Ethiopia: Bolstering Aquaculture

young people fishing

Ethiopia has abundant water sources which could be a hub for fish farming. Lakes, ponds, rivers can be mentioned and in addition to these, the emerging artificial lakes following the construction of hydro power dams steps up the nation's aquaculture potential.

But, because of inadequate study regarding the wealth, it is not utilized at the required level. According to the official report, the nation's fish wealth is estimated to be more than 94 thousand ton. Yet only about 50 thousand ton is utilized annually.

Fishing is an age old practice. However, it still is not far from traditional hunting. In the one hand, because of the absence of rules and regulation the over fishing practice, including the trapping of the juvenile ones, poses the dwindling of fish resources.

The uneconomical practice of fishing and the absence of viable market network forces the huge amount of fish collected lays waste. Fish production by its nature should be practised in a hygienic manner and requires refrigerators and vehicles having this facility to keep the products fresh.

Disregarding this, upgrading the status of the sector is unthinkable. On the other hand, the underdevelopment of fish consumption habit in the remote parts of the country has resulted in the stagnation of the sector. Hence, to reverse the situation, the ongoing efforts to bring attitudinal change should continue.

For sustainable development of fish farming, the preservation of water resource and the ecosystem is essential. However, like the other sectors, it is threatened by climate change and global warming. The high evaporation and the withdrawal of water from lakes for agricultural purposes are also affecting the existence of marine life.

These and other factors force people engaged in fish farming to resort to the other ways of farming that is to say, practising aquaculture through establishing artificial lakes. Currently, the world fish production from aquaculture has become almost equal to the production from ocean, sea and lakes. And such practice helps to protect water resources from damaging imposed by human activities.

By now the world annual fish production has increased by 14 per cent while crop production by 3.1 per cent. The study proved one hectare land cultivated by aquaculture brings more benefit than one hectare land cultivated for crop production. In addition, the high protein content of fish further makes the earlier more preferable.

Aquaculture, as modern type of fishery, encourages the involvement of professionals and businessmen. It as well has a capacity to create value chain and job creation for thousands. This modern fishery can be practised by youth, old, women and by people living with disability.

Thus, we can understand from this that for attaining food security, creating job and stimulating the economy, in the world or in our country, aquaculture can be taken as a way out. Cognizant of the sector's significance and to coordinate stakeholders effort, the government has planned the fish resource development strategy. Relevant institutions are established and rules and regulations are formulated.

The second GTP emphasizes that, farmers and investors who have interest to involve in aquaculture will be provide various types of support including the establishment of incubators in several agro-ecology zones and extension service provision. And it intends to rise the contribution of the sector for the nation's Growth Domestic Production to 15 per cent at the end of the planned year.

The recent establishment of the Ethiopian Aquaculture Association is expected to play an immense role in this regard. It could also serve as a bridge to bring together fish professionals and investors. Professionals, who have a profound knowledge of marine life can elevate the sector to the higher level which comprise the production of fish feed-stock in scientific method and other marine lives.

The traditional way of farming confined only on fish production will be changed and the advice that comes from professionals make investors to think the ultimate goal of their business rather than the short term benefit. The stranded rural labour also could be absorbed in such business scheme. The availability of better climate, ecosystem in the country helps for the expansion of aquaculture. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization study, there is 8.5 million hectare land conducive for that.

Thus, to utilize the abundant resources at maximum level, tapping the created opportunities and alleviating both technical and non technical problems are vital. Scarcity of better quality specious of fish, food stocks and hygienic facility, aquaculture technology and others can be categorized as technical problems.

On the other hand, the absence of functioning structures to uplift the sector,extension services, market and credit facilities can be categorized as non technical problems. Hence, to address the problems stake holders both from government and private sector should join their efforts.

In sum, the expansion of aquaculture in addition to helping the exploitation of fish resource, it can support the flourishment of the manufacturing sector by providing inputs so that to accelerate job creation for thousands.

Photo credit: Finn Thilsted, WorldFish
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