Building bridges with Asia can benefit African aquaculture

African aquaculture can benefit from improving relationships with Asia, the hub of global aquaculture. The continent also has lots to gain through training, technology and education.

“More bridges are needed for better collaboration between the continents, since a lot of African countries face challenges like feed and fish seed technology,” said Dr Ram Bhujel, Research Associate Professor and Director of the Aqua-Centre at the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand, during the recent World Aquaculture Conference held in Cape Town.

According to Bhujel, the Asian continent is the world leader in aquaculture. 11 out of the top 15 producing countries are in Asia, while Africa mostly sustains its fish appetite with imports and fishing from fast dwindling wild populations.

He believes Asia has a lot to share with Africa in terms of seed production, technology, equipment supplies, feed, training and projects.

During his presentation, he used the example of tilapia hatchery technology which was developed and commercialised by the Aqua-Centre at the AIT. It is responsible for some remarkable changes in the tilapia hatchery industry in Thailand.

The technology is fairly simple and only needs basic infrastructure like pumps and PVC pipes. They can produce 20 to 30 million mono-sex fry in a month and the hatchery can be adjusted according to scale.

Bhujel said the centre supplies training. Farmers from Bangladesh, for example, come for training and can then start their own hatcheries.

He said compared to the rest of the world however, there are very few trainees from Africa. They are missing out on opportunities to receive valuable training.

Bhujel also said African countries should consider taking on more building projects in collaboration with Asian countries, which have knowledge, skills and resources. He says most countries only collaborate with European countries.

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