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AFRICA - Feed is a factor in tilapia farmers struggle to compete with cheap imports

Recent increases in tilapia exports from China have been impacting West Africa\'s fragile aquaculture industry, which is seeking to establish a firm foundation. One of the main issues inhibiting regional growth is the cost of feed, which accounts for 70 percent of a farmer\'s budget.

February 1, 2018

Africa is the main destination of China’s tilapia export industry, and current trends indicate that exports to West Africa are rising. This is not good news for West Africa’s fragile aquaculture industry, which is seeking to establish a firm foundation for closing the substantial gap in the continent’s fish production.

A major problem in West African aquaculture is the lack of effective links in the value chain. For example, whilst the small number of cage farmers have cold rooms and air-conditioned vehicles for transporting harvested fish to selling points, buyers have to take their own ice and cold boxes to the pond farms to buy and transport their tilapia.

As in the poultry industry, tilapia farmers complain about the cost of feed. Feed costs account for about 70 percent of the fish farmer’s budget. Maize and soya meal are the main ingredients used in West Africa. But maize is also a major feed ingredient for humans, and a major industrial raw material. Supply is often erratic, and prices are high. And the bulk of soya meal used in fish feed is imported with scarce foreign exchange, the one item West African governments can hardly afford.

In spite of its current problems, tilapia farming has a great future in West Africa. It provides a cheaper, quicker solution to the acute problem of protein supply in some countries.  Even in Nigeria, where catfish is a traditional delicacy, tilapia is winning many new converts...

Source: The Fish Site // Original Article 

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