Increasing food production through aquaculture
On Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016 was held at Burundi Investment Promotion Authority, API, a presentation on the pitfalls and opportunities in the aquaculture sub-sector. Taking advantage of his first visit ever to Africa, API invited Professor GULBRANDSEN from Norway to chair an afternoon discussion exploring on investing in fish farming business. What is the state of play? According to UN reports, agriculture production is likely to decline on account of climate changes, phosphate shortage, aquifer depletion and biofuel production. The World Bank says that the world needs to produce at least 50% more food to feed 9 billion people by 2050 but climate change could cut crop yields by more than 25%. Moreover, some facts are seriously disturbing as the world population increases with more than 200 000 people per day while more than one billion people are undernourished or malnourished, 25 000 people die of hunger related causes, per day. Renewable resources are being depleted faster than they are replenished. Deforestation increases, mainly in the tropics. Between 1990 and 2005, Burundi lost 47.4% of its forest cover. In 2015, the Burundi bureau of statistics estimated to 71.1% the poverty rate and it should be reminded that agriculture sector is the source of livelihood for the majority of the population in Burundi. The land, biodiversity, oceans, forests, and other forms of natural capital are being depleted at unprecedented rates. The Burundi Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock supported by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, reports that the level of food security has deteriorated every year since 1994, with regard to the level of availability, access, utilisation and stability. Unless we change how we grow our food and manage our natural capital, food security will be at risk, especially for the World’s poorest.
Professor GULBRANDSEN during the presentation.
It is noted that fishery have been contributing a great amount to food security in Burundi. In fact, Lake Tanganyika contains a big number of fish including two main fish species, Solotrissa Tanganikae and Liciolates Sappersii, that are subject to a high commercial traffic throughout the country. However, given the potential fishery declining coupled to mosquito-net fishing that threatens fishing in Lake Tanganyika new fish production methods need to be used.
Using lessons learned in Norway, statistics reveal that despite its population of 5.1 million, this Scandinavian country is one of most fish producers in the World. In 2015 alone, it has produced 1.3 million tones of salmon. Aquaculture of fishes takes mainly place in freshwater that counts for about 1% of the world’s water surface while the marine environment constitutes about 70% of the world’s surface. Fresh water represents 4% of all water on earth and only lakes and rivers count for 0.0067 %, the rest of fresh water being located underground.
In the quest of increasing food security in Burundi, the afternoon debate at API aimed at learning on Norwegian experience in fish farming through aquaculture using modern techniques. The 2014 world aquaculture production in Freshwater fish counted for 40 490 302 tons with a meager share of Burundi production amounting 1700 tons only, as reported by the Director in charge of aquaculture departement at the Burundi Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. He further admitted that unless new techniques are used and investment funds secured, the aquaculture in Burundi will remain way too costly to be effectively implemented. Today’s methods of fish capture have to be replaced by intensive farming methods because this is the only way to increase aquaculture production and enhance fisheries through restocking.
Businessman Don-Trésor IRANTIJE is one of the Burundi pioneers advocating and committed to investing in aquaculture: “In the framework of coping with the huge challenge of lack of fish in Burundi, we are committed to develop advanced fish production project in large cages based aquaculture industry on Lake Tanganyika. I have been impressed by the magnificence of such installations and facilities when I visited the Aquaculture Industry in Trondheim, Norway. The aquaculture in cages is a new business in Burundi. Our core goal is the production of 30 000 tons of fish - Tilapia and catfish - per year. We need then installations that respond to this ultimate challenge”.
Supported by modern techniques aquaculture is an ideal way to raise Burundi national income and economy. Talking about Norway, Professor GULBRANDSEN referred to the Atlantic Halibut and Northern Bluefin Tuna species which coexist on the Norwegian coast and which could respectively raise the income up to US$ 1,800.00 and US$ 15,000.00 per piece. Therefore, it is crucial to improve aquaculture through introducing intensive fish cultivation methods and the use the food chain creativity. The Government should look at optimizing synergies between politics, science and business through sensitization. Discussion with Prof GULBRANDSEN also consisted in exploring ways of further collaboration through promoting the Lake Tanganyika aquaculture opportunities to Norwegian marine and fishing corporations.
Note: Professor Jon GULBRANDSEN holds a Bsc in science, a Msc in freshwater biology and a PhD in marine biology/aquaculture. He worked as associate Professor & researcher with NOFIMA in Norway, NOAA from USA Government and is the author of the article ”Solving the food crisis – On an ocean planet”.
Group Photo after the presentation.