Perspectives on the Latest African Aquaculture Statistics
By Aquaculture Innovations
Global aquaculture production is soaring with more seafood farmed each year since 2013 than is harvested from the wild (Figure 1). In 2018 the aquaculture industry produced in excess of 114 million tons of aquaculture products globally, valued at more than $263bn! A massive industry indeed.
Figure 1: Global fisheries vs aquaculture production 1990 to 2018
Within Africa, the industry is growing impressively as well but is on a much smaller scale as shown by the 2018 figures broken down to the main countries (Figure 2). In 2018 African countries produced a total of 2.2 million tons of aquaculture products or around 2% of the world total. Egypt is by far the primary producer, having contributed 1.56 million tons that year. Nigeria is fairly substantial, Uganda and Zanzibar are next with Ghana, and the rest of the continent brings up the rear.
Figure 2: Aquaculture production by main African countries in 2018
When we consider the primary species groups that are produced only three are farmed in significant numbers, these being tilapia, catfish and carp. Of these Nile tilapia represents more than 99% of the tilapias and sharp tooth catfish dominates the catfish grouping, so these are the primary two species farmed in Africa.
Figure 3: Main species groups produced in Africa in 2018
If we consider who the main tilapia producers are it is clear that Egypt is again the main player (Figure 4) producing 81% of the tilapia farmed in Africa. The next two main producing countries are Uganda and Ghana, each contributing around 5% of the continent’s total for 2018.
Figure 4: Tilapia production in 2018 by an African country
Table 1: Tonnage of tilapia produced in 2018 by the main African producing countries and prices in each country
The average price of tilapia is relatively low, most especially in Egypt (I believe that the price for Ghana is an error) and this reduces the apparent average per country, which generally sits around $3/kg in Africa. Tilapia is an easy to breed and easy to rear fish, that does well in ponds and feeds low on the food chain, and as such is well suited to mass production on the continent.
Catfish has a reputation for being exceptionally hardy and easy to farm, but the reality is that the hatchery component requires specialised skills. Although this species is very well suited to production across most of the continent, only once the hatchery skills are widely available will the species compete with tilapia in terms of production volumes.
Nigeria is the continents’ largest catfish producer at 160 114 tons in 2018 valued at $512m, followed by Uganda as the only other significant producer (Figure 5 and Table 2).
Figure 5: Catfish production in 2018 by country
Table 2: Tonnage of catfish produced in 2018 by the main African producing countries
The average price of catfish is around $2.8/kg with the West African countries generally paying a higher price for catfish than tilapia.
Fish farming is big business in Africa, but as the continent is expected to show the most rapid population growth in the world over the next 2 decades, the industry will have to increase substantially to keep pace with the growing demand.
*** all statistics were obtained from the FAO Aquaculture Database ***
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