RWANDA – Rwanda has recorded significant growth in fish production by 27.8% to 43,632 tonnes in 2018 compared to 31,465 tonnes produced in 2017, reports New Times.

According to Rwanda’s Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), increased investments in modern and commercially oriented aquaculture practices were the major drivers of the growth.

However, despite a rise in production, Rwanda doesn’t meet the local demand which has pushed the country to import an estimated 15,000 tonnes of fish every year in order to cater for the rising demand.

The sector has been recording an upward trend in production since 2016 when the output stood at 26,451 tonnes despite hardships implying that interventions to increase domestic production and reduce imports have been paying off.

Gérardine Mukeshimana, the Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, revealed that the government has also eased the process of acquiring licenses for aquaculture, which has attracted more investments in the industry.

The minister said that investors in the fisheries industry are facilitated to obtain fishing concessions, water use permits as well as empowered with technical support on the production of fingerlings among other interventions.

The sector has also recorded increased adoption of cage aquaculture – which deploys enclosed netting material that secures the fish while allowing relatively free water exchange with the surrounding environment.

The minister highlighted insufficient funding as the major challenge facing fish industry which is limiting production despite high potential.

According to Gérardine, the industry has attracted about 26 investors utilising floating cages, which has boosted fish stocks in major fishing grounds such as in Lake Kivu, Lake Muhazi, Lake Ruhondo and Lake Sake.

However, despite the growing demand, Rwanda’s capita fish production at an average of 2.5 kilogrammes annually is still low compared to the East African Community average of 6 kilogrammes.

The country has about 1,424 fish ponds of which 731 are effectively productive, 569 semi-productive, and 125 which are not utilised.

Rwanda has two big hatcheries with a capacity to produce 4.5 million fingerlings per year owned by the government

The country targets to produce 112,000 tonnes of fish every year by 2024, according to the fourth strategic plan for agriculture transformation, which runs from 2018 to 2024.