There are 180 different species of fish in Ethiopia and 30 of those are native to the country.
Ethiopia hopes to develop a fish industry that has remained almost non-existent and the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) is planning to promote to the world Ethiopia’s fish industry. Currently there are only 30 investors who have obtained licenses for commercial fishing.
To inaugurate commercial aquaculture MoA is to establish seed production centers which can supply interested companies, facilitate access to credit, provide basic marketing infrastructure such as road and communication channels, encourage private sector investment in different aspects, establish regular institutional coordination mechanism among stakeholders, strengthen research and extension supports, establish clear and secure user rights to land and water favourable to aquaculture investment, promote fish farming and develop and support continuing training and avoid unnecessary costs for applicants in acquiring necessary rights to land and water and the right to undertake aquaculture operations.
The Ministry feels the country is ready to establish a fish industry for the following reasons: the country’s agro-ecologies and climatic conditions, availability of commercially important fish species suitable for aquaculture (tilapia, catfish, carp etc.), increasing demand for fish and fish products both locally and abroad and the wide variety of fish species.
The ministry feels that investors will be attracted by the diversity in fish species including trout and carp and plants with high protein and pharmaceutical value like Spirulina.
To achieve commercial aquaculture production the need for focused research and development, increased private sector investments, and enhanced public private partnerships between researchers, producers, hatcheries and feed suppliers is essential, l Harrison Charo-Karisa (Dr), Director National Aquaculture Research Development and Training Centre said.
Lack of knowledge about aquaculture, limited technical capacity, trained man power and facilities, the food culture of the people, lack of infrastructure and equipment, lack of quality seeds, inadequate (accessible, affordable and available) feed are the major causes for the delayed commercial aquaculture in Ethiopia, the presentation of the Ministry of Agriculture showed.
The Ministry of Agriculture’s survey also shows that in Ethiopia the diets are dominated by carbohydrates derived from cereals which have low protein. However, the demand for fish in major cities has risen sharply.
The types of aquaculture existing in the country are culture based capture fishery, integrated aquaculture- agriculture farming, cage culture which is currently practiced in North Showa, Amhara region and East Showa Oromia region, culture based capture fishery which is stocking water bodies with fry and fingerlings and the subsequent harvesting by fishers of a stock which may or may not be self replicating. Aquaculture in Ethiopia has a production rate of 23 kg per cage.
Annual aquaculture production in East Africa exceeds 1.5m metric tons. Dr. Harrison pointed that fish is often the most affordable or only available source of protein for the poor, however per capita fish supply is declining and is less than 50% of 1970s levels.