Overfishing, water pollution, and lack of awareness are challenges investors face if they hope to develop the nation’s first aquiculture business. They do see a huge potential of about 40,000 tons per year, however.
A recent aquaculture trade and investment meeting with representatives from the Netherlands and Ethiopia, at Siyonat Hotel on January 28, lasted five days and was commissioned by Agri Business Support Facility (ABSF), a part of the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Associations with support from the Netherlands’ Embassy.
“We aim to initiate model fish farms,” said Rachel Tocklu, managing director of Teampro, the consulting company that organized the mission.
“Ethiopians learn more by example than from experimentation. We want to show fish farmers there is a better way to conduct business with higher profits while still preserving the assets of the country,” she said.
Aquaculture in Ethiopia is still in its initial stages. The current production of capture fisheries is estimated at 16,000 metric tons. The main fish species are Tilapia, Catfish and Perch.
The necessary players in the field; fish feed producers, fish farm equipment suppliers, processers and trainers have to be recruited from scratch, creating a large source of employment.
After 2011, the Ministry of Agriculture established seed production centers which can supply potential fish companies. It also facilitated access to credit and provided basic marketing infrastructure such as roads and communication.
The Ministry says that Ethiopia is ripe for the establishment of a fish industry because of the country’s agro-ecologies and climatic conditions. Commercially important fish like Carp are also widely available. The increasing demand for fish and fish products both locally and abroad and the wide variety of species are other potential positives.
“Orthodox Ethiopians fast more than 130 days a year and fish are an excellent source of protein,” Tocklu said.
Ethiopia’s potential for fishery development is in its 20 freshwater lakes, 12 river basins and 15 reservoirs. According to Wagenigen University, a Dutch institute, 15,156 sqm of Ethiopia’s land is suitable for aquaculture. There are 180 different species of fish in Ethiopia and 30 of those are native to the country.