Rwanda’s fish production increases to 43,000 tonnes

Kigali, Rwanda | Michel Nkurunziza – NEW TIMES RWANDA|  Fish production in Rwanda slightly increased from 41,664 tonnes in 2021 to 43,560 tonnes in 2022, according to a report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.

It shows that 4,000 tonnes of fish was produced from fish farming.

Fishing activities are carried out in 17 lakes and four rivers in 15 districts.

Aquaculture production is done in three production systems such as earthen ponds on 324 hectares, floating cages comprising 59,390 cubic meters, and 41 dams with a total capacity of 31,360,000 cubic meters.

According to the report, 195 fish farmers were trained on rice fish integration, cage fish farming, Tilapia hatchery and Lake Guardians.

The main species are Limnothrissa miodon, known as Isambaza, Haprochromis sp, Nile Tilapia, Catfish, Protopterus aethiopicus, and Sprinus carpio.

Fishing activities are mainly undertaken through cooperatives.

However, the report indicates that in Rwanda, capture fishery is classified as artisanal or small-scale fisheries despite being an important socio-economic activity of Rwandan communities especially for the population neighboring the Lakes.

Fishermen are organized in 70 cooperatives with 3,827 members.

The government is also promoting fish farming in ponds in order to improve the productivity of abandoned fish ponds.

In 2020, graduates, from the University of Rwanda and Israel who acquired hands-on skills in the field of animal production, animal sciences, veterinary medicines, wildlife and aquaculture, secured a deal from the Ministry of Agriculture to help government increase national ponds’ fish production from 30 kg per 100 sqm to 200 kg per 100 sqm.

They had to introduce “Tilapia Nilotica” in 1,099 ponds across the country.

However, the country is still far from targets as it targets to produce 112,000 tonnes of fish every year by 2024, according to the fourth Strategic Plan for Agriculture Transformation (PSTA4).

Over 11, 00 illegal fishing nets reported

According to the report, lake surveillance was increased in order to control illegal fishers and guide fishing cooperatives to boost Rwandan captured fish production.

Various poachers and equipment were seized through regular surveillance and monitoring of fishing activities in collaboration with Police Marine, Army Marine, and the Cooperative Union.

The illegal fishing equipment include 6,790 illegal fishing nets known as Kaningini, 759 poaching boats, 3,937 supernets, 462 Ibikuruzo seine-nets, and 196 poachers reported to Police and Army Marine stations.

“Emerging global threats, such as biological invasions, climate change, land-use intensification, and water depletion are emerging global threats to the sustainable future of lakes and reservoirs,” shows the report.

In 2020/21, at least 1,109 Kaningini illegal fishing nets, 368 poaching boats, 169 super-nets and 142 poachers were reported to Police and Army Marine stations.

Over 30,000 illegal fishing nets and about 3,000 boats were confiscated in Lake Kivu over the past three years.

Fish farmers, dealers speak out

Olivier Iyamuremye, a sales agent from Hauge Aqua Rwanda, a firm that produces Tilapia through cages on Lake Kivu, said that they distribute fish in Rusizi district and Kigali city.

He said: “Consumption of fish in Rwanda is still low although fish production is also still low. There is a need for both increasing production and consumption habits.”

The company supplies one tonner every week in Kigali.

“If we increase production, consumption will also increase. For instance many people think of buying beef during the festive season instead of fish which is better for their health. Rwanda’s fish are even better than those imported,” he said.

Cynthia Umutesi, a cashier in Fine Fish Ltd – a wholesale fish company – in Kimironko market reiterated that fish consumption is still low in Rwanda.

“Some are still considering imported fish yet we have fresh fish they can prepare themselves. Most fish consumers are in urban areas compared to rural areas,” she said, saying they are selling at Rwf3, 700 per kilogramme.

According to Josiane Niyigena, the owner of PRIUS Fish shop located in Kabuga, increasing fish production could also help lower prices.

“If the prices per kilogramme of fish decreases to below that of meat, consumption could also increase. This should go along with teaching Rwandans on the health benefits of fish and how they can prepare it,” she said.

The current retail prices are between Rwf4,300 and Rwf5,000 depending on the areas, she said.

She said more investors should join the fishing industry and those in existence need support to increase production.

Tilapia fish and Sardine (Isambaza) are the dominant species on the market.

Producing 112,000 tonnes of fish every year by 2024 could help Rwanda attain the average sub-Sahara per capita consumption of 6.6 kilograms per person per annum, and 265,600 metric tons to reach the global average of 16.6 kilos.

Rwanda’s per capita fish consumption is presently at 2.3 kilograms per person per year.

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SOURCEE: New Times Rwanda

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