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2.1 Characteristics of production in the region
2.2 Regional production data
2.3 Production systems and practices in the region
2.4 Producers in the region
2.5 Organizations of producers
2.6 Financial investment by public and private enterprises
2.7 Technical assistance projects in the sub-sector
2.8 Capital assistance projects in the sub-sector

2.1 Characteristics of production in the region

The production of fish and shellfish through aquaculture in the African region as described is limited compared with the historical production in Asia, and modern production in Europe and even Latin America. Except in a few countries, such as Benin, Ghana, and Mauritius, where the attachment of the people to capture fisheries probably enabled them to evolve traditional forms of aquaculture and management (in acadjas, whedos, and barochois, etc.), aquaculture is not a tradition in most African countries.

Classical aquaculture was introduced into inland areas of the region in the late 1940s and early 1950s. It is presently practised in all three environments, namely freshwater, brackishwater, and marine waters, but almost all activities continue to be concentrated in freshwater from which about 97% of the region's production is derived. This is predominantly fish, and in particular the indigenous and ubiquitous species of tilapias. Brackishwater fish culture and marine fish culture, as well as the culture of crustaceans and molluscs, are recent innovations, dating back no more than 20 years. So far, marine algae are not cultured in the region.

Aquaculture practices are characterized by the use of numerous small production units, mainly earthen ponds of less than 0.04 ha in size, a low level of inputs, such as seed, feed, and fertilizer, and simple technologies. Yields are generally low.

2.2 Regional production data

FAO statistics for 1985 (Table 2) indicate that collectively some 31 of the 48 countries of the region which provided information, produced less than 10 500 t of fish and shellfish. The world production was 7 815 569 t and the main producer was East Asia (6 288 000 t).

The figure of 10 500 t, however, requires qualification. Most fisheries administrations in African countries, which are usually responsible for the aquaculture sub-sector, do not have strong statistical collection and collation services. Furthermore, aquaculture production activities in the region are peculiar in that they are predominantly rural and oriented toward meeting the nutritional needs of the farmer and his extended family. For example, a large percentage of family production, from about 25% in Côte d'Ivoire and CAR to as much as 50% in Kenya, is consumed directly and therefore not reported and recorded. Only in the last decade has modern small-scale commercial aquaculture been practised and benefited the producer in terms of maximizing the family income. This trend, particularly freshwater farming in Kenya, Nigeria, and Zambia, and brackishwater farming in Côte d'Ivoire, Mauritius and Réunion, has enabled more reliable but basic statistics to be produced.

Of the 10 500 t produced in the region in 1985, over 89% came from only eight countries, namely Nigeria (5 000 t), followed by Kenya (1 120 t), Zambia (975 t), Zimbabwe (830 t), Ghana (450 t). Côte d'Ivoire (383 t), CAR (294 t) and Cameroon (256 t). Four countries, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zaïre, produced 100 to 220 t each, while the other 19 countries reported production of less than 75 t.

About 97% of the region's production was from freshwater, 1% from brackishwater aquaculture, and 2% from coastal marine waters. In terms of fish type, 97.5% were finfish, 0.6% were crustaceans, and 1.9% molluscs.

2.3 Production systems and practices in the region

Excluding the traditional systems of enhanced fisheries, that is, the acadjas, whedos, and barachois, etc., all three principal production systems based on the level of intensity and inputs are practised in the region. These are the extensive, semi-intensive, and intensive systems.

As the spectrum of possible practices within these systems is continuous it is frequently difficult to set precise limits for each. However, in brief, in the extensive system cultured organisms are kept at low densities and they are dependent on natural productivity for food, but at times productivity is assisted by fertilization of the substrate using manure or organic wastes. This is the oldest and most widespread system practised in the region. Extensive farming is also practised in ricefields in Madagascar, and for oysters in Mauritius, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

In the semi-intensive system cultured organisms are kept at higher densities than would be the case in extensive culture; they are dependent on both increased productivity provided by organic fertilization (compost or manure) and some supplementary feeding made up with locally available agricultural by-products and household leftovers. In some countries, for example, CAR, Madagascar, and Zambia, livestock husbandry is combined with the culture of fish to provide manure in the ponds.

The intensive system entails stocking cultured organisms at very high densities, providing artificial feed for their nutritional requirement, and all other inputs. This is the least used system in the region, but a number of commercial farms exist in Kenya, and to a lesser extent in Nigeria and Zambia and Zimbabwe. The intensive culture system has so far not been able to maintain commercial viability in the region, either as private or public enterprises; for example, the Natio Kobadara fish farm, cage culture in Kossou Lake, and the Africa BP farm, all in Côte d'Ivoire, the Godomey fish farm in Benin, the Banfora fish farm (closed in 1984) in Burkina Faso, the Brazzaville industrial fish farm in Congo, and the Aviara fish farm in Nigeria, have all closed for a number of reasons, or are experiencing financial difficulties.

Earthen ponds are the basic production units in the region, but some raceways and tanks are also in use in Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Zambia, and net pens and cages are being used in Côte d'Ivoire and Zimbabwe.

Countries with no reported aquaculture production have been excluded from Table 4. These countries are Botswana, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Sao Tomé-et-Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, and St. Helena.

The species cultured in the region include a variety of indigenous and exotic species (Table 4). However, the most widely cultivated species is the tilapia, especially Tilapia nilotica (Oreochromis niloticus). The species has been introduced into salt-water areas as well, in addition to Tilapia melanotheron (Sarotherodon melanotheron) and Tilapia guineensis which naturally occur in brackishwater. The common carp is grown in Cameroon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, and Nigeria, and Clarias gariepinus is cultured in Burundi, Cameroon, CAR, Gabon, Malawi, and Nigeria, and to a lesser extent in at least five other countries. Other species are grown only in 2 or 3 countries.

Among the crustaceans, the penaeids, Penaeus monodon, P. indicus and P. notialis, are produced in Kenya and Tanzania, and are being cultivated on an experimental basis in about six countries, namely Côte d'Ivoire, the Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar and Senegal. Macrobrachium rosenbergii is cultivated in Mauritius, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

The oysters Crassostrea sp. are grown in Mauritius, Senegal, and Sierra Leone, and Pinctada margaritifera in Sudan.

In the 1950s, about 300 000 fish ponds were operating throughout the African continent, but this number has dwindled substantially. Many ponds have been abandoned because of poor returns, lack of fingerlings, continuous drought, or loss of water to competing agricultural users. Available information indicates that in 1985 there were about 49 000 (1 869 ha) rural ponds averaging 0.04 ha in the region (Table 5). The country with the largest surface under water was Zaïre (265 ha), followed by Nigeria (200 ha), Cameroon (170 ha), Ghana (150 ha). Côte d'Ivoire and Malawi (140 ha each). The remaining countries had less than 100 ha under water. About 455 ha has currently been put to rice and fish culture in Madagascar (Table 5).

A few large-scale commercial fish farms are found in Nigeria (5-8), Kenya (6), Zambia (5) and Côte d'Ivoire (2). They range in size from 2.4 to 30 ha.

2.4 Producers in the region

Socio-economic surveys of rural fish farmers have been undertaken in a number of countries in the region. These include Cameroon, CAR, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, Madagascar, and Zambia. These surveys have revealed the adaptability of producers. The producers include not only crop and livestock farmers, but also civil servants, retired civil servants, local businessmen, storekeepers, and individuals with other jobs. Furthermore, women are also involved directly as owners of fish ponds in Benin, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, CAR, Congo, Gabon, and Zaïre.

There are two main types of producers in the region, namely the owner/operator and the owner/non-operator. Different groups of individuals appear also to be attracted by different aquaculture systems. In most cases the small-scale rural farmers are owner/operators and practise extensive farming. The more aggressive farmers, particularly chose living near large towns and who in most cases have other professional jobs, practise semi-intensive farming. Semi-intensive husbandry is dominated by well-placed individuals, corporate companies, and estates, all of whom operate large-scale production units. The intensive system, for the most part, remains experimental, although it is used in Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The total number of producers in the region is not known accurately. It can be estimated through extrapolation of reasonably accurate figures for family type ponds in Cameroon (5 500), CAR (6 495), Côte d'Ivoire (2 900), Kenya (6 000), and Madagascar (3 625), which indicate that, on average, a producer has 1.3 ponds. On this basis, it is estimated chat there are about 49 600 families or small-scale producers in the region, together with about 50 large-scale operators most of whom are in Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe (see Table 5).

2.5 Organizations of producers

Fish farmers' organizations exist in a number of countries at both the national and local levels. At the national level they can be found in Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. The Ghana Fish Farmers' Association (GFFA) was founded in 1979 and had branches at Accra, Ashanti, and Tema. However, only the Ashanti branch, with about 20 members, exists at present. The Fish Farmers' Association of Nigeria (FFAN) was launched in January 1988 at Ibadan, and regional branches are yet to be formed. Associations of purely regional or local character are the Groupement à Vocation Coopérative (GVC) in Côte d'Ivoire (5) and the fish farmers' associations in Cameroon (15) and CAR (6). Except in Côte d'Ivoire, where the first GVCs were formed at the impulsion of the Government in 1980, the formation of fish farmers' associations has been largely autonomous with little outside financing and minimal governmental involvement.

The objectives of the organizations include, among others, stimulation of interest in aquaculture, discussion of problems facing the industry, sharing and promotion of ideas and experiences, and obtaining assistance from government and financial institutions to develop the sector of aquaculture. The organizations are governed by a set of rules and regulations (statutes).

In addition to these farmer-oriented organizations, there are aquaculture programmes for schools in Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, Madagascar, and Zambia. In Côte d'Ivoire, for example, 86 schools own 316 ponds (13 ha). Whereas voluntary cooperative groups face organizational problems which are often complicated by village socio-cultural characteristics for decision-making, as among the GVCs in Côte d'Ivoire, the fish farming programmes at school level have been very effective with a high degree of participation by the children, parents, and teachers involved.

2.6 Financial investment by public and private enterprises

During the past 5 years public sector financing of the aquaculture sector has been limited. This has been due to the difficult economic climate in most countries throughout the region, but also as a result of the sector's poor performance record in the past. However, financial investments made by some governments in the sector have been substantial. Between 1978-86 the Government of Côte d'Ivoire spent about CFA.F. 848 million as its contribution to the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP)/FAO project for freshwater fish production, extension, and training, and has committed to spend CFA.F. 1 482 million during the third phase of the project. CAR provided over CFA.F. 72 million to aquaculture development between 1972-84. In the fiscal year 1988 the Government of Nigeria has allocated Naira 6 million, or 43% of the total budget of Naira 13 million of the Department of Fisheries, for aquaculture. The Governments of Gabon and Nigeria supported the training of 2 and 39 of their citizens respectively at courses organized at the UNDP/FAO African Regional Aquaculture Centre (ARAC) in Port Harcourt, Nigeria (see Section 4.1) between 1980 and 1986. Many other governments have made investments in the training of staff.

Figures of investments by other countries are not available, but in most cases, the investments covered little more than staff salaries. The lack of financial resources has adversely affected the efficiency of extension services and the operation of fish seed production centres in many countries.

All aquaculture practices require some initial capital investment, particularly for the construction of ponds or other production units, but the operator also needs to procure initial inputs as well as annual inputs. Rural ponds are often built by farmers and their families. While this is still an important investment in time, not much cash may be required. Available information indicates that the cost of constructing 100 m2 ponds in CAR and Sierra Leone is approximately US$ 60-100, while large-scale ponds of about 1 ha cost about US$ 2 700 to construct in Nigeria. These costs are high in relation to the GNP of the region.

2.7 Technical assistance projects in the sub-sector

The development of the aquaculture sector in the African region has been greatly aided by international technical assistance at the level of producers by the major multilateral and bilateral institutions. Technical assistance, as distinguished from capital assistance (see 2.8) which refers to the provision of funds for capital infrastructure, refers to funds for carrying out investment studies for production, demonstration projects, and production-support activities.

Some 16 technical assistance organizations currently support aquaculture development in Africa as a whole. This support is manifest in about 60 ongoing projects, many of which have components of production. These may be either assisting production in private operations or government fish farms. In association with active support for production at the farm level, these projects invariably support credit, extension, and technical training.

National projects within the region financed by UNDP which are concerned with production currently exist in CAR for freshwater fish farming and supply of credit; in Congo for the development of fish culture; in Côte d'Ivoire for freshwater fish production in rural areas, extension, and training; in Kenya for small-scale farming in the Lake Basin for fish production, extension, and training; in Madagascar (2) for rice and freshwater fish and marine shrimp production, extension, and training, and in Mali (2) for freshwater fish production in irrigated areas and for assisting government organization of the sector.

The European Development Fund supports projects in Benin for the production of tilapia and catfish, extension, and training; in Burkina Faso for freshwater fish production in small water bodies, and extension; and in Malawi for fish farming research and development, extension, and training.

FAO, through its Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP), supports short-term activities in the region for the management of fish farming and extension, for the production of shrimps in rice fields in reclaimed coastal land, and for freshwater fish and duck farming. In Zimbabwe it is rehabilitating the Henderson Research Station.

US Peace Corps Volunteers have maintained a long association with the development of rural fish farming in many African countries for many years, particularly in Cameroon, CAR, Kenya, Senegal, Togo, and Zaïre.

The US Agency for International Development (US AID) currently supports work in Rwanda for freshwater fish production and integrated farming in ponds; the Overseas Development Administration of the United Kingdom is active in Tanzania supporting general fish culture development; the Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS) and the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands support a project in Zambia for fish farming and integrated farming development, fingerling production in the Cameroon, shrimp production in the Gambia, and freshwater fish production potential in Nigeria; and the Norwegian Agency for International Development (NORAD) of Norway supports an integrated fish farming and extension project in the Northern Province of Zambia.

The Ministère de la Cooperation (FAC) in France supports regional development in pisciculture as a whole, and has individual projects in Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, Madagascar, Niger, and Senegal for both freshwater fishes and crustaceans.

The German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) promotes fish culture in Benin, Burkina Faso, Liberia, and Malawi, in addition to support for research and information.

Sweden, through the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA), supports a regional project in Zambia, and through the Agency for Research Cooperation with Developing Countries (SAREC) a national project in Cape Verde.

Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) are also active in rural fish culture development in Africa. Several of these projects, such as those in CAR, Côte d'Ivoire, and Madagascar, are large and long-term, and have been responsible for expanding the national sectors substantially.

2.8 Capital assistance projects in the sub-sector

Capital assistance projects in this sub-sector in the region are very few. The Government of the Netherlands in 1979 built the first modern hatchery in the region for the reproduction of Clarius gariepinus in CAR. Bilateral assistance from France, through the Caisse Centrale de Cooperation Economique (CCCE) and/or the Ministère de la Coopération (FAC), supports projects in Congo (industrial fish farming); in Côte d'Ivoire (brackishwater aquaculture project); in Niger (cage culture project in the Niger) and in Senegal (fish culture project in Matam).

The African Development Bank (AfDB) provides funds for the construction of ponds in Guinea. The International Tilapia Foundation in the Netherlands supports small projects in Benin and Togo on fish farming and rural community development. The World Bank (WB) is making a major loan to Nigeria for the development of aquaculture, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is considering additional assistance which includes the rehabilitation of two fish farms at Mando (Kaduna) and Umuna-Okigwe (Owerri), as well as the construction of hatcheries at these farms. In addition, some of the projects detailed in section 2.7, particularly the UNDP-funded projects in CAR, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Madagascar, and Kenya have small components of capital assistance.

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