African Chapter President's Column - June 2021
The FAO has just released its annual aquaculture statistics overview. From the analysis, we can see a 2 percent year-on-year increase in aquaculture production for Africa, i.e., from 2.35 million metric tons (MMT) in 2018 to 2.40 MMT in 2019, with farm gate value of some US$4.7 billion. We should bear in mind that total aquaculture production volume for Africa is now nearly double what we produced a decade ago, around 1.42 MMT in 2010.
By far, Egypt remains the powerhouse of aquaculture production in Africa, having produced a record 1.64 MMT in 2019 or just over 68 percent of the continent’s total production for the year, according to the latest FAO figures. This is followed by Nigeria (289,000 MT or 12 percent share), Uganda (103,000 MT or 4 percent share) and Zanzibar (102,000 MT or again, about 4 percent share). The rest of Africa share the remaining 12 percent.
Tilapia remains the backbone of aquaculture production in terms of volume and value. The continent produced a record 1.35 MMT of tilapias. Nile tilapia accounts for 96 percent of all tilapias farmed in Africa, the bulk of it from Egypt. The total value of tilapia aquaculture has more than doubled, now standing at some US$2.37 billion, as compared to US$1.04 billion recorded a decade ago. Other species with high production volumes in 2019 include African catfish (247,000 MT), carps (173,000 MT) and aquatic plants (115,000 MT).
Such basic but progressive trends should be inspiring to the aquaculture community in Africa. I applaud industry players and the support of the community at large for playing various roles to get to where we are today. However, much more needs to be done to ensure such a growth trajectory remains firm and that the sector remains strong and resilient, especially in the face of emerging challenges such as pandemics, climate change and aquatic diseases. The sector also needs to address other persistent value chain challenges, including governance, investments and the cost of doing business in aquaculture. The African Chapter, within its societal mandate will strive to continue working with industry players, researchers, development partners, government actors and others in creating strategic platforms that deliver technical knowledge to support the continent’s quest for sustainable aquaculture development.
Our very first Hybrid Conference on Aquaculture in West Africa took place on 14-16 May 2021 in Ghana. I am overly thankful to our members, partners and collaborators in West Africa for successfully hosting such an event, which was well-attended virtually by over 500 participants from West Africa and globally, with hundreds more continuing to access the e-conference’s recordings. For this, I am thankful to the African Chapter Regional Director for West Africa, Mr. Lanre Badmus from Nigeria, for taking the lead and working hard in organizing the event, working together with our key strategic partner in the region, the Ghana Chamber of Aquaculture. You can access the conference recordings at https://wasacwar.com/may-2021- hybrid-conference-sessions-and-events/.
Next will be another Hybrid Conference on Aquaculture in East Africa, organized by our Regional Director for East Africa, from 27-29 August 2021. A call for registrations and submission of abstracts is now live on the conference website (www.aquaeaconf.org). Be sure that you don’t miss this virtual event.
Behind the scenes, we will continue convening free-access webinars, including through our media and publicity partner, Aquaculture Africa Magazine (AAM). A series of technical webinars are already lined up for upcoming months for various aquaculture topics of interest, including focus sessions on African institutions delivering aquaculture or related programs, Aquaculture country profile webinar sessions for select Africa countries will be coming up in the next few weeks (Ethiopia, Seychelles and others). Special and custom technical training courses (e.g., on fish feed, water quality, etc.) continue to be delivered through these virtual arrangements to wider audiences. Make sure you don’t miss these.
In addition, together with our Founding Gold Sponsor, Aller Aqua, we will be organizing special regional webinars on select topics of interest starting this year. All these virtual meetings are precursors to the Aquaculture Africa Conference in Egypt.
We are delighted to hear that most WAS global events are slowly becoming in-person events again, following improvements in the COVID-19 situation, including vaccination programs. We also are gearing up to have AFRAQ21 as a physical event in December 2021. We will soon be issuing update information through regular press releases. I urge you to register and submit abstracts. You will find regular updates on the conference webpage https://www.was.org/meeting/code/AFRAQ20.
Together with our media and publicity partner (AAM), we intend to release a newsletter covering this in June, which will be a package of exciting stories and events happening across the continent. We call upon aquaculture stakeholders in Africa to submit content and good articles for the newsletter, such as interesting case studies, stories, pictures and weblinks to research papers. We are now open for these.
Lastly, let me once again wish you all and your families’ safety and good health as we keep weathering through the COVID-19 storm. Let me urge all African Chapter members and partners to get vaccinated, as this is the right thing to do and the only way we can get back to our physical business of things, including safely meeting each other at many of our conferences and events. Make sure you pass the message around!
— Sherif Sadek, President