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Côte d’Ivoire moves towards self-sufficiency in tilapia production

Tilapia sector endorses FISH4ACP strategy for a more sustainable and productive value chain

11 April 2022, Abidjan – Representatives from across the tilapia sector in Côte d’Ivoire today endorsed an ambitious plan to bring farmed tilapia production to 68 000 tonnes by 2031. It would enable the West African nation to meet domestic demand for the fish, while creating jobs and business opportunities without adding pressure on the environment. 

“We have made an important step forward today towards self-sufficiency in providing healthy food to our people,” said Marcel Kagnomou, Technical advisor of the Ministry of Animal and Fishery Resources, at a ceremony where stakeholders of the tilapia sector endorsed a strategy to make tilapia production in Côte d’Ivoire more productive and sustainable. He added: “In strengthening the tilapia sector, we will also bring economic opportunities and social benefits to the population without compromising the environment.” 

A broad alliance of national stakeholders rallied behind a call for a more structured, resilient and sustainable value chain that would enable Côte d’Ivoire to meet domestic demand for tilapia by bringing annual production to 68 000 tonnes in 2031 - a giant leap that equals a nine-fold increase from the current production level, estimated between 6 000 and 8 300 tonnes. 

“We truly welcome the spirit of collaboration that has brought the sector together behind this strategy,” said Benjamin Laag, Head of Cooperation, German Embassy in Côte d’Ivoire. He added: “At the same time, its ambition of increased self-reliance in food production, stimulating growth while improving social and environmental sustainability, is very much in line with the sustainable development agenda that we support.”

“This strategy is the outcome of an inclusive and exhaustive effort in support of the aquaculture sector, an under-exploited driver of growth, said Stéphane Brossard of the European Union’s Delegation in Côte d’Ivoire. “The proposed overhaul of the tilapia sector implies a financial challenge for which an estimated USD 60 million will need to be mobilised over the next ten years.”

The strategy was developed by all stakeholders from the tilapia sector and facilitated by FISH4ACP, a global value chain development initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the European Union (EU).

“FISH4ACP is proud to be part of this blue transformation that will bolster food security in Côte d’Ivoire and provide benefits for the small scale fisherfolk, who produce the bulk of tilapia,” said Gilles van de Walle, FISH4ACP’s Chief Technical Advisor.  

He recalled that the groundwork for the strategy was laid by FISH4ACP’s value chain analysis of last year that found huge potential for increased domestic production and identified the major obstacles to sustainable growth.  

Making more affordable and quality feed and fingerlings available is one such challenge, Gilles van de Walle explained, adding that 3 000 new fish farms are needed to make the business environment fit for purpose, as well as upgrading the business model of 1 000 existing farms.  

The aim of obtaining growth without adding pressure to the environment can be tackled by using digital tracking to reinforce compliance with environmental regulations, he said, while improvements to the cold chain and marketing schemes, including certification, will be used to add value for home grown tilapia.  

Van de Walle concluded that FISH4ACP will be leading the implementation of the strategy until its completion in 2025. Then, it will be in the hands of the value chain stakeholders to carry on the development of the sector.