remco Mur: Development of the aquaculture value chain in Egypt: Report of the National Innovation Platform Workshop, Cairo, 19-20 February 2014. Cairo: WorldFish.

8 thoughts on “Egyptian aquaculture: Farming tilapia, mullet and carp in the Nile Delta

  1. “Despite the pressure on water” – tilapia has the advantage of being quite tolerant of various water qualities, even a slight salt content (not all species, but several fast-growing kinds of tilapia). And they require no antibiotics if done right, so it can be the ideal fish for a developing economy, as long as labor and land prices are low.

  2. Hi,i’m Kyeremeh Richmond from Ghana,i’m in patnership with a friend,we have rear a tilapia at Yeji in the brong ahafo region and we need assistance from foreign investors,so please if you are interested to help us you can contact me on +233-200386276 for any further information.i will be glad if you can help us.if you wish to,you can find out from yeji fishery director by contacting the fisheries head quaters in Ghana and the will give you the fisheries director in yeji number and ask about the gaints who are rearing fish at kajai.we are counting on your cooperetion.

    • Hello Kyeremeh Richmond: Thanks so much for your interesting comment. So good to know you are rearing tilapia in Ghana! ILRI is a research institute, and not a development organization per se, and we are not an NGO, but I hope one of those contacts you via this blog and wish you the best of luck in your enterprise! Susan MacMillan, ILRI communications

  3. Tilapias are not very demading as fishes are. When growing up my dad ( he is an veterinarian and agro-economist) had a big fish farm business in my country. and I don’t remember seing him using antibiotic on fishes , but he did poultry, because I was the one helping him catch them and vaccinate them. with the instabilitiy in the east ( DR congo, coz that where I am from ) we lost every thing. he was the largest supplier of fishes to the 1/3 largest city in the country. Reading this piece remind me of those days. Thank Susan

  4. HI, Your concern of rearing Nile Tilapia to stainable fishes species is good especially for nitration.
    South Sudan Fisheries specialist. Thank.

  5. bacing on what i have read on aquaculture you have gone miles so my prayer is that if that knowledge can be extended to uganda and this can be achieved by taking ugandans to be trained in egypt this could boost our fish farming.
    this could save lake victoria from overfishing.

  6. Aquaculture in Africa is not yet developed and utilized as it should be compared to Asian countries as china.Egyptians had infact long experience and currently doing well.I want to share these ideas for us in Ethiopia.Thank you.

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