1. Characteristics, structure and resources of the sector
    1. Summary
    2. History and general overview
    3. Human resources
    4. Farming systems distribution and characteristics
    5. Cultured species
    6. Practices/systems of culture
  2. Sector performance
    1. Production
    2. Market and trade
    3. Contribution to the economy
  3. Promotion and management of the sector
    1. The institutional framework
    2. The governing regulations
    3. Applied research, education and training
  1. Trends, issues and development
    1. References
      1. Bibliography
      2. Related links
    Characteristics, structure and resources of the sector
    Congolese aquaculture is based essentially on household subsistence fish farming, with a predominance of tilapia culture, despite the potential that exists for rearing other farmed species.

    Aquaculture infrastructure exists in every Province in “Centres d'alevinage principaux” (CAP) (“Primary Breeding Centres”) and “Centres d'alevinage secondaires” (CAS) (“Secondary Breeding Centres”). Conversely, there is an acute shortage of human and material resources, and very few trained aquaculture managers.

    In recent years, domestic annual aquaculture output has varied from 2 t000 to 3 000 tonnes, worth between US$5 and US$7.5 million (FAO, 2005a).
    History and general overview
    The first aquaculture trials were carried out between 1937 and 1945, initially in the Provinces of Katanga (at Lubumbashi) and Kasaï Oriental (at Ngandajika), then in Bandundu Province (Kwango and Kwilu), and lastly in the Orientale and Kivu Provinces.

    By 1959, 120 000 ponds had been built covering a total surface area of 4 000 ha producing over 6 000 tonnes a year, accounting for about 4 percent of aggregate national fish production (FAO/ADB, 1990). That production would be worth US$12 at today's prices.

    The country does not have an aquaculture tradition. Tilapia are raised by the small farmers in earth ponds built in the valleys and in other wetlands, using extensive and semi-extensive household aquaculture systems, to improve the diets of the indigenous and rural people.

    Between 1945 and 1960, the strategies used to achieve those results consisted of:
    • Installing support, demonstration, research and training facilities throughout the country in over 25 primary and secondary breeding centres covering a total area of 33.92 ha.
    • Installing relief ponds in certain territories and sectors.
    • Ensuring the supervision of fish farmers by CAP technicians, with extension work entrusted to the local government authorities.
    • Promoting on-farm aquaculture research, conducted by the Institut National pour l'étude agronomique du Congo (INEAC- Belgium).
    Annual average aquaculture production by small-holders varied from 180 to 450 kg/ha, whereas in the breeding centres, the annual production was between 900 and 3 600 kg/ha (Deceuninck, 1990).

    After the departure of the Belgian, French and United States technicians who had worked there in the period 1980-1990, annual average pond yields fell to barely 3 000 kg/ha in the periurban environments and 1 500 to 1 800 kg/ha in the rural world.
    Human resources
    No information is yet available on the numbers of people involved in this sector, or of full-time or part-time aquaculture workers.

    Nevertheless, for a few large towns, the National Aquaculture Service (Service national d'aquaculture) has published the following numbers of aquaculturalists: Kinshasa Province/city: 1 800; Orientale Province (Kisangani): 593; Katanga Province (Lubumbashi): 130; Bas Congo Province: 152; Sud Kivu Province: 1 444; Nord Kivu Province: 126; Bandundu Province: 2 156; Maniema Province: 445; Kasaï Oriental Province: 1 245.
    Farming systems distribution and characteristics
    All the provinces in the Democratic Republic of Congo are encouraging the practice and development of aquaculture. The main development potential features at the present time are:
    • Bandundu Province
      Aquaculture in the Kwango and Kwilu Districts is practised in large complexes of individual Tilapia ponds, mainly of Tilapia rendalli. The total area under water is 4 850 ha (Provincial Coordination, Annual Report 2002).
    • Kasaï Province
      Stocks are a combination of T. rendalli and Oreochromis macrochir. The ponds cover an area of 1 504 ha (Provincial Coordination Panel, Annual Report 2003). Aquaculture is more widely practised in Kasaï Oriental than in Kasaï Occidental.
    • Katanga Province
      This is where the first major aquaculture trials were conducted. It is concentrated in the districts of Haut Lomami, Lualaba, Haut Katanga and the town of Lubumbashi). Ponds measuring about 100 m² are grouped together roughly in groups of ten, populated mainly with O. macrochir and T. rendalli. The area under aquaculture is 850 ha (Katanga Provincial Coordination Panel, 2002).
    • Nord and Sud Kivu Provinces
      Aquaculture is fairly well developed here, mainly in Sud Kivu (Mwenga, Shabunda), Maniema (Kasongo, Pangi, Kabambare, etc) and Nord Kivu (Lubero and Walikale). Dammed ponds, each covering quite a large surface area, have generally been installed at a springhead, and stocked with T. rendalli, O. nigrus, O. niloticus and O. andersonii. The total area farmed exceeds 192 ha (Nord Kivu Provincial Coordination Panel, 1990).
    • Orientale and Equateur Provinces
      In these predominantly forested provinces the individual pond areas can reach several dozen ares in size. Total farmed areas exceed 526 ha in the Orientale Province and about 100 ha in Equateur Province.
    Cultured species
    Two types of fish are farmed: tilapias (mainly Tilapia rendalli and Oreochromis macrochir in ponds; Oreochromis niloticus and Oreochromis andersonii in small impoundments) and catfish (Clarias gariepinus).

    Experimental breeding trials with of Haplochromis, Ophiocephalus and Serranochromis mellandi, have not produced any conclusive results.

    Officially, several exotic species were introduced, mainly in the 1950s and 1960s, including four species of Oreochromis, Heterotis niloticus, Cyprinus carpio and Astatoreochromis alluandi (FAO, 2005b). However, rearing these species has not been developed since then.
    Practices/systems of culture
    Two types of tilapia and catfish rearing are practised.

    Tilapias are raised in fresh water ponds in perennial river valleys. They mainly feed on planktonic microorganisms whose growth is encouraged by composting. Reproduction is obtained by monoculture. The fry resulting from this operation are sometimes separately sexed and raised in pre-fattening ponds. Conversely, catfish are bred by artificial egg fertilisation. The fry survival rate is still very low.
    Sector performance
    No reliable production statistics have been available for the past 10 years, after the conclusion of the United States, Belgian and French Cooperation project activities in 1990 as a result of the many outbreaks of war, which led most of the rural people to give up fish farming.

    Before these events, the provincial statistics were as follows:
    Province 1998 1999 1990
    No. of ponds Total area (ha) Estimated
    production (tonnes)
    No of ponds Total area (ha) Estimated
    production (tonnes)
    No. of ponds Total area (ha) Estimated production (tonnes)
    Kinshasa 769 49 123 769 49 123 1 071 51 128
    Bas Congo 3 432 39 97 3 612 44 111 3 612 44 111
    Bandundu 18 979 90 224 53 233 91 226 54 199 322 806
    Kasaï Occid 2 627 12 31 3 127 20 50 3 189 20 51
    Kasaï Orient 2 089 10 123 2 132 59 148 2 132 59 148
    Katanga 1 127 64 160 1 147 65 163 1 147 65 162
    Kivu 4 987 53 1 342 10 983 501 1 253 10 983 501 1 253
    Equateur 1 477 7 177 1 546 73 184 1 546 73 184
    Orientale 1 028 190 474 1 028 170 423 1 028 170 425
    Republic of Congo
    36 515 1 101 2 751 77 577 1 072 2 683 78 907 1 305 3 269

    The most recent statistics available to FAO for 2004 put aquaculture production at 2965 tonnes, worth the equivalent of 7 419 000 million of US dollars EU (FAO, 2005a).

    The graph below shows total aquaculture production in Democratic Republic of the Congo according to FAO statistics:

    Market and trade
    In the vast majority of cases, subsistence agriculture is practised in the rural areas whereas in the periurban environments there is an increasing trend towards commercial aquaculture.

    For around the large towns (Kinshasa, Kisangani and Lubumbashi) occasional fish sales are now developing, including farm-gate sales. Tilapia is sold for between two and three US dollars there.
    Contribution to the economy
    Aquaculture makes only a tiny contribution to food security and to poverty reduction and elimination in vulnerable households, and to the GDP, which is difficult to estimate. Aquaculture’s share of GDP at the end of the 1980s was about 1.2 percent of the 17 percent of total fish production (Deceuninck, 1990).
    Promotion and management of the sector
    The institutional framework
    Nationwide responsibility for aquaculture lies with the National Aquaculture Service (Service national d'aquaculture - SENAQUA) within the Ministry of Agriculture. Its remit is to draft national aquaculture development policies and strategies, and to coordinate and organise aquaculture development.

    SENAQUA is tasked with the following:
    • Managing the primary and secondary breeding centres.
    • Organising aquaculture coordination in the administrative areas of the country.
    • Evaluating current aquaculture resources, ways of reviving aquaculture, and the priorities.
    • Re-establishing the national register covering the whole area of the Ministry's aquaculture policy.
    • Directing the Ministry's aquaculture policy.
    • Coordinating all the aquaculture actions initiated by national, bilateral or multilateral projects and programmes of which these projects are specific and specialised branches.
    • Relaunching applied research in aquaculture.
    At the central level, SENAQUA has a National Coordination Panel, six Divisions and 18 Bureaux. At the Provincial level (11) it has 11 Provincial Coordination Panels, one Bureau in each District (52), one unit in each Territory (245) and 25 Primary and Secondary Breeding Centres in every Province.
    The governing regulations
    There is still no legal framework regulating aquaculture, because it has so far remained a purely subsistence activity practised by rural people. But for some time now, efforts have been authorised by the government to formulate a legal framework to guarantee sustainable aquaculture development. A request for funding has been submitted to FAO for this purpose.
    Applied research, education and training
    Agricultural research facilities exist at Lubumbashi University (Faculties of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture), the Regional School for Integrated Tropical Forest Management (Ecole régionale d'aménagement intégré de la forêt tropicale - ERAIFT) in Kinshasa, the National Institute for Agricultural Study and Research (Institut national d'études et recherches agronomiques - INERA), ISP Bukavu and Kisangani University.

    Research priorities are laid down to meet the needs emerging from the field and are forwarded directly to the research institutions or they are formulated through the National Aquaculture Service.

    Non-Governmental Organisations and associations of aquaculture producers work in technical partnership with SENAQUA which provides extension services based on its own experience and on the results of applied research.

    The Faculty of Agriculture at the Universities of Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Lubumbashi University run aquaculture courses.
    Trends, issues and development
    Since its introduction, aquaculture has only been considered as a secondary activity by small-holders.

    Initially installed in the rural environment for food security purposes, the comparatively recent development of aquaculture in the periurban zones explains the current trend towards establishing profitable, sustainable and commercial aquaculture farms around the large towns and cities.
    Coordination provinciale de Bandundu . 2002 . Rapport annuel 2002.
    Coordination provinciale du Kasaï oriental. 2003. Rapport annuel 2003.
    Coordination provinciale du Katanga. Rapport annuel 2002.
    Coordination provinciale du Nord Kivu. 1990. Rapport annuel 1990.
    Deceuninck, V. 1990 . Etudes nationales pour le développement de l'aquaculture en Afrique. 28. Zaïre. FAO Circ. Pêches, (770.28). 194 pp.
    FAO. 2005 a. Global aquaculture production (1950–2004) Congo, Dem. Rep. of the.
    FAO. 2005 b. Database on introductions of aquatic species (DIAS). Search for Introduced Species Fact Sheet – Congo, Dem. Rep. of the.
    FAO/BAD. 1990. Rapport annuel 1990.
    Related links
    Powered by FIGIS