Stakeholders believe tilapia can play an important role in food sufficiency. But there are challenges

The global tilapia industry is booming. In 2018, the market volume reached 6.4 million tonnes. Looking forward, Tilapia Market: Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2019-2024 report published by the Research and Markets, a United States-based research firm, said the market was expected to hit 7.9 million tonnes by 2024.

According to the report, the industry has become the second most cultured species after crabs. In addition, the growing health consciousness among people and demand for protein-rich diet also drive the demand for tilapia since it contains vitamin B, iron, vitamin D, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids.

Moreover, the improvements in genetic technology, selective breeding and government initiatives to support aquaculture business are also stimulating the growth of the tilapia market.

A fishing publication,, estimates the yearly tilapia harvest at about six million metric tons, with a value in excess of USD9.8 billion (EUR 8 billion).

However, the global tilapia industry has expanded in the past few decades, changing from a small-scale rural concern feeding local populations, to one of the largest and most productive in the world.

The Vice-President, Tilapia Aquaculture Developers Association Nigeria (TADAN), Mr. Nurudeen Tiamiu, lamented that fish, the second-most significant farmed species in the world and one of aquaculture’s greatest success stories, is not getting attention in Nigeria.

Despite its recognition for providing a nutritious and inexpensive protein,Tiamiu said farmers were not getting the support to increase tilapia production significantly.

However, for this to be achieved, he maintained that production systems needed to be improved and greater emphasis placed on establishing best-practices.

According to him, the cost-effective way to support advancement of the sector is to provide a consistent supply of high-quality fish feed products, along with technical support to the industry. He called on the government to intervene with fish feed to enable them to meet increasing demand of tilapia fish of the local market.

Operators have emphasised the importance of the link between foreign exchange stability and stable prices of input, and expressed the hope that the economy will avoid the currency devaluations which caused prices of imported ingredients to appreciate. Imported ingredients are crucial to the work of feed input manufacturers and the efficiency of fish farm operations.

Tiamiu said the government should collaborate with stakeholders in the sector to fashion out a roadmap to develop farmed fish.

He noted that tilapia farming has emerged as a significant component of global fish supplies.

Tiamiu said the aquaculture sector had been besieged by people who were not known fish farmers, making and taking decisions on behalf of the real time producers.

A fisheries expert, Prof. Anetekhai Martin, said Nigeria needs infrastructure to take advantage of the global aquaculture tilapia set to hit $ 25 billion in 2029.

Martin noted that while there is a great demand for tilapia, many challenges exist. These included expensive transportation, lack of credit, limited display space and generally poor market infrastructure. He stressed that limited transportation infrastructure impedes greater production.

He pointed out that Nigeria is lagging behind in tilapia production as most cage farms, reservoirs, ponds grow tilapia mostly.

At a forum in Lagos, the National President, TADAN, Mr. Remi Ahmed noted, however, that cost of power and others are serious challenges, so this is not encouraging. Ahmed canvassed ban on imported tilapia to protect local aquaculture producers. He said the potential exists to increase tilapia production significantly. However, for this to be achieved the local production system needs to be improved and greater emphasis placed on establishing best-practices.

He noted that local farmers are struggling to cope with vast quantities of frozen tilapia imported from China. For him, this is not good news for the fragile industry, which is seeking to close the gap in the nation’s fish production. Like other stakeholders, illegal tilapia imports have become a matter of concern to him. To boost local capacity, the Lagos State Agro-Processing, Productivity, Engagement, and Livelihood Support (APPEALS) project has empowered farmers on tilapia production, using the Cage Culture Rearing Method; Control of Water Hyacinth and Production of Organic Fertiliser from Water Hyacinth.

The State Project Coordinator (SPC), Mrs. Oluranti Oviebo, said the cage culture is for naturally growing fish in open water but confined in a cage; noting that the earthen pond is the aquaculture, where there are pond and water seepage.

“It is not enough to say you are going into tilapia farming and then you go in search of any water body to start using. We took the samples of the water bodies and the soils so that it doesn’t look like a mere experiment. We have to be sure of the composition of these sites to ascertain their suitability to culture Tilapia,’’ she said.

The APPEALS, a fallout of the Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP) by the World Bank, is focused on three crops – Rice, Aquaculture and

Similarly, the African Union report expressed concerns that the growth of the aquaculture sector is being challenged by key input, notably feed, seed, human resources, appropriate technology and finance.

Meanwhile, there are efforts to attract more investors to the African tilapia aquaculture sector. Experts say Sub-Saharan Africa presents an opportunity for tilapia producers, processers and traders to boost their business.

According to the United Nations, the population of Sub-Saharan Africa is predicted to hit 2.1 billion by 2050. The population growth, according to them, is a major encouragement for market expansion for food, including seafood and other related commodities.

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