Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page



Barbara Bentz
Project Pisciculture Guinée Forestière
AFVP, BP 570, Conakry, Guinée

Bentz, B. 2006. Aquaculture associations - rural development in tropical humid Africa. In M. Halwart & A.A. van Dam, eds. Integrated irrigation and aquaculture in West Africa: concepts, practices and potential, pp. 125–128. Rome, FAO. 181 pp.


The Central Western Fish Culture Project (Projet piscicole Centre Ouest, or PPCO, in French) was developed between 1992 and 1995, and implemented in 20 villages in Côte d'Ivoire in 1996. In 2001, a network of more than 420 fish farmers produced 170 tonnes of fish per year, from 160 ha of water. The project was assisted by two NGOs, APDRA-CI and APDRA-F (Association pisciculture et développement rural en Afrique tropicale humide-Côte d’Ivoire and France). The project was based on an extensive technology with fish yields between 0.5 and 2 tonnes/ha/yr, combined with extension and training through farmer field schools and participatory research and monitoring. The PPCO was extended to other parts of Côte d'Ivoire and other aquaculture projects were initiated in the forest region of Guinea and in Cameroon. The aquaculture development approach provides opportunities for integration with agricultural activities and produces synergies in terms of water and labour utilization.

Introduction: brief history of the creation of APDRA

In sub-Saharan Africa in the early 1990s, daily household consumption of animal protein continued to decrease, and was primarily composed of marine fish which was expensive and overexploited. Faced with such a situation, farmers appeared very motivated by aquaculture programmes which allowed them to decrease one of their principal food costs and to diversify their activities. In Côte d’Ivoire, as in numerous other countries, aquaculture development among farmers in rural areas was constrained by poorly performing technical models. In 1992, the Central Western Fish Farming Project (in French Projet piscicole Centre Ouest or PPCO) was launched (with funding from the French Cooperation and CCFD, Catholic Committee against Hunger and for Development, or Comité Catholique contre la Faim et pour le Développement, a French NGO), with the following objectives:

The latter was developed between 1992 and 1995, and implemented in twenty or so Ivorian villages from 1996. In 2001, a network of more than 420 fish farmers produced 170 tonnes of fish per year from 160 ha of ponds. During the implementation of PPCO, two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were created to assist rural fish farming development, including:

The “rural development fish-farming model”

Technical model

To address input and supply problems (lack of fingerlings, fish feed, etc.) which often limit intensive fish farming, APDRA based their programme on farms located in valley bottoms or low-lying areas (bas-fonds)which are seasonally flooded. They developed an extensive, profitable model, where fish production satisfied consumer needs. They promoted completely drainable barrage ponds that were supported by service ponds. With an average surface area of 0.3 ha, these barrage ponds permitted harvests ranging from 0.5 to more than 2 tonnes/ha/yr, depending on water management and fertilization.

The culture system was based on the polyculture of tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and Heterotis niloticus. In addition, many wild catfish existed in many bas-fonds, mostly Clarias anguillaris and Heterobranchus isopterus. In Côte d‘Ivoire, Chinese carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) was sometimes also cultured. Population densities were adjusted depending on the fertility of the area, and a carnivorous fish (generally Hemichromis fasciatus) was added to regulate tilapia populations which are quite prolific.

Social dimensions of the programme

All of the fish farmers benefited from extension, training and site-specific advice. Neither investment nor production costs were subsidized. However, farmers were given the opportunity to be trained in fish farming. Such approach ensured the sustainability of production by creating an environment conducive to exchanges of fish, by facilitating access to specialty services, etc. Within a range of 1–2 kilometers, fish farmers had to commit themselves and to succeed to develop a sustainable professional local environment that permitted them to practice economically viable fish farming and to overcome its main constraints.

Monitoring and orientation of actions


Farmers were given choices in the selection of production techniques and inputs. Evaluation was therefore based on a farming systems approach (an assessment of agricultural dynamics and a socio-economic comparison of production units), and on innovative anthropology tools (taking into consideration the interests of stakeholders in the intervention, the networks in which fish farmers operate, and the processes of transmission-adaptation of knowledge). Evaluation was also based on the historical reactions of fish farmers vis-a-vis the actions proposed.

Development research

Whenever a new constraint was identified, all scientific means available to the operator or to his or her partners were a priori useful to develop solutions. The selection of identified practices to mitigate constraints was left to the fish farmers: they participated in dimensioning the experiments and in the full-scale tests, before choosing the techniques that were to be adopted by the operators.

Main activities for the rural development of fish farming

The reference point for activities in tropical humid Africa remains the development dynamic initiated in the central western region of Côte d’Ivoire, which is still monitored by APDRA-CI and supported by APDRA-F, despite the end of the main sources of financing (suspension of the PPCO follow-up as a result of the political troubles in Côte d'Ivoire). A new 3-year agreement for support to the organization and professional training is being developed with CCFD and MAE (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or Ministère des Affaires Etrangères).

Other interventions in Côte d'Ivoire

Figure 1

Figure 1. Structure and mode of operation of APDRA.

Fish farming project in the forest region of Guinea

APDRA-F, in partnership with AFVP, has implemented the Fish Farming Project in the Forest Region of Guinea (le Projet piscicole de Guinée Forestière; PPGF). Since 1999, in a region that has had practically no fish farming interventions, PPGF has been able to show that the establishment of rural fish farming using the proposed model was possible and sustainable. The dynamics of the programme are still new, but their importance indicates a great potential for their development and a great innovation capacity of the farmers for such a complex activity.

Increasing target zones and coverage

IIA initiated in the APDRA network

Unlike other models, the type of fish farming proposed by APDRA-F constitutes an important reorientation of the production system, and sets in motion a process of innovation which involves substantive modifications to production systems. Barrage ponds facilitate increased water management, which permits farmers to transform their current production systems in valley bottoms and to develop, through integration with the production of fish, other activities such as rice culture, gardening or animal husbandry.

Thus, in Côte d'Ivoire, the fact that numerous valley bottoms normally dry up during half of the year transforms barrage ponds into water storage devices, which makes them a capital resource for agricultural activities. The recent availability of this new production factor allows the development, throughout the year, of diversified activities which were unimaginable without them.

In the Forest Region of Guinea, the cultural calendar in valley bottoms is not changed and remains dependent upon the rainy season. On the other hand, the practice of irrigated rice culture in the barrage ponds frees up a considerable amount of time for the fish farmer (no clearing, no deep ploughing, no weeding) which can be reinvested in other activities. Such activities thus benefit from water availability, from spatial complementarity and from the geographic proximity of the various types of production. While developed voluntarily by fish farmers, without incentives from operators, these types of IIA are the object of close monitoring (yield and output studies, technical studies, research for new varieties adapted to IIA conditions, etc.) designed to support fish farmers in their progress.

APDRA-F: Institutional description

APDRA-F is an association of international solidarity which intervenes at the following levels:

Partnership agreements exist with AFVP, CCFD and other French or European organizations (Water Agency, MAE, FLAC de Lorraine, schools, etc.).The principal financial partners are AFD, CCFD, MAE, the Water Agency (Agence de l’Eau), Regions of France (Ile de France, Lorraine, Région Centre), some private companies, etc. The budget in 2003 was approximately 350°000 euros.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page