The government plans to invest 9.5 billion Rwandan francs to increase fish production in the country, a senior official from the Rwanda Agricultural and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) has said. The new times.
According to Solange Uwituze, Deputy Director General in charge of Animal Resources Research and Technology Transfer at RAB, the country’s fish production in 2021 was 39,269 tonnes, of which 87% came from fish capture and only 13% came from fish farming.
Illegal fishing practices, low investment, expensive fish feed, and lack of value addition, among others, were cited as major contributors to low production.
Rwanda’s fish demand is estimated at 112,000 tonnes by 2024.
With just two years left to reach the target, the country has failed to produce even half of the expected demand, a situation that has left officials scratching their heads for major interventions.
Producing 112,000 tons by 2024 per year could help Rwanda reach the average sub-Saharan per capita consumption of 6.6 kilograms per person per year and 265,600 metric tons to reach the world average of 16.6 kilograms.
In order to increase fish production, Uwituze said Rwanda is looking to invest Rwf 240.8 million in the 2022/2023 financial year and Rwf 283.7 million in the 2023/2024 financial year in restocking of lakes and ponds as well as Rwf 85.1 million in training. cooperatives on production technologies.
She said Rwf 4 billion and Rwf 4.7 billion are expected to be invested in subsidizing fish feed production in the financial years 2022/23 and 2023/24 respectively.
Invest in fish ponds
She said fish ponds are among the areas the government is looking to support to improve production.
There are 1,583 ponds covering a total area of 252 hectares covering 2,520,000 square meters in the country.
“Of these, 938 ponds over 771,819 square meters have been rehabilitated and filled with tilapia fingerlings; they are now in production,” she said.
The official noted that fish production from fish ponds increased from 461 tons in 2020 to 490.8 tons in 2021.
With support and new investment, she said, production is expected to increase from 1,543.6 tonnes forecast in 2022 to 2,000 tonnes by 2023.
“Capture fisheries production is threatened by many factors and the only possible way to increase fish production is through intensification of aquaculture (fish farming) which is expected to contribute more to fish production in Rwanda,” said she declared.
Uwituze explained that until 2010, fish farming in ponds was the only common culture system adopted in Rwanda, but today other intensive systems are being promoted, such as fish farming in cages, tanks and dams.
“Current catch production from lakes and rivers is not sufficient to meet both internal and external demands, so there is a need to produce more fish from fish farming. Pond fish farming can contribute to fish production, job creation, eradication of malnutrition and increased fish consumption,” she said.
She explained that there are opportunities since the industry is still young and growing.
“There are also free marshes suitable for the development of fish ponds and without competition with crops,” she said, assuring that there was an availability of fingerlings.
She said the 12 hatcheries available in the country are capable of producing 40 million fingerlings per year.
State of fish imports
According to the report by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of which The New Times has a copy, fish imports fell from 22,473 tons worth Rwf22 billion in 2017 to 35,772 tons worth 32.5 billion Frw in 2020.
Fish imported into the country includes live fish, fresh or chilled fish, frozen fish, fillets or dried, salted or in brine fish as well as smoked fish, crustaceans and aquatic invertebrates.
The most popular fish species in Rwanda is the Nile tilapia, which accounts for 90% of the consumed stock, according to the report.
Despite high imports recorded in 2020, only 12,938 tons worth Rwf 15.4 billion were imported in 2021 due to Covid-19 disruption as explained by Jean Baptiste Ukwizagira in charge of research and Statistics at the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Importers reduced imports as the re-export market to the DRC was also disrupted by Covid-19 restrictions.
Rwanda has an important export and re-export market for fish in DR Congo, as almost 100% of fish exports are destined for this country.
From July to December 2021, Rwanda exported 15,857,089 kilograms of fish which all went to the neighboring country.