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Executive summary Ease

A countrywide survey was carried out to assess the status, trends and issues related to fish production, marketing and consumption in the Kyrgyz Republic. The survey employed structured questionnaires and interviewed 1167 respondents including fish farmers, fish and fishery product exporters and importers, fish and fishery product sellers, household and institutional consumers and key informants. The survey outcome provides guidance to improve marketing of fish locally and exporting as well as to promote fish consumption in the Kyrgyz Republic. Survey also generated a database on above respondent categories based on the information collected.

Production of fish and fish products

Active phase of fish farm development in the Kyrgyz Republic during the post Soviet era was in 1996-2002 and 2005-2011 in Chui and Issyk-Kul Oblasts (Provinces), but with little fish farm development activities in other provinces. Fish farms are either operated by (i) small-scale fish farmers owning or renting pond/s, sometimes also involved in small-scale processing of fish for sale mainly in the local market, or (ii) large-scale fish farms owning ponds and processing fish for export, or (3) fish farms with non operational ponds. The latter engage in processing activities of fish that they buy from elsewhere. Majority of employees in fish farms are males (80-90%) with an average number of workers in small-scale farms and large-scale farms of six to seven and ten, respectively. An average of six and ten additional temporary workers are hired seasonally by small- and large-scale farms, respectively. Wages of fish farm workers vary by region, being highest in Chui oblast and lowest in Talas and Naryn oblasts. On average the wage of a permanent worker does not exceed 4198 Kyrgyz Soms (KGS), and for a temporary worker it is 3528 KGS. The total number of fish species cultured in fish farms amounts to 13 and in one farm it could vary from one to four. Common carp and silver carp are the most commonly grown species in an extensive practice followed by grass carp, rainbow trout, white fish, and peled. Criteria for selection of fish species for farming vary from fast growing species (31%) to species with ability to withstand environmental conditions (13%). Only a small group of farmers (5%) is guided by profit to select the fish species. The production capacity of farms vary between one to 11 tonnes of fresh fish per year, while cage farms produce around 70 tonnes. Significant number of fish farmers (41%) are affiliated to associations or cooperatives and this trend is highest in Issyk-Kul Oblast. Except for cage fish culture farmers, most farmers do not use fish feeds manufactured based on nutritionally balanced formula and the feed is largely dependent on available feed ingredient such as agricultural by products. Some farmers (18%) also engaged in fish processing activities such as curing/drying of fish (one in two farmers), smoking fish (one in five farmers) and salting and marinating (one in ten farmers). However, most of them (42%) do not have proper basic equipment for processing activities such as tubs to store fish, freezers etc. Fish Marketing and Consumption Survey

Of the produced fish, 82% goes out for sale, and only 8.6% is consumed by the fish farm household, while the rest is used to make payment in kind. The fish sales mainly (61%) takes place at the farm gate to wholesale buyers and one third of fish farmers (27%) sell fish in public places or to fish stores/wholesale points. The average selling price of fish by farmers varies from 90 to 266 KGS per kg being trout fetches the highest price and perch fetches lowest. There is an increasing trend in the prices of fish for the last three years. The price increases four to five times from farm gate to final consumer. 91% of fish farmers believe that they could increase production of fish at their fish farm provided basic inputs are locally available. Farmers perceive that government should take steps to provide support and specialized services to farmers to improve their production capacities and to make their businesses sustainable. They also identify the need for consistent supply of quality fish seeds, nutritionally balanced fish feeds and access to soft loans.

Export of fish and fishery products:

Export of fish and fishery products is in the hands of few large fish farms and fish processors, who buy fish from wholesale traders. Fish is primarily exported to Kazakhstan, and some exporters also distribute within and outside oblasts in the Kyrgyz Republic. Most of the exported fish is in chilled or frozen forms, while distribution within the country is mostly frozen, salted, chilled, marinated, or canned. On average, exporters employ 10 to 20 workers, two thirds of whom are males. Additionally hired temporary staff can vary from 10 to 40 workers. Wages of permanent workers make up to about 50% of the cost of production and wages of temporary staff reach up to 5000 KGS per month per person. Exporters are generally equipped with refrigerated rooms, refrigerated showcases, freezers, storing tubs, and special trucks for transportation of fish. Exporting and distribution within the country of fish and fishery products takes place two to seven times per week ranging from 200 kg to 15 tonnes of chilled fish and/or 25 tonnes of frozen fish. Supply of fish and fishery products within the country are mainly to specialized stores, large wholesale buyers, government entities, large trade centers, major grocery stores, retail outlets, and markets. Major constraints the exporters are faced with are high taxes, lack of credit availability with affordable interest rates and corrupt practices. Exporters perceive that low interest credit and improved legislation to streamline export procedures, elimination of corruption and access to information, particularly on pricing policies, quality standards, and forecasted fish consumption and demand are key to improve the export industry. Import of fish and fishery products: The few importers exist in the country that import fish mainly from Russia, less from Kazakhstan and China in frozen (80%), salted, smoked forms as well as canned fish and seafood. Fish Marketing and Consumption Survey

Imports could reach ten tonnes per month of which bulk is in frozen form. Majority of the fish species imported into the country is herring and walleye Pollack. Importers employ three to ten full-time workers, 60-80% of whom are males, while temporary workers range from one to ten, (all males or up to 50% females). Wages for workers not related to gender or full-time or temporary status and reach up to 5000 KGS per month. Selection of suppliers by large importers is based on reputation, certification of quality, and ecologically friendly produce. Nevertheless the small importers go by low prices, reputation as well as quality of fish determined by color and smell of fish and option to return of unsold fish. Price of imported fish fluctuates seasonally, highest reported in July, and lowest in November. Almost all importers engage in fish processing, mostly salting, smoking, or marinating fish. Large importers distribute products to all available outlets including large and small buyers, as well as wholesale buyers, and households. Small importers mainly sell their products to specialized stores, shops, and markets. Large importers has not observed any changes in the business environment over the past year, while small importers felt a deterioration in the business environment. All importers claimed to be abide by local product quality standards and not aware of required international standards. As reported in the case of exporters the main constraints to importers business are high rate of tax payments and unavailability of credit facilities with low interest rates to invest in improvements of facilities and enhancement of the business.

Sellers of Fish and Fish Products

One third of sellers operate as small vendor stands or kiosks in markets and almost half of them (58%) in Bishkek and Issyk-Kul oblasts. 93% of sellers are small enterprises with less than ten people working with 60% women among permanent workers. Women are paid 106% more than that of men. They also sell other food items in addition to fish. The fish product type dominated by frozen fish (70%), salted (61%) and chilled fish (47%). Less often sell cured fish (36%), smoked (34%), or live fish (27%). The share of live fish in the fish assortment averages 73.25% followed by frozen fish (31.45%), smoked, cured, and chilled fish (21% to 16.28%). The share of fillet, minced meat, marinated fish, and caviar does not exceed 9%. Fish species in an assortment is limited to six species of fish. Greater number of fish species in an assortment is found in Bishkek city and Chui oblast. The most popular species of fish marketed are herring (17%), common carp (14%), bream (9%), walleye Pollack (8%), pike perch, and trout (7% each). Market of other kinds of fish total to 34% and includes over 20 types of fish. Over the past five years, among the fish sold, price of all kinds of fish has been increasing annually, cat fish tops the list with an average increase by 280.8%. Average price of Bream per kilogram increased over the past five years by 180.2%, while other fish for same period varies from 137.4% to 156.1% per kilogram. Sellers use refrigerated showcases (37%), freezers (23%) and walk-in refrigerators (20%) to store their products. Fish sellers do not monitor or evaluate their business environment do not notice any differences in the business climate compared to previous years. As a result they are unaware of competition Fish Marketing and Consumption Survey 6

that exist around them. Sellers use business stimulation methods such as discounts to frequent buyers, wholesale discounts, and seasonal discounts. Other forms of stimulations are selling products with right to return unsold products, packaging, delivery service and other are used rarely. Most sellers (up to 80%) do not receive any marketing information and not aware of any standards to maintain. They expressed their concern in receiving information on competitors pricing policies, market prices, crediting, taxation, place and time of fish sale, as well as forecasted consumption and government policy on fish trade.

Buyers (Institutional consumers)

All institutional buyers of fish and fish products are catering institutions, viz., cafes (46%) and restaurants (25%), kindergartens (2%) and boarding schools (4%), as well as private and one public canteen (10%). The product type is frozen fish (27%), live (14%), and chilled (10%) and popular fish include trout (16%), common carp (13%), canned fish (13%), and walleye pollack (11%). The share of fish in the food offered by catering entities averages to 19%. As in the case of sellers, buyers do not monitor market prices of fish and fish products Nearly half (46%) of institutional buyers express willingness to increase procurement of fish and fish products if prices go down. Institutional buyers often face problems with high wholesale prices (50%), poor quality of fish (35%), limited assortment (23%), and poor sanitation in sale outlets (8%). Households buyers Average number per household is 5.1 and the main sources of income in surveyed households are agriculture (19%), civil service (17%), trade (13%), and pensions (10%). Overall 16% of households do not use refrigerators and average frequency of purchase of fish or fish products is once in every 24 days. Average monthly income in surveyed households is 10,833.6 KGS and spend on average 288 KGS in one purchase of fish. The share of fish and fish products in total food basket amounts to less than 9.7%. Level of fish consumption is as low as consumption of pork, which most people in the country do not consume for cultural and religious reasons. Household buyers prefer canned fish, live, chilled, frozen, and salted fish. Most often households buy common carp, herring, and trout. Majority of households (46%) buy fish and fish products at a local market. 21% buys fish in a specialized outlet, 12% in a supermarket and 10% in a specialized fish store. There is a gender preference for fish and fish products. Women tend to prefer live fish and men canned, salted, and smoked fish, while children prefer canned fish. Household buyers perceive live fish as a commodity inconvenient in preparation and chilled and frozen fish with poor taste and high price. Cooking of fish is limited to fried fish and fish soup, which do not contribute to increased consumption of fish. It seems that households are insufficiently informed of various forms of recipes to prepare fish.

Sample of surveyed fish farms and deviation from their actual number Region/oblast Number of fish farms Chui oblast 16 Issyk-Kul 20 oblast Talas oblast 5 Naryn oblast 1 Osh oblast Jalal-Abad 1 oblast Batken oblast 43 Country, total



Deviation (+ more / - less )

% of total registered 37.2 46.5 11.6 2.3 2.3 100

Number of fish farms 12 38 15 37 3 1 1 33 9.3 3 3 100

% of total surveyed +0.2 +0.5 +2.6 +0.7 +0.7 -


Establishment of fish farms The study has revealed that significant share (50%) of surveyed fish farms started their activities in 1995-2002. Development of fish farms after this period slowed down. Nearly 10% of surveyed fish farms were established during past ten years and are mostly located in Issyk-Kul oblast . Since independence, many fish farms started from 1996 (Table 3.1.1). Most fish farms in Chui oblast were started between 1998 and 2002, while 80% of Issyk-Kul fish farms were commenced between 2005 and 2011. No notable activity in terms of new farms was noted in Talas, Naryn, and Jalal-Abad oblasts.

Number of employees and remuneration A fish farm employs average 6-7 persons. Depending on the season, farms attract six additional temporary workers. Most farm workers are males. Of six full-time workers, five are usually male and one female. same ratio is reported for temporary staff (Table 3.2.1). Table 3.1.1. Year of fish Region/Province/Oblast Total, n=32 farms established by oblast (%) Year ___________ Chui, n=12 1970 1996 1998 2000 Issyk-Kul, n=15 100 8.3 16.7 8.3 Talas, n=3 Naryn, n=1 3 3 6.1 3 Jalal-Abad, n=1

2002 2003 2004 2005 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Total

16.7 33.3 8.3 13.3 6.7 6.7 26.7 8.3 6.7 100 100 16.7 100 20

6.7 3 3 6.1 50



33.3 50 33.3

15.2 6.1

12.1 15.2 3 100 13.3 100 12.1 100

Farms in Talas oblast tend to have the highest number of persons employed in a farm (up to 21 fulltime workers and up to 11 temporary workers during peak season). Fish farms in Naryn oblast have the smallest number of employees in a farm, one permanent and eight temporary. Fish farms in JalalAbad usually do not employ temporary workers and have no more than three permanent staff. Average remuneration of fish farm workers ranges from 2400 KGS to more than 4500 KGS per month (Table 3.2.2). The remuneration of fish farm workers vary between oblasts, full-time and temporary workers as well as between gender. Talas and Naryn oblast farms tend to have lower salaries, which are lower than country average salary for permanent staff by 1150 and lower than country average salary for temporary staff by 860 KGS per month. Staff working on fish farms in Chui oblast are the most highly paid as compared to other oblasts (Table 3.2.3). Table 3.2.1. Average number of full-time of whom, and temporary workers, persons Total, N=32 male Female Average number of 6.5 5.1 1.4 full-time staff Average number of 6.1 5.5 0.6 temporary staff

Average Issyk-Kul Talas remuneration n=15 n=3 of fish farm workers, by region. Kyrgyz Soms (KGS) Chui n=12 5000 3770,8 Full-time workers Of whom,

Naryn n=1

Jalal-Abad n=1

Total N=32





Male, full4916,7 4366,7 4000 4000 4000 4000 time Female, full-time 5250 2777,8 3500 3533,3 4333,3 3500 1625 2000 3527,8 Temporary Of whom, Male, 4333,3 4000 1833,3 2000 3839,3 temporary Female, temporary 2642,9 1000 2437,5

Main species of fish grown /found in fish farms (key informant estimates) Chui Carp/Sazan





Silver Carp Grass Carp Trout White fish Pike Perch

Peled Crucian carp4 Tench* Bream

Perch* Marinka* Snakehead* 05






Species of Issyk-Kul fish n=15 farmed/foun d in ponds (% according to farmers estimates) Chui n=12 23.7 Grass carp Common carp 36.8 Silver carp 28.9 Tench 5.5 Crucian (carp) Trout 23.7 1.8 Whitefish Bream Perch Marinka Pike perch Snakehead Peled 36.8 100.0 100.0

Talas n=3

Naryn n=1

Jalal-Abad n=1

Total N=32

20.0 40.0 23.6 5.5 23.6 9.1 5.3 2.6 100 50.0 40.0 100.0 100 9.1 9.1 9.1

9.1 45.5 18.2 2.8 3.7 50.0 1.9 0.9 1.9 0.9 1.9 0.9 45.5 100

19.4 37.9 24.1


37.9 100.0

During the study an effort was made to determine how many fish species were producing by farmers. The Table 3.3.3 summarizes answers given by surveyed farmers and shows distribution of number of fish by species. However, the information presented below could be of interest for further studies. Farmers have not kept records of how many fish were introduced into the ponds at the stocking to assess the efficiency of production.

It was also noted that many farmers stock fish larvae into ponds rather stocking fish fry or fingerlings and practice extensive method of fish culture. When the stocking stage is fish larvae the return in production is very low when compared to stocked with fish fry or fingerlings.

Number of fish produced (including larvae and fry), by species and oblast Chui Trout Peled White fish Common carp Silver Carp Marinka Bream Grass carp Crucian carp Tench Snakehead Pike Perch Perch





Average number of fish

6 000 350 500 210000 51 500

100 000 4 000 000 1000 000 11878 168 917 1 000 200 5670 33 450 175 2 500 4 000 2 500

1 254 000 4000000 118536 92 727 1000 53556 33450 175 2500 4000 2500

645667 567000 79008 120148 600 36935

1 000 200 000