The training should result in higher and more consistent levels of production from existing fish farms through more efficient use of feeds and reduced risks of unexpected losses.
Higher quantities and quality of fish should lead to increased profitability and incomes for fish farmers and others in the value chain including wholesalers and retailers. It should also lead to increased employment in a sector which already employs over 100,000 people and is worth at least $1.5 billion at first point of sale.
Hassan Ali, a ‘farmer trainer’ from Fayoum explained: “I am sure that the Best Management Practices training is a useful step for majority of farmers. I discovered that most farmers do not follow the appropriate practices in their farms, especially in feeding and stocking rates.”
A total of 1144 training sessions were delivered in 2013, with each training session attended by approximately 10 fish farmers; this compares to only 31 training sessions in 2012 when the programme commenced. The current target is for 2000 farmers to have received the full suite of training sessions by December 2014. In 2013, training sessions took place in Kafr el Sheikh, Sharkia and Fayoum).
Ibrahim Elsayed, a Fayoum fish farmer who attended training, stated: “The training covered a variety of subjects. We learned how to fertilize ponds to grow natural food in order to reduce the consumption of fish feed which costs a lot. We learned how to manage water in the times of water shortage. After we had the training on harvesting, we started to modify our ponds to have a ditch in the bottom; that helped us to sell live fish, and to harvest ponds in only two or three days. We will reconstruct all ponds when possible and are looking for more of such useful training.”
The training programme is designed to raise aquaculture management standards. Egyptian aquaculture production has risen to more than one million tonnes per year, however with rising feed costs and increased poverty levels, fish farmers are feeling the pressure of increased production costs and lack of price flexibility.
In the coming months, WorldFish and the IEIDEAS project will assess whether fish farmers have changed their management practices as a result of the training, and whether this has resulted in increased profitability and incomes. The training should eventually lead to the establishment of an aquaculture certification scheme for Egyptian fish farms.