By Suzi Dominy*
Demand for affordable protein is growing quickly in Africa, which is one of the world’s fastest growing regions by both population and income. Aquaculture is expected to play a significant role in African food security and lakes such as Kariba, Victoria and Volta offer high potential.
Aquaculture in Zambia – particularly of tilapia - is developing rapidly in order to reduce the dependency on imported fish, but a lack of high quality feed is a major bottleneck. Both Skretting and Aller Aqua have partnered with local tilapia producers to help increase supply.
Denmark’s Aller Aqua Group has joined forces with Yalelo Limited, one of the world’s leading tilapia aquaculture firms, to construct an aquaculture feedmill: it will enable Yalelo to boost tilapia production to 20,000-30,000 tons within the next few years.
The US$10 million aquafeed mill has a capacity of 50,000 tons of feed per year and gives Aller Aqua a good basis for expansion in Zambia, a country that aims to be not only self-sufficient with farmed fish, but also to be able to export to neighboring countries such as Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Tanzania and Congo.
“The factory will be situated near the town of Siavonga, on the shore of Lake Kariba, close to the major fish farms in Zambia and Zimbabwe, and is expected to be ready mid-2017, provided that the final commitments and permits are given from various authorities and institutions as expected” said Henrik Halken, Group Vice President, who is responsible for the company’s activities on the African continent.
Meanwhile, Skretting Zambia, a 75/25 joint venture between Nutreco and African Century Foods (ACF), has also picked Siavonga to build a tilapia feed plant. It will have an initial capacity of 25,000 metric tons of extruded aquafeed, much of which will be used to supply ACF’s tilapia farms. ACF is Africa’s largest fish producer, with farms in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Uganda. Plant capacity will be expanded in a second phase with the aim of supplying the wider South-East African region.
Harm de Wildt, Managing Director for Nutreco´s operations in the region, said the joint venture is a new step in the company’s commitment to the African market. It comes on the heels of fish feed investments in Egypt, as reported in the January 2016 column - and in Nigeria, where the company opened a 10,000 metric tons capacity catfish feed plant in Ibadan in February, with an eye to producing 50,000 metric tons of feed a year in the near future.
“Having consistent supplies of high quality feed is critical to the success of our aquaculture operations in Zambia and Zimbabwe,” Henry Pitman, CEO of ACF: said. “This new feed mill will allow us to expand our operations from the current production levels of 10,000 tonnes and help to reduce our cost of production in line with our strategy to become the lowest cost producer of tilapia in the region.”
Aller Aqua’s Halken recognizes great potential in Africa and says the company needs to make the most of the momentum it has created over the last few years. “We experienced significant growth in Egypt in 2015 and created two new sales subsidiaries in both Kenya and Nigeria, both of which contribute positively to the company’s growth. The feed for these two markets comes from our European factories and contribute positively here. In Zambia and the region, we plan to replicate our experience of supporting smallholder fish farmers through training in the use of more efficient commercial fish feeds.”
Aller Aqua’s new factory in Egypt was inaugurated a year ago. With the new factory in Zambia, Halken said Aller Aqua Group will consolidate its position as the largest producer of environmentally friendly, extruded fish feed in Africa.
Feed research and innovations
• Skretting recently claimed to be the first to market with salmon feeds that can be formulated completely free of fishmeal, while delivering equal performance in terms of fish growth and health. The development means that Skretting can be increasingly flexible with raw material inclusions, enabling available responsibly sourced fishmeal to go much further than in the past, and thereby increasing the sustainability credentials of salmon production globally.
However, although Skretting now has the knowledge and capability to produce fishmeal-free feeds, it does not mean that fishmeal will be eliminated from the products.
“Fishmeal is a natural and well-balanced source of high-quality protein,” said Trygve Berg Lea, Sustainability Manager Skretting. “As an ingredient in aquaculture feed, fishmeal carries large quantities of energy per unit weight and is an excellent source of protein, lipids (oils), minerals and vitamins.”
“Skretting will continue to use fishmeal in our products if it benefits the nutritional composition of the feed, is economic, and the source of fishmeal is responsibly managed fisheries or the valuable use of by-products from seafood processing,” added Berg Lea.
• Cargill has launched two new grower feed innovations for the Norwegian salmon farm market to replace OPAL. They are based on the EWOS COMPASS biological model that takes into consideration temperature, geography, season, salmon prices and raw material prices. The feeds – available exclusively in Norway – help ensure that customers receive the optimal feed for their location and production strategy.
“One and the same feed can’t be best at everything”, explained Synne Marte Andersen, product manager grower feed. “That is why we now want to differentiate, so that our customers have more freedom to select feeds based on their own needs and challenges. That means they will have more room to adjust growth upwards or downwards to exploit the MPB (maximum permitted biomass) to the best advantage.”
EWOS SOLID is designed to give the smallest production cost per kilo fish, and has high focus on use of cost effective raw materials. It is built on varying nutritional needs through the production cycle. EWOS EXTRA is a high-performance feed that shortens the production time. Micronutrients have also been added to the feed, as well as a heightened level of antioxidants to ensure the right utilization of nutrients as well as good fish health.
• Feed company, Zeigler Bros, Inc. started up a new aquaculture research center at Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, Florida. The new research center, Z-ARC, is a cooperative agreement between Zeigler and the Florida Atlantic University, and will be used for animal research trials that will help to improve and expand aquaculture technologies for the industry. The existing facilities at Harbor Branch will significantly extend the scientific capability of Z-ARC to evaluate different species, health management, and the impacts of feeds and nutrition.
In addition to developing its own products, Zeigler welcomes cooperative efforts with other technology companies to identify and test new ingredients, additives, and technologies, Dr. Craig Browdy, Director of Research and Development at Zeigler said.
• Research by Nofima into outbreaks of the salmon diseases PD (pancreas disease) and HSMB (heart and skeletal muscle inflammation) has shown that mortality can be halved through the optimum use of feed. PD and HSMB are two of the most widespread and common diseases in the Norwegian salmon farming industry, and often occur simultaneously.
In June 2015, a simultaneous infection of PD and HSMB was studied by Nofima researchers. They noted that salmon fed on a lean, protein-rich test feed had a mortality rate of 4 per cent. Salmon fed normal control feed with a higher fat content had a mortality rate of 9 per cent. The group fed on the lean test feed also had higher feed intake and growth. Statistical analysis confirmed that there was lower mortality in large fish, and in fish that were less stressed during handling. Stress, the size of the fish and the diet explain 99 per cent of the variation in acute mortality. Further research is now needed to explain the specific mechanisms contributing to the positive effects on fish survival.
• German-funded AquaLINC, aims to increase supplies of fish that are more affordable and have a higher nutritional content for consumers in Egypt and Bangladesh. Implemented by WorldFish, the project will focus on developing production models for tilapia that meet the demands of resource poor consumers and are profitable for producers and retailers.
Using feed-additives to increase the Omega 3, and micronutrient content of farmed fish will have significant benefits for all, but especially for resource poor consumers who are more likely to be under nourished.
Recent WorldFish research in Egypt and Bangladesh suggests poor consumers typically prefer purchasing less expensive, smaller fish while aquaculture production systems in both countries are increasingly geared towards producing larger fish. Focusing on tilapia, AquaLINC will examine the business case for how to increase the production and market for smaller fish, which consume less feed and have shorter lifecycles, and may reduce the environmental footprint for fish production.
Suzi Dominy is the founding editor and publisher of aquafeed.com. She brings 25 years of experience in professional feed industry journalism and publishing. Before starting this company, she was co-publisher of the agri-food division of a major UK-based company, and editor of their major international feed magazine for 13 years.