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
    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:
    • Improving productivity and competitiveness.
    • Striving to achieve food security.
    • Diversifying exports and sources of farm incomes. In this case, the fisheries sector was specifically tasked with the rational exploitation of all the fisheries potential and the optimum exploitation of the water bodies by developing maritime and lagoon fisheries and aquaculture (Mace, 2000; Anon., 2003a).
    For aquaculture is potentially a huge national asset and should be widely exploited because Côte d'Ivoire has considerable natural advantages in this area: 150 000 ha of lagoons, 350 000 ha of lakes and numerous wetlands that are suitable for fish farms, and with a wealth of aquatic fauna comprising a hundred families of fish of which several species are potentially viable for aquaculture purposes.
    History and general overview
    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:
    • Intensive: 1 to 1.5 tonnes of fish/ha/year.
    • Semi-intensive: 6 to 8 tonnes/ha/year, with the potential of 15 tonnes/ha/year.
    • Intensive, in ponds: over 20 tonnes/ha/year.
    • Farms in lagoon enclosures: 40 tonnes/ha/year.
    Human resources
    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.
    Farming systems distribution and characteristics
    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.
    Cultured species
    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.
    Practices/systems of culture
    The most significant experiences with aquaculture may be summarized as follows:
    • Intensive farming of bagrid catfish in lagoon enclosures.
    • Intensive farming of tilapias in lagoon floating cages.
    • Semi-intensive farming, moving towards intensive farming, in ponds in rural areas.
    • Extensive pond farming in the rural environment.
    The first two have been implemented in the peri-urban environment, firstly under the Lagoon Aquaculture Development Project with satisfactory results, such as the establishment of the fish farming environment and the production system, subsequently adopted by private aquaculturalists. These two systems are used by very few fish farmers, generally in lagoons, but they produce the bulk of the production in view of the high stocking densities.

    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.
    Sector performance
    Between 1991 and 2000 national aquaculture production (in tonnes) was as follows, for each rearing system.
    Rearing system 1991 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
    Semi-intensive - - - - - - -
    Tilapia 220 125 450 280 427 489 457
    Catfish - 25 350 50 210 80 3
    Bagrid catfish - - - - - - 5
    Subtotal 220 150 800 330 637 569 465
    Intensive - - - - - - -
    Tilapia 280 100 314 520 375 447 648
    Catfish - - 2 150 50 80 72
    Bagrid catfish 270 150 12 - - - 15
    Subtotal 550 250 328 670 425 527 735
    Total production 770 400 1 128 1 000 1 062 1 096 1 200
    (Source: Anon., 2000)

    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:

    Market and trade
    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:
    • On-farm live fish sales.
    • Sales in the towns of live fish in nurseries or chilled or frozen fish.
    Because of the strong competition between the products of artisanal fisheries and aquaculture, particularly with regard to tilapia, marketing strategies need to be analysed both in terms of selling price and supply.

    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).
    Contribution to the economy
    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.
    Promotion and management of the sector
    The institutional framework
    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:
    • Coordinating all the public and private actions to intensify and improve the quality of aquaculture products.
    • Participating in the regulation of aquaculture and monitoring implementation.
    • Promoting the sustainable management of aquaculture resources.
    • Organizing and monitoring the management of aquaculture resources.
    • Taking part in designing aquaculture development programmes.
    • Organizing the implementation of these development programmes.
    • Promoting and overseeing aquaculture activities.
    • Participating in the promotion, regulation and oversight of aquaculture product processing.
    • Ensuring the conservation of the zoo-genetic resources.
    • Overseeing zoo-genetic resources in relation to imports and exports.
    • Protecting the biology and ecology of aquaculture species.
    • Ensuring the regular supply of aquaculture products to the markets.
    • Identifying research themes and working in conjunction with scientific research.
    • Promoting infrastructure for the marketing and processing of aquaculture products.
    In order to support MIPARH, the Ministry of Scientific Research and the Ministry of the Environment, respectively, are responsible for the biological monitoring and the exploitation of fish resources through research centres, and for environmental aspects while aquaculture development projects are being imlemented.
    The governing regulations
    Aquaculture does not have a specific statutory framework. There are, however, various laws governing other fields which also refers incidentally to aquaculture, such as:
    • Act No. 96-766 of 3 October (The Environment Code).
    • The Rural Land Tenure Code.
    • Act No. 98 (The Water Code).
    • Decree No.2003 of 3 July 2003 (organization of MIPARH).
    • Act No. 93-312 of 1993 (setting the conditions for exercising professions having regard to the marketing of livestock or livestock-derived products).
    The Ministry of Livestock Production and Fish Resources is responsible for ensuring compliance with the rules governing aquaculture.
    Applied research, education and training
    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:
    • The Oceanological Research Centre (CRO).
    • The National Agricultural Research Centre (CNRA).
    • The universities.
    • A non-governmental organisation called “Association pisciculture et développement rural en Afrique tropicale humide-Côte d'Ivoire (APDRA-CI)”.
    Participatory research conducted on government stations and fish farms is generally undertaken by national projects, in conjunction with the research institutions. Some of the latter, like the schools providing aquaculture training, run teaching courses and even award diplomas, as the following table shows.
    Aquaculture research institutions Diplomas awarded
    National Agricultural Research Centre None
    Oceanological Research Centre None
    University of Abobo-Adjamé DUT, Master’s degree and DEA in aquaculture
    University of Cocody Master’s degree and DEA in hydrobiology
    Institut national polytechnique Félix Houphouêt Boigny (Yamoussoukro) Agricultural Technologies and Agricultural Engineering degrees

    Aquaculture training schools Diplmas awarded
    Ecole de specialization en pisciculture et pêche continentale (Tiébissou) BT and BTS Aquaculture
    Centre des métiers de pêche de Grand-Lahou BTS Aquaculture
    Ecole d'agriculture d'Adzopé BTS Aquaculture

    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.
    Trends, issues and development
    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:
    • National production of 10 000 tonnes of tilapia, bagrid catfish and associated species over 2 000 ha (500 ha of industrial/artisanal ponds and 1 500 ha of household fish farms) worth 5 billion CFA francs for the tilapia alone.
    • Partial production of 3 000 tonnes of bagrid catfish over 100 ha worth 2.7 billion CFA francs.
    • 6 000 tonnes of shrimps worth 15 billion CFA francs.
    Anonyme. 1995. Eléphant d'Afrique: objectifs et stratégies de développement de la Côte d'Ivoire. Tome 1. Abidjan, Cabinet du Premier ministre. 242 pp.
    Anonyme. 1997. Projet d'appui au secteur aquaculture et pêche. Abidjan, Direction des pêches et de l'aquaculture, Ministère de l'agriculture et des ressources animales. 80 pp.
    Anonyme. 2000. Annuaire des statistiques de l'aquaculture et des pêches. Abidjan, Direction des productions halieutiques, Ministère de l'agriculture et des ressources animales. 155 pp.
    Anonyme. 2001. Bilan diagnostique et stratégie de relance du secteur des productions halieutiques en Côte d'Ivoire. Abidjan, Direction des productions halieutiques, Ministère de l'agriculture et des ressources animales. 28 pp.
    Anonyme. 2002. Annuaire des statistiques de l'aquaculture et des pêches. Abidjan, Direction des productions halieutiques, Ministère de l'agriculture et des ressources animales.
    Anonyme. 2003 a. Bilan diagnostique et prospectives pour la relance du secteur pêche et aquaculture en Côte d'Ivoire, période de 1990 à 2000. Rapport provisoire, Abidjan, Bureau national d'études techniques et de développement.
    Anonyme. 2003 b. Pêche en Côte d'Ivoire. Etude d'Alexis Chaumat, 2000.
    Hem, S.1982. L'aquaculture en enclos: adaptation au milieu lagunaire ivoirien. Aquaculture, (27): 261-272.
    Koffi, C. 1992. Aspects économiques de la production piscicole en étang: l'expérience de la pisciculture rurale au Centre-Ouest et au Centre de la Côte d'Ivoire, pp. 49-63. In: Bernacsek, G.M. et Powles, H. (éds). Recherche sur les systèmes aquacoles en Afrique. Atelier du 14 au 17 novembre 1988, Bouaké, Côte d'Ivoire. Publ. IDRC-MR308, Ottawa, Canada.
    Koffi, C. 2000 a. Aspects économiques de l'exploitation des ressources halieutiques des petits barrages du nord de la Côte d'Ivoire. Agronomie Africaine, (XII): 33-49.
    Koffi, C. 2000 b. Perspectives de débouchés pour le poisson de pisciculture (Oreochromis niloticus) au centre-ouest de la Côte d'Ivoire. Agronomie Africaine, (XII): 81-90.
    Koffi, C.Oswald, M. et Lazard, J. 1996 . Développement rural de la pisciculture en Afrique: comment passer du mythe à la réalité, pp 556-566. In Pullin, R.S.V. et al. (éds). Le troisième symposium international sur le tilapia en aquaculture. ICLARM Conf. Proc. (41).
    Mace, Ph.2000. Exporter en Côte d'Ivoire. Tome 1: Etat et structure de la population. Vingt et unième conférence régionale pour l'Afrique, Yaoundé (Cameroun), 21-25 février 2000. Volume IV: Analyses des résultats. Ed. CFCE. 244 pp.
    Weigel, J.Y. 1989. La commercialisation du poisson en pays lagunaire ivoirien. Paris, Ed. ORSTOM, Etudes et Thèses. 138 pp.
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