The leasing of management and operationalisation of Urban Fisheries Products Promotion Centre is a timely shot in the arm of the fisheries sector. The move is expected to ensure proper handling of fish produce, market access and, most importantly, address the issue of lack of enough nutritious fish feeds- a major concern for the sector.
Fish farming has been largely shunned mainly because of the expensive fish feeds which are imported from Uganda and Israel at about $1.5 (about Rwf1, 000) per kilogramme.
However, this could be addressed sooner because under a 10-year lease deal, AQUAHORT Export Ltd/AEL, will put in place a fish feeds factory with capacity to produce five tonnes of fish feeds per day.
This initiative should be able to address the challenge of feeds and encourage more farmers to venture into commercial fish farming. Because of low participation in fish farming, the country currently imports about 15,000 tonnes of fish, which still has not satisfied the market demand.
Rwanda has the lowest per capita fish consumption in East Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, with 2.3 kilogrammes of fish per person per year.
The target is to reach 6.7 kilogrammes per person per year. But to achieve that target fish farming has to be boosted to produce around 112,000 tonnes of fish per year.
Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) should intensify efforts to attract more people into fish farming, now that the biggest challenge of fish feeds shortage is going to be addressed. Once the factory is in place, local farmers will get feeds at a half of the current cost ($1.5) a kilogramme.
Although the country’s fish production increased from 9,117 tonnes in 2007 to 30,000 tonnes in 2015, a lot needs to be done to reach the projected target of 155,000 tonnes by 2020.