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New fish hatchery and aqua-feed unit inaugurated in Kyrgyzstan

A new fish hatchery and aqua feed production unit were inaugurated last week in the Issyk-Kul province of Kyrgyzstan – the first instance of support for aquaculture infrastructure since dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Financed by the Government of Finland, the facilities were built under an FAO project entitled, “Towards Sustainable Aquaculture and Fisheries Development in the Kyrgyz Republic.” Project activities will continue into 2017.

Finland allocated US$ 2.23 million for revival of fisheries and aquaculture in Kyrgyzstan’s inland waters – increasing fish production and promoting sustainable management of ecosystems.

Aquaculture was a developed and profitable subsector of Kyrgyz agriculture during the Soviet period, producing almost 1,500 tonnes annually – mostly in ponds.

Annual production has fallen significantly since 1991, with cessation of state budget support to the sector. By 2006, more than 90 percent of state fish farms had been privatized and total production had fallen to 71 tonnes per year.

"Worldwide, fish consumption per person averages about 15 kilograms,” said First Prime Minister Muhammetkalyi Abulgaziev, speaking at the inauguration ceremony in Issyk-Kul. “Having desperately low levels of fish consumption in Kyrgyzstan – less than one kilo per capita annually – we must provide more support to aquaculture and fisheries development in the country.”

Rich in water resources, Kyrgyzstan is rated as having strong potential for fisheries and aquaculture. The country’s 1,923 lakes have a total surface area of 6,800 square kilometres, while its 59 reservoirs have a total area of 47,311 square kilometers. In addition, the country boasts more than 30,000 rivers, fed by springs and glacial melt.

The FAO project is now in its second phase. It has contributed to the creation of 10 fish associations – in Issyk-Kul, Jalal-Abad, Chui and Naryn provinces. High-quality technical training for fish farmers, and for staff of the State Fish Department and scientific institutes, encouraged the establishment of private fish farms. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of carp and rainbow trout farms went from 53 to 267, while national fish production almost tripled (from 345 to 1100 tonnes).

Until now, the lack of local hatcheries and aqua feed production facilities has put a brake on growth. Fish farmers bought fingerlings and fish food from abroad, increasing production costs and undermining efforts to popularize fish consumption in Kyrgyzstan.

By year-end, another three hatcheries and two aqua-feed manufacturing plants for carp and trout production are expected to become operational – in Issyk-Kul and Jalal-Abad regions.

Fish associations and local authorities collaborated to build the new facilities, while the FAO project provided technical expertise, equipment and construction materials. Development of a fisheries course curriculum at the Kyrgyz National Agrarian University was also supported, along with sector policy advice and training.

27 July 2016, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

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