Tilapia farming. (Photo: Egyptian Aquaculture Center)
Fast-growing tilapia strains expected to benefit multitudes
Friday, January 11, 2013, 07:50 (GMT + 9)
Farmers in West Africa and Egypt are boosting their output and cutting costs on labour and fish feed by using two breeds of Nile Tilapia that mature up to 30 per cent faster.
These strains stem from breeding programmes conducted over a decade in Ghana and Egypt by WorldFish in conjunction with partners, who collaborated to improve two strains of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), a native African species that provides many fish farmers and their communities with their livelihood.
WorldFish has developed the ‘Abbassa’ strain of Nile tilapia that grows 28 per cent faster than its most common counterpart, the ‘Kafr El Shaikh’ strain, the most often farmed tilapia in Egypt. The farming of this faster-maturing species is expected to considerably augment the income of the Egyptian aquaculture sector, which is the world’s second largest producer of tilapia after China.
As the Egyptian aquaculture industry constitutes an important component of the national food supply, a higher output could lead to greater availability of fish, lowering the price and thus making it more accessible to poor consumers, providing them with an affordable protein source.
In Ghana, the development of the acclaimed ‘Akosombo’ strain by the Water Research Institute (WRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in partnership with WorldFish, bred a species that matures in five months instead of eight, thereby increasing output for them as well.
Dr Felix Attipoe, the Officer-in-Charge at WRI, highlighted that Ghana’s tilapia industry is “booming” thanks to the new ‘Akosombo’ strain.
“Most of the hatcheries have adopted the new strain as their brood stock, and are producing fingerlings for the whole industry. At the current pace, tilapia production in Ghana is projected to increase tenfold by 2015,” he said.
The ‘Akosombo’ strain is also proving beneficial for those in the West African sub-region, where surplus fish is exported to Côte d'Ivoire, and fingerlings sent to Burkina Faso and Nigeria. The ‘Abbassa’ line could also be sent out to other Mediterranean and West Asian countries with a similar climate.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) informs that Africa has the highest employment growth rate in the aquaculture sector anywhere in the world, and the development of these two strains could strongly contribute to broaden the industry.
By Natalia Real