Aquaculture plays an important role in the national economy. In 2001, fisheries and aquaculture accounted for 3.1 percent of the agricultural GDP and 0.74 percent of aggregate GDP (Anon. 2001). At that time the trade balance was in surplus by over 30 million CFA francs (60 million of US dollars), despite a deficit in terms of volume (imports of 219 000 tonnes against exports of 65 626 tonnes). This was due to the very high value-added exported products, mainly canned foods, which generated 125 billion CFA francs (Anon. 2001).
With regard to food security, fish is the primary source of animal protein for Côte d'Ivoire consumers. Annual national fish consumption is estimated at between 250 000 and 300 000 tonnes with annual local catches averaging 80 000 tonnes (Anon. 1997). Considering that fish is comparatively cheaper than meat, even the poorer households are able to afford it. In 2001, about 67 percent of annual average per capita fish consumption of 13.2 kg was met from imports. In view of the volume and foreign exchange costs of these imports the government decided to intensify the development of fisheries and aquaculture. However, since national maritime fish resources are limited, any policy designed to cover fish requirements while guaranteeing food security would necessarily have to focus on artisanal fishing, and above all on aquaculture. That will also make it easier for fishers to switch over to aquaculture, providing them with a source of income and at the same time encouraging young people to remain in the rural environment.
Current fisheries and aquaculture policy is incorporated into the Agricultural Development Master Plan 1992-2015, designed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources. Under it, three general objectives have been set for all the sectors addressed:
The first attempts at introducing aquaculture date back to 1955 when the colonial administration created an Aquaculture Section at the Water and Forestry Service. In 1958, a research centre was established near Bouaké by the “Centre technique forestier tropical (France)”. After 1960, the Ivory Coast government took over responsibility for aquaculture development. Fish farming centres responsible for supervision, government-owned fish-breeding stations and research establishments were created. At the same time, several bilateral and multilateral aquaculture development projects took off.
Inland aquaculture is still essentially a secondary rural occupation, generally practised on small farms in small freshwater ponds with low productivity rates. There are several different types of farm. There are farms with small water bodies, subsistence farms, and small and large-scale commercial farms. Production systems range from extensive to semi-intensive (with composite feed). As a general rule, most of them farm tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus and O. aureus) and Sampa (Heterobranchus longifilis).
Lagoon aquaculture has been practised since the 1980s in brackish or fresh water. These are breeding farms producing both tilapia (O. niloticus, O. aureus, Sarotherodon melanotheron) in floating cages, and bagrid catfish (Chrysichthys nigrodigitatus) (Hem, 1982) and sampa (H. longifilis) in enclosures. These are all intensive production systems.
Since 2000, annual aquaculture production has reached 1 200 tonnes (Anon., 2002; Anon., 2003a). The average yields from the different production systems are:
There are no accurate figures on the numbers of people engaged in this sector. However numerous agents (design and implementation) have been trained in the national universities and in leading African and Western Agricultural Colleges and Faculties and in vocational training institutes for fish farmer supervisors.
There are about 1 000 aquaculture farmers who are either illiterate or have had little schooling. It is also a male-dominated sector. In 1970, land tenure rights were made marketable, replacing the earlier system of land ownership exchange that had prevailed in the 1950s.
Since 1977 several aquaculture development projects have been implemented. One such was the UNDP-FAO Rural Aquaculture Development Project and the Lagoon Aquaculture Project which made it possible to sensitise the people of Ivory Coast to fish farming.
The government subsequently redirected its aquaculture development strategy by creating regional projects to place fish farming on a better footing throughout the whole country.
Today, national aquaculture production covers an area of about 500 ha.
Two industrial facilities (Ivograin and Faci) produce feed for aquaculture. The Oceanological Research Centre (CRO) also produces fish feed at Layo. Another company (REAL) produces approximately 6 000 tonnes/year of fishmeal, partly used to manufacture aquaculture feed stock (Anon., 2002).
Some 100 to 200 kg of dried brine shrimp cysts are imported every year to feed catfish larvae in hatcheries.
To prepare catfish breeding stock for reproduction, fresh mackerel is distributed to supplement the composite feed.
Several species of fish have been extensively, semi-intensively or intensively farmed in the past, and this practice continues today. The species are tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus introduced from the River Nile in Egypt, Oreochromis aureus from Israel and Egypt and Blackchin tilapia from Senegal), Chrysichthys nigrodigitatus, Heterotis niloticus from Cameroon and catfish (Heterobranchus longifilis, Clarias gariepinus). The most commonly used of these species in Côte d'Ivoire are tilapias, particularly O. niloticus.
Ornamental fish, generally Cichlids, are bred at Grand-Bassam and 95 percent of the production is exported.
Some species have been introduced into the country. They are mainly tilapia Sarotherodon melanotheron, Heterobranchus isopterus and the grass carp Ctenopharyngodon idellus. The two latter species are currently being studied by research establishments (CRO, CNRA, Universities) to see if they can be used for fish farming. Potentially interesting fish species such as Lates niloticus, Labeo coubie and Distichodus rostratus are also under study.
The aquaculture of seaweed (spirulina) is only in the early stages.
The last two are used for inland aquaculture of which the UNDP-FAO project acted as the development driver. These systems are mainly used for rearing tilapia and are the most common.
Between 1991 and 2000 national aquaculture production (in tonnes) was as follows, for each rearing system.
The aggregate value of production in 2000 (1 200 tonnes) has been put at 1.5 billion CFA francs, equivalent to 3 million US dollars (Anon., 2000).
Conversely, in 2002 national aquaculture production only reached about 866 tonnes (Anon., 2002). The sharp decline in production between 2000 and 2002 was due to the sociopolitical situation in the country which made it impossible to travel through the various production areas in order to gather data.
It should be emphasized that the figures given here are largely underestimates. At the present time it is very difficult to provide an accurate estimate of aquaculture production, largely because of a lack of human, financial and logistical resources at the disposal of the supervisory services. This difficulty also has to do with the irregularity of production, the wide geographical scattering of fish farming, and the refusal on the part of some fish farmers to disclose information on their harvests.
Data on aquaculture production is normally collected through regional projects or the decentralized Fisheries Services of the Fish Production Directorate. Unfortunately, for the moment there are still no production statistics that can be used to set up a reliable database.
The graph below shows total aquaculture production in Côte d'Ivoire according to FAO statistics:
Aquaculture products are generally considered to be luxury items (the price per kilogram various from 1 200 to 2 500 CFA francs, or 2.40 to 5 US dollars) in comparison with local or imported fisheries products. This means that only a minority of the population can afford to buy them, particularly because the average consumer is very sensitive to this price difference and prefers cheaper fish.
Generally speaking, fish is sold fresh and whole on the markets. Unlike fisheries products, farmed fish is very rarely smoked or dried.
It is usually sold by the kilogram or in a short circuit, using two methods:
A price comparison between these two types of fish shows a major difference. For example, the average price of fisheries tilapia is lower if the fish in the heap are smaller. Conversely, the price per kilogram of farmed fish rises if the production costs rise. This means that for the standard 350 g of tilapia, lake products are cheaper than farmed tilapia.
Little information is actually available on the way the markets work (the local, national and export markets) and the way they are regulated. And today, the little interest shown in understanding the evolution of farmed fish consumption patterns is a serious handicap for all projects (Anon., 1995; 2003a).
Despite the recent decline in production, over the past five years the annual average has exceeded 1 000 tonnes. This accounts for approximately 1 percent of annual national fish production of between 70 000 and 100 000 tonnes (Anon., 2003a). Considering the large national annual demand of between 250 000 and 300 000 tonnes of fish products (15 to 20 kg/person/year), national aquaculture production is therefore very small.
With regard to social and economic development, it must be said that despite the development projects implemented in the various regions of the country and the emergence in recent years of aquaculture companies, it is still not part and parcel of the habits of many Ivorians and in particular of the farmers, who still prefer to develop basic crops (cacao, coffee, palm oil).
At the present time, inland aquaculture is practised in the rural environment and therefore contributes to food security. It is considered to be a secondary activity which provides aquaculturalists with access to fish, as animal protein input for their diets or as a supplementary source of income.
Intensive aquaculture, on the other hand, is an industrial activity employing skilled technicians and labourers numbering between 3 and 10.
Thanks to the various aquaculture projects that have been implemented, new players have emerged in this industry. They have been motivated by the projects. They have mainly been developers, planners or builders, food traders and farm managers. The projects have invested in strengthening the capacities of these players, which has fostered the professionalization of this sector. In the long run, this should also enable aquaculture to become economically profitable, like any other farming activity.
At the present time only three women are practising aquaculture as an economically profitable activity, whereas they generally only support their husbands, who are the proprietors. Several women also take part in supervising the aquaculturalists.
The management of aquaculture falls within the remit of the Ministry of livestock Production and Fish Resources (MIPARH) through its Fish Production Directorate (DPH) and more specifically the Aquaculture Sub-Directorate (SDA).
The remit of the latter comprises:
Aquaculture does not have a specific statutory framework. There are, however, various laws governing other fields which also refers incidentally to aquaculture, such as:
Aquaculture development is based on the findings of the research conducted in research laboratories and aquaculture research/development stations whose programmes are generally chosen and defined in terms of development issues.
Non-governmental organisations and fish farmers notify the various MIPARH supervisory bodies of the constraints to which they are subject. In cooperation with the research institutions MIPARH lays down the research/development programmes to offset these problems. For the moment it is the government institutions that are financially supporting this research.
The research bodies working in aquaculture are:
Unlike the biotechnological aspects, the socio-economic aspects of aquaculture and the marketing of agricultural products have received very little attention so far (Koffi, 1992; 2000a; 2000b; Koffi et al., 1996) (Weigel, 1989). Likewise, because of the negligible impact of aquaculture on the national economy, very few market surveys have been conducted and target groups identified.
In the past, the UNDP-FAO project was the only one designed to develop freshwater aquaculture at the national level. Nile tilapia was the target species. Subsequently, the implementation of the lagoon aquaculture project made it possible to extend the rearing of bagrid catfish and blue tilapia and to begin rearing catfish. To date, O. niloticus makes up the bulk of inland aquaculture production while lagoon aquaculture production is dominated by O. aureus and O. niloticus. Since 1998, tilapia has accounted for 99 percent of the national aquaculture output despite the fact that sex inversion methods are not practised.
Bagrid catfish production slumped practically to zero between 1999 and 2003, following a development of algal bloom which decimated the populations being farmed in the lagoon area affected by it. It was not until 2004 that production of the species began to timidly take off again. At the same time catfish production (H. longifilis and H. isopterus) continued to stagnate at around 10 percent. Siluriformes have high production costs because of the difficulties encountered in breeding them and raising them in the larval stage in the breeding centres, in addition to the high cost of the necessary lagoon installations.
The main constraints on aquaculture production are the lack of adequate technical supervision in terms of quantity and quality, the lack of installation and operating credit, high initial investment costs and the poor organization of the sector which, among other things, hampers fish marketing.
Furthermore, the lack of any rigorous technical and financial management, uncertain cash flow, the lack of official recourse in the event of disputes, the chronic instability of managers and technical directors, and the poor availability and high cost of inputs (particularly of alevins) are now typical of commercial aquaculture enterprises.
Nevertheless, these constraints should be taken more into account by the new current policy. The government has redirected its aquaculture development strategy by putting in place a number of regional projects in order to better entrench this activity throughout the whole country. The production target for 2000-2010 is:
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