Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) has begun research aimed at finding ways to improve fish species found in the country.
The institution is also carrying out research on what kind of feed ensures faster maturity of fish, Dr Wilson Rutaganira, the RAB aquaculture and fisheries programme coordinator, told Saturday Times.
“We are assessing our water and fish food, an activity known as ‘characterisation of water’, in order to know what types of fish can thrive here and become highly productive,” he said.
“Concerning aquaculture (fish rearing) research, we are developing fish species that can mature faster. In 2011, we brought Tilapia species from Lake Albert (in Uganda) and by using selective breeding, we have been able to produce the species in our waters. Currently, we have a big challenge of producing enough fish feed to satisfy the fish stock. That is why we are also doing research on how we can produce good quality fish food.”
Rutaganira said the results of the research would be published by June next year.
The researchers also want to find out the type of fish species that are able to thrive in the different climatic conditions in the country.
“We are doing this in the Eastern and Northern provinces. This is because, while the Northern Province is very cold, Eastern Province isn’t. We want to see what fish species thrives where.”
A case in point that shows the necessity of such research is Karago Lake in Nyabihu District, Western Province.
Tilapia fish was introduced in the lake in 2013 but, according to Nyabihu vice-mayor in charge economics and finance, Angele Mukaminani, the fish died after six months because they could not adapt to the cold lake waters.
RAB later recommended the introduction of ‘Carp’ species in the lake because they are able to adapt to cold temperatures.
Target to increase fish productivity
According to Rutaganira, the country targets to produce 112,000 tonnes of fish per year by 2020.
“Currently, we are producing 27,000 tonnes per year but we hope that if more efforts are put in place and we exploit all the opportunities and invest in research productivity, then the production could increase,” he said.
In 2013/14, Rwanda produced 24,500 tonnes. The number increased to 27,000 tonnes in the 2014/15 fiscal year. According to RAB projections, the country will produce 35,000 tonnes of fish by next year.
Of the 27,000 tonnes of fish produced in the last financial year, only 1,500 tonnes was harvested from fish farms.