Aquaculture in Tanzania
Tanzania’s aquaculture industry generated USD 270 million in 2018, an increase of 26% from 2014. Aquaculture in Tanzania is dominated by farmers practicing both extensive and semi-intensive freshwater fish farming. The majority of fishing activities take place on fishponds, with an average size of 10m by 15m, which are integrated with other agricultural activities. Tanzania is estimated to have a total of 14,100 freshwater fishponds scattered across the country’s mainland. Tanzania shares borders along Lake Victoria with Kenya and Uganda, countries which also have an abundance of fishponds and which are also investing in aquaculture. This includes a USD 8 million investment by Kenya and Uganda reporting a 43% surge in fish production from 2017 to 2019. Despite being a landlocked nation, Uganda’s fishing sector contributes 12% to the national economy.
The distribution of fishponds is determined by several factors, including availability of water, suitability of land for fish farming, and awareness and motivation among the community on aquaculture’s economic potential. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United note that although shrimp farming is very profitable internationally, it is still in an experimental phase in Tanzania and has great potential for growth in the near future, with only a number of private companies currently holding plots and permits for the culture of shrimp.
Seaweed farming has recently become popular in coastal areas as a source of profitable income. Seaweed has emerged as a major cash crop in Tanga and Zanzibar, generating enough income to sustain households. The seaweed species farmed most in Tanzania are Kappaphycus cottonii, Eucheuma spinosum and E. striatum. Kappaphycus cottonii is believed to be indigenous while Eucheuma spinosum and E. striatum are species originating from the Philippines. There is potential for farming other species such as Glacilaria.
Aquaculture in the past has mainly only been seen as a means of subsistence, however in recent years Tanzania has worked to expand the sector, which now functioning in a more research-based and commercial manner.
Who is this document for?
This document provides an overview on aquaculture and opportunities for innovation in Tanzania. This article is mainly aimed at:
EU investors who seek to improve their knowledge about aquaculture in Tanzania and similar countries
Policymakers working to improve the aquaculture industry
SMEs operating or with interest in the aquaculture sector
In the subsequent levels, you will get a deeper understanding about Tanzania´s aquaculture and innovation and investment opportunities in the aquaculture sector.
Administrative Framework of Tanzanian Aquaculture
Tanzania’s Fisheries Division has administrative control and management of aquaculture. It formulates, implements and enforces policies, regulations, and legislation related to aquaculture. They manage development, planning, surveillance and quality control for the aquaculture sub sector. They support the private sector and associations and create awareness on aquaculture through seminars, workshops and sectoral meetings and training on key issues such as resource utilization.
Tanzania has several regulations to protect the environment, producers and consumers and to ensure the safety of aquaculture products. The main regulations include the Fisheries Legislation and international protocols such as the CCRF – Aquaculture of the FAO.
Tanzania also has several institutions which are responsible for fisheries research, education and training. The Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIMA) has overall responsibility for all research on fisheries. The Faculty of Aquatic Sciences and Technology (FAST) at the University of Dar Es Salaam and the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) are responsible for conducting research and training on Fisheries. The Mbegani Fisheries Development Centre and the Nyegezi Fisheries institute are also involved in training. The government sets research priorities through these institutions and decisions are based on both long-term criteria for planned development and short-term requirements. The government also funds research, disseminates research findings and trains researchers. Non-governmental institutions also fund research and collaborate with farmers on developing and implementing research projects and information delivery systems.
National and African innovation in Aquaculture
Seafood consumption in Eastern Africa has been increasing despite a general fish output decline, especially from Lake Victoria, one of the biggest sources of seafood in Eastern Africa. Tanzania is one of three countries sharing Lake Victoria, all of whom are focusing on increasing aquaculture investments as a source of seafood. The shift to aquaculture has also increased demand for quality fish feeds, sustainable milling enterprises and a viable network with international organizations and development partners to secure an uninterrupted supply of aquafeed and the ingredients that go into their manufacture.
Tanzania has reported increased fish production in recent years, supported by improved enforcement of targeted fisheries and aquaculture regulations, tougher measures to curb illegal fishing and the country’s efforts to address challenges caused by poor quality fish seed and aqua feeds. Fish production in the country grew by nearly 16% from 2015 to 2020 as the government reported achievements in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, including improvement in the management of the fisheries resources. The value of Tanzania’s fish exports went up by nearly 83% to EUR 264 million in 2019 as the government launched the revamping of the Tanzania Fisheries Corporation, a state-owned firm promoting the fish trade in and out of the country. The government has continued to promote investment in aquaculture and has increased the number of fish farmers from 18,843 to 26,474 in 2020.
The case for aquaculture is further strengthened by an emerging downward trend in the output of capture fisheries in East Africa, especially in Lake Victoria, due to various issues such as pollution, overfishing and a lack of regulation. Tanzania currently only produces an estimated 362,600 tons of fish, against a national consumption demand of 730000 tons. Due to this, there has been a spike in imports of fish which is leading to a missed opportunity. The Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO) is aiming to harmonize, develop and adopt conservation and management of fisheries in East Africa, and believes that the development of aquaculture is inevitable.
Withing East Africa, the six East African Community member countries have harmonized their aquafeed trade guidelines to ease production, supply and affordability in the region. The guidelines classify fish feeds to include processed feeds, Artemia and other raw materials used in fish feed production such as feed binders, fish meal, feed additives, premix and protein concentrates.
Tanzania aims to increase the output of fish through aquaculture by 50% by 2025 through strategies which support fishermen in skills, equipment and market. The Tanzanian Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries also launched a fishery resource management project on the coastal regions along the Indian Ocean, to improve fisheries management and environmental conditions to improve food security and reduce poverty.
International Innovation in Aquaculture
According to the FAO, aquaculture is the fastest growing agri-food sector globally and has huge potential for additional expansion in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Aquaculture accounts for over 50% of current fish consumption and is expected to exceed 60% over the next decade. However, the impacts of a growing climate crisis, and the disruption to production caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have created various challenges and slowed down the rate of growth and expansion of the sector.
The FAO aims to shape the future of aquaculture and seeks to optimize the sector’s contribution to global agri-food systems to be more in line with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Aquaculture plays an important role in FAO’s new Strategic Framework 2022-2031 through the Blue Transformation priority program, which aims to support a 35-40% growth in global aquaculture by 2030.
The FAO implemented the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries to develop and implement efficient policies and legal frameworks that promote sustainable and equitable aquaculture development, especially in developing countries. The organisation conducts a global review of aquaculture’s status quo and is developing Guidelines for Sustainable Aquaculture (GSA) to provide practical guidance for governments, authorities and policymakers in their efforts to advance the development of sustainable aquaculture sectors.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (ASA/WISHH) funded a two-week training programme for aquaculture leaders in Africa in 2021. Participants from various countries including Tanzania attended the training programme which focused on improvement of productivity, water quality, feed and disease management.
International organizations and development partners are working with aquaculture stakeholders in Eastern Africa to not only scale up fish feed production levels, but to streamline the supply chain across the region. Larive International, represented in East Africa by Lattice Consulting, is coordinating and managing FoodTechAfrica, a public-private partnership (PPP) that is co-financed by the Dutch government. FoodTechAfrica aims to unlock the potential of local fish and feed production in a sustainable and profitable way, combining powerful aquaculture solutions with market requirements, providing a localized mix of knowledge, practical skills and technology, enabling fish farmers to overcome farming constraints and become profitable aquaculture entrepreneurs.
FoodTechAfrica comprises 21 companies and universities improving food security in East Africa through the establishment of a fully integrated aquaculture value chain. The PPP together with Larive & Lattice are also the initiators, coordinators and managers of FeedTechKenya, another PPP focused on the Kenyan market and comprising of a consortium of both Dutch and Kenyan parties active in various areas of the feed value chain. The Netherlands, a leading player in East Africa’s animal and fish feed sector, is also, within the projects by Larive & Lattice, promoting the use of Dutch feed mill equipment, renowned for its quality and durability, while assuring the equipment meets the local needs and fits within the local environment. However, because other feed millers in the East African market are still using lower quality equipment, many are still producing below capacity.
The European Union Commission, under the 11th European Development Fund Regional Indicative Programme, granted 10 million Euros to the LVFO project, TrueFish. The project seeks to promote aquaculture in East Africa, address or remove impediments to growth in aquaculture and to identify and address threats to sustainability in the aquaculture sector. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is also working with Tanzania through the Agricultural and Fisheries Development Programme (AFDP), worth USD 77.4 million, to boost aquaculture development centers and production of Tilapia and Catfish.
Innovation Opportunities in Tanzania’s aquaculture
Knowledge sharing and practical skills training are the secret weapon to unlocking Tanzania’s emerging aquaculture sector’s full potential. The demonstration farm Big Fish in Dar es Salaam, is a modern aquaculture production facility showcasing an integrated approach to fish farming, including innovative recirculation-based systems, improved genetics and high-quality construction materials. It includes the unique Recirculation Aquaculture System (RAS) for tilapia farming and a hatchery producing high-quality YY-fingerlings. The project is supported by the Kingdom of the Netherlands through the Impact Cluster initiative using localised Dutch technology from Dutch partners such as Holland Aqua, Viqon, Genap, Til Aqua, Larive International and Lattice Consulting. The Impact Cluster aims at supporting the Tanzanian National Industrialisation Agenda by driving the growth of the Tanzanian aquaculture sector. The motive is to provide tailored equipment, quality inputs and in-depth training and support services to entrepreneurs.
A genomics marker tool created by the Earlham Institute, the Tanzanian Fisheries Research Institute, Roehampton University, Bangor University, the University of Bristol and the University of East Anglia, can further empower aquaculture producers and conservation in Tanzania.
Eastern Africa’s seafood industry remains largely untapped and offers huge opportunities for commercial aquaculture, including production of live fish food such as Artemia, daphnia and rotifers, and investments in the fish feed industry.
Efforts to develop a vibrant aquafeed market in the region face several hurdles such as fluctuating prices of key aquafeed ingredients including corn and soybeans both in the local and international markets. Import restrictions for raw materials which increase costs and scarcity of raw materials and a lack access to finance for fish farmers and feed millers are the other challenges East Africa’s aquafeed market faces.
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- Aquaculture - TanzaniaInvest
- Fisheries and Aquaculture - National Aquaculture Sector Overview - Tanzania, United Rep. of (fao.org)
- FAO: Aquaculture can meet global food needs | 2021-09-24 | World Grain (world-grain.com)