Concerted efforts to harness aquaculture resources

Africa’s excessive natural resources surely create wealth to its population, with the majority in the youth age bracket, if properly tapped.

One of the ways to achieve the goal of prosperity is creating an enabling environment for investors to put their capital for economic growth.

In this regard, Ethiopia has been encouraging foreign and local investors to tap the resources. It is reported that though Ethiopia has plenty of opportunities to offer to the world with vast natural resources, the country still moves at a snail’s pace towards utilizing the resources.

In the past, the government has taken encouraging steps to improve the business environment and ease doing business in Ethiopia. To boost the nation’s forex earning, various items including gold has been exported to various destinations. To scale up the venture, other mineral resources are being tapped and exported.

Not only the mining industry that hit the highest peak, but also coffee has scored a remarkable surge in the past. Recent reports showed that Ethiopian coffee has been supplied on one of the biggest online market, Alibaba.

Within seconds, more than 11 thousand kilos of Ethiopian coffee was supplied and sold in foreign market. Besides, the Ethiopian coffee attracts a number of markets from Far East like China and it becomes one of the countries with the highest coffee demand.

Ethiopia has also tremendous potential to secure revenue from the hotel and tourism industry. It is true that the country has many hotels and lodges with scenic views. Relatively speaking, Ethiopia has started to see awe-inspiring tourist destinations only over the past three years.

Exploiting natural resources and utilizing for the national economic growth needs the efforts of various stakeholders. The other sector which has a potential for ensuring food security and boosting the economy is fishery.

Ethiopia is dubbed as the water tower of Africa with many lakes and rivers, its marine resources are also vast.

A report prepared by Yalew, A. et al., 2015 says, “Ethiopia is a country in the horn of Africa endowed with numerous aquatic resources, including over 20 natural lakes, 12 large river basins, over 75 wetlands, and 15 reservoirs. Micro and macro-dam construction and river impoundment have created innumerable large and small water bodies. Both inland capture fisheries and aquaculture activities are concentrated around many lakes and rivers in the Rift Valley, as well as around the Blue Nile, which supplies water to the country’s largest water body, Lake Tana.”

Many reports identified that the government of Ethiopia selected strategic areas of interventions. From those strategies, aquaculture is one of them and expected to play its own role on ensuring food security and poverty reduction in the rural areas.

Reports have it that China is leading the list in the world of fish production, Egypt and Nigeria are the top two African countries in fish production.

According to the report, the estimated fish production is about more than 94 thousand tons per year. On the other hand, the actual production is a little higher than 38 thousand tons. As the country is rich in water resources, fish production and marketing is very low.

Speaking to The , Ministry of Agriculture Fishery Technology Senior Expert, Achamyelesh Duressa explained that currently fish production in the country has reached around 60 thousand tons per year. Fish is produced in various lakes, dams, and rivers. It is true that the aquaculture practice is at its early stage. Its supply is only for consumption, it cannot be supplied for commercial demands.

Regarding the government’s role in supporting the aquaculture, the senior expert stated that the government is eager to support the sector. For this reason, it has created different projects that help to promote the production.

At the extension level, Achamyelesh pointed that, the government has provided professionals and input support for private and other organizations that are investing in the sector.

According to the Expert, the country’s fish production has faced various problems that should be addressed.

The sector is highly dependent on natural resources so that there is a shortage of fishes in the lakes. People often use illegal fishing tools which negatively affects the production. In addition, most of the fishing is practiced illegally. Moreover, over fishing dwindles fish specious, added the Expert.

Countries have taken various measures in different ways to attract investors to put their money in various sectors. In order to make investors take part in aquaculture, Achamyelesh noted that the government has given the permission to a tax free importation of the necessary materials that help for fish production. This also incorporates importing raw materials and fodders.

It is the best chance for investors to participate in the sector, added the Expert.

In the coming years, the government plans to develop and promote different sectors to increase their products. The major ones are fish production and aquaculture sector. According to the Senior Expert, in the coming ten years, the government has planned to increase fish production in order to meet the local demand and answer the question of food security. Using the available water resources wisely, the government has intended to scale up fish production that stood at 60 thousand tons in 2013 E.C to 260 thousand tons by 2022 E.C. This means that there will be a 35.3 percent raise in average every year. Around 137 thousand tons of fish products will be obtained from dams, 0.96 thousand tons from small water bodies, 48 thousand tons from rivers. Moreover, the government strives to meet additional 13 thousand tons of aquaculture production in the year 2022.

Therefore, in order to meet the ten years government strategic plan and ensure food security, promoting fish production and aquaculture will be a better opportunity. Promoting the production from the daily and local demand to the nationwide supply will be one of the best ways to harness the untapped resources and support the nation economic growth. Ethiopia is a food insecure country and to ensure security, the government has been implementing various schemes and in this regard, the Ministry of Agriculture with the collaboration of stakeholders play pivotal role.

Small scale farmers through utilizing modern inputs try to enhance productivity. The expansion of farming lands also plays its own role in increasing crop production. But side by side with the crop production enhancing fishery in addition to ensuring food security it also enable to ensure nutrition security. There are many water bodies that are the source of marine life. People living in the nearby water bodies such as lakes and rivers exploit the resource in a very traditional and subsistence way. As the result they exploit very little amount of the resource.

As mentioned above the Ministry of Agriculture is providing technical support to small-scale fish farmers and private enterprises. The demand for fish, particularly in the urban centers, is growing from time to time but the underdeveloped value chain from fish farm to the consumers’ dining table affects the business. Therefore investing on the sector and encouraging stakeholders should be taken as a way out.



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