Wednesday, 24 April 2024

In Agriculture

Egyptian Aquaculture Production Growth

Aquaculture is the main source of fish production in Egypt. Tilapia is the most farmed species in the country, with 115,000 hectares of aquaculture ponds. Most of the country’s fish production is consumed domestically, which is equivalent to one fish per person per week.

The main aquaculture producers in Africa are Egypt, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Tunisia, Kenya, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi and South Africa. These major aquaculture producers have experienced significant growth in the past decade, mainly due to capacity building in key disciplines, adoption of good governance, research and development, access to credit facilities, and mainly due to the promotion of aquaculture development. 

Initiatives promoted by the private sector have led to investments in sound management, emerging production systems, the formulation and use of aquafeeds, and the emergence of strong and dynamic associations of producers and service providers.

Fish consumption in Egypt is a traditional and important part of the Egyptian diet and the main source of cheap animal protein for the growing population. The characteristic of fish consumption is the traditional preference for fresh fish for a long time. However, with the increase in imports of low-cost small fish in the upper middle class, the development of refrigeration facilities and the improvement of distribution channels, consumers increasingly accept frozen fish. In addition, fish eaten far away from the landing site are pickled, as are some sardines and red mullets from the Mediterranean and Red Sea.

Although salted fish is traditionally consumed during certain holidays, with improved internal transportation and marketing, salted fish is expected to decline. Processing facilities include freezing, canning, fish fillets and fish smoking installations. Canned tuna and sardines are sold locally and exported. In recent years, some imported salmon have been smoked for local sales and exported to neighbouring countries.

The major species of tilapia in Egypt are Nile tilapia, Mahi-mahi and gilthead sea bream. Sedimentation is a major problem in the breeding sites, as a result of which there is overuse of resources and this has resulted in diminishing the carrying capacity of the system. The Nile tilapia has been considered as one of the best species to be cultured in Egypt due to its high growth rate, excellent feed conversion ratio and ability to thrive under high salinity. Mahi-mahi following shrimp farming, which was introduced in Egypt around 1980, is also cultivated now with good results despite its inferior culture performance. 

Egypt has two main forms of Aquaculture - Freshwater Aquaculture and Mariculture.

The bulk of the Egyptian opportunities to increase fish supplies from local sources and to substitute imports lie in freshwater aquaculture. In addition to increasing the productivity per feddan, presently at 1.5 kg (about 0.5 per hectare), there are ample opportunities in Egypt to expand fish production by developing semi-intensive aquaculture in the northern lakes, inland lakes, and in the shallow enclosures of Lake Nasser. In the River Nile system, opportunities to expand aquaculture in cages exist but with caution due to various pollutants. Culturing fish in rice fields is also subject of possible expansion through better stocking and management procedures.

In recent years mariculture along the Egyptian coasts of the Mediterranean and Red Seas, which spread about 2 240 km, has started to become an important option to increase seafood supplies. This source can contribute significant quantities for domestic marketing as a priority, and for possible exports of high value fish and fishery products. High value species such as sea bream and sea bass, as well as shrimp, popular with Egyptian and other consumers may be cultured. Already some farms for these species have been established along the coast of North Sinai, the Suez Canal and the Red Sea. 

Other farms are currently under construction. Exports of these high valued seafood products to countries in the EU and other international markets, will become possible if preferential treatment for Egyptian imports is given by the EU as a result of the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement (EMA) and if the inspection delegation approves removing restriction on importing fish from Egypt.

In 2017, Egypt established Middle East's largest fish farm. The fish farm project is located on state-owned land in Berkat Ghalioun. In July 2015 it cooperated with China Evergreen Company and was implemented by the military in cooperation with China Evergreen Company. The total cost of the project is 4 billion Egyptian pounds. The first phase of the project covers 4,000 fish and each cycle can produce 2,000 tons of shrimp, 3,000 tons of saltwater fish and 1,600 tons of freshwater fish. The annual production capacity for fish and shrimp in the first phase of the project is 3,000 tons and 2,000 tons, respectively. Industrial cities in the region also include a fish feed factory with an annual production capacity of 120,000 tons and a shrimp feed factory with an annual production capacity of 60,000 tons.

The Nile River, which runs through the country, provides an extensive aquatic ecosystem and contributes to the well-being of Egyptians. The current situation in the Nile River ecosystem is determined by commercial fishing and aquaculture by humans as well as the Nile's natural riverine ecology.

Fish farming has been practiced for many centuries along the banks of the Nile River, with a long history in Egypt dating back to ancient Egypt. The cultivation of plants such as fruits and grains, especially wheat and barley, was essential for its economy. Beginning around 1500 BC Egypt was known for its advanced fishing industry which supported much of its agricultural economy.

The population of Egypt has increased by almost 10 percent from 61.3 in 1998 to 67.9 in 2001. It has been estimated to increase to 80.3 million in 2015 and to 95.8 in 2025, and Egypt has since surpassed the 2025 estimate already, with the population now standing at 100 million people as of end of 2019. 

As the population grows, the demand for fish and food will increase. Therefore, unless new fishery resources are accidentally developed from undeveloped marine resources, or freshwater and seawater aquaculture increase significantly, you will have to continue to import additional quantities of fish to avoid price increases. In this case, the fish will exceed the capacity of low-income segments of the population. If local fish species become less or less expensive, especially when imported fish species are cheaper, Egyptian fish consumers become increasingly active towards imported fish species. Furthermore, farmed fish are increasingly accepted by consumers, because all farmed species are typical local species, such as carp, tilapia and mullet. It should be noted that increased cheap imports of imported fish are expected to have an overall chilling effect on the total price of fish and thus will have a negative impact on the income of fishermen and farmers, but may benefit farmers. consumers in general.

The Egyptian capital Cairo, is the centre of the aquaculture industry in Egypt. In 2003, there were about 10 000 farmers in the aquatic sector, and their average annual production was approximately 350t. The farmers operate private farms and raise fish using polyculture techniques. For example, they raise mullet, Nile perch and common carp, which are in good demand for human consumption as well as for stocking the ponds of shrimp farms.

Sources: CGIAR, FAO

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