Aqua-Farms Organization (AFO) in collaboration with the Aquaculture Association of Tanzania ( AAT) conducted a live session that connected 36 people online on the topic of “Untapped Potential of Aquaculture in Tanzania”.
Noting that Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food sector worldwide which currently produces about 50% of the fish consumed, it is expected that this percentage will rise up to 66% by 2030, During the live session, the moderator Ms Nancy Iraba, co-founder and science communication personnel form AFO posed a question to the invited speaker, Mr Rucho Geofrey, Executive Secretary from the Aquaculture Association of Tanzania to elaborate on the overview of the Aquaculture Sector in Tanzania, adding on:
Are we moving at the same pace as other countries around the world?
”Aquaculture in Tanzania accounts for 1-4% of the total fish production, commonly farmed species being tilapia (sato) and catfish (kambale), henceforth the production is still very low and people are not eating enough based on FAO consumption standards, Furthermore, feed is still a major challenge in this sector, most of the feeds are imported from other countries” says Rucho; He emphasized that there is a decline in capture fisheries, and Aquaculture is needed to fill in the gap as the demand increases, he says that there are has been efforts from the Government and Private Sectors in promoting Aquaculture in Tanzania
One of the attendees posed a question, on how AAT is helping the fish farmers in increasing their production, Mr. Geofrey Rucho, who has been involved in the development of aquaculture industry in Tanzania for about 7 years both theoretically and practically, tackled the question by taking us over the analysis of aquaculture value chain in Tanzania that needs people to pay attention to, and note the challenges that need immediate solutions (opportunities)
Firstly, He spoke of Hatcheries producing fingerlings established in Tanzania have a challenge in prices setting (being expensive), giving example: “ Fingerlings price ranges from 200 to 350 Tsh for tilapia, while catfish goes to 400 to 500 TZS in Tanzania while in places like Uganda the fingerling prices range from 50-100 TZS, this calls upon fingerlings producers to re-think their prices in order to make fingerlings affordable for everyone to enhance more aquaculture ventures
“In Tanzania Feeds accounts up to 80-85% of the total cost of the aquaculture venture and most the feed is imported from outside in which it is very expensive to afford,” Says Mr Rucho This factor discourages most people to venture in aquaculture, he calls upon different stakeholders to promote fish feed production in the country
He went on to emphasize the unavailability cold-chain vans and ice-making facilities, that hinders fish farmers during transportation of fish to market areas and marks a tonne of ice costing between US$400-500. He is calling in for more investors to improve this aspect, He also noted that Mariculture (farming in marine waters) in Tanzania has not been properly utilized and some projects have proved not to be sustainable
He called upon strengthening stakeholders collaboration to pave a way for fish farming market farmers as currently, the marketing part is very disorganized, In closing Mr Rucho stressed on apprehending linkages between Government and private sector, stimulating dialogue and capacity building to fish farmers in the country. An entity is known as “ Soko la samaki” which is an online selling platform connecting the fish sellers and consumers contributed to the session by introducing their virtual platform for selling and buying fish and fisheries products that will be running by the Mid June.
Furthermore, there is immense opportunity and demand in Fish butchery business, as the demand goes higher, with the population reaching up to 70 million by 2025
Lastly, Seawater farming (Mariculture), which is farming of marine species in marine waters has not been fully utilized, the most successful farming being in Seaweed (Mwani) which is majorly done along the coast of Tanzania and Zanzibar Island. There is a potential in increasing productivity in farming other marine species such as Sea Cucumber, Milk fish etc.
Amongst issues raised in the middle of the session by one of the online attendees, Mr. Fadhili Malesa was on “ Perception of the farmed fish to the communities” it has been noted that some people have a negative outlook on consuming fish that is farmed in a controlled environment, in which Mr. Rucho emphasized in embracing “ technical know-how approach” on a way to tackle this perception “ Education awareness is needed for people to know that farmed fish are even safer than the wild fish, as in controlled condition, one can control fish diet but in the wild, no one knows what the fish encounters with i.e Heavy Metals etc” says Mr. Cretus Mtonga, General Secretary from Aqua-Farms Organization
“ We need to come together as a sector to ensure the production chain is sustainable” Mr. Rucho closes on his final note