March | April 2014 Fish feed industry in Egypt: constraints and solutions

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The International magazine for the aquaculture feed industry


Fish feed industry in Egypt: constraints and solutions
by Professor Abdel-Fattah M. El-Sayed, Oceanography Department, Faculty of Science, Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt

In modern history, commercial aquaculture started in the mid-1950s of the last century, with the construction of a tilapia farm in 1957. Since then, aquaculture industry has been growing at a steady rate until late 1990s. Afterwards, the industry witnessed an outstanding growth and substantial development. As a result, aquaculture production increased from only 139,389 tonnes in 1998 to over one million tonnes in 2012. While the production of capture fisheries remained almost stable at about 300,000 to 400,000 tonnes during the same period. It is no surprise, therefore, that current aquaculture production contributes about 75 percent to total fish production in Egypt (see Figure 1). Sixteen fish groups (seven freshwater and nine marine/brackishwater species) and one crustacean species (shrimp), belonging to 12 families, are currently cultured in Egypt. However, only three fish groups (tilapia, carps and mullets) represent 95 percent of total aquaculture production. Moreover, Nile tilapia alone contributes over 62 percent percent to production quota.


quaculture has a long history in Egypt,and been practiced in the Nile Valley for human consumption since 2500 BC.

from semi-intensive, low input system to toward more intensive systems which increases the demand for processed feed and fish seeds. As a result, the fish feed industry in Egypt has gone parallel to the production approach.

Commercial fish feed industry
Commercial aquaculture feed manufacturing in Egypt started in the early 1990s by the General Authority for Fisheries Resources Development (GAFRD), with two mediumscale fish feedmills. By 2000, there were only five governmental mills producing about 20,000 tonnes of pressed fish feed per year. During the past decade, the sector has witnessed an outstanding expansion, with a significant engagement of the private sector. Recent surveys indicated that there are nine state-owned fish feedmills and over 50 registered private feedmills distributed throughout the country, particularly in the areas of, or close to, the aquaculture production. Nonetheless, no accurate official data is available on the current fish feed production. However, the current production has been estimated at about 900,000-1,000,000 tonnes per year. The production cycle is about six-to-eight months (April/May-September/October). About 80 percent of this production is in the form of compressed feed while the remaining 20 percent are extruded feeds. Compressed feeds are generally cheaper than extruded feeds but they are of lower quality. The average feed conversion ratio (FCR) of compressed feed is two compared to an FCR of 1:1.5 of extruded feeds. About 95 percent of the produced feeds contain 25 percent crude protein (CP), while
32 | INTERNATIONAL AQUAFEED | March-April 2014

Earthen-pond rearing
Traditionally, semi-intensive culture in earthen ponds has been, and still is being by far, the most important farming system in Egypt; contributing about 75 percent to total aquaculture production, followed by fish farming in floating cages culture (20 percent). Pond fertilization and supplemental feeds are the major nutrient inputs in this system. However, there has been a gradual shift

the remaining five percent contain 30, 32 and 35 percent CP and are generally produced upon the farmer’s request. In addition, few tonnes of feed containing less than 40 percent CP are also produced for larval feeding or marine fish feeding. About 90 percent of fish feeds consumed in Egypt are produced by the private sector, while only 10 percent is produced by stateowned holding companies which own nine mills producing both animal feeds and fish feeds. These manufacturing plants produce both pelleted and extruded pellets for various marine and freshwater fish species. The production capacities of these mills range from 5000-30,000 metric tones per year, with an average of about 15,000 tonnes per mill. There are also more than 200 small-scale pelleting units, each with an annual production capacity of 1000 – 4000 tonnes of fish feeds. These milling units are generally locally made, and use simple technologies and generally are not equipped with air driers. The majority of these pelleting units are not registered, and therefore, their production is generally not recorded or reported. They also offer the service of pelleting farmers’ feed ingredients. In these cases, fish farmers buy their own ingredients, prepare their feed formulae and just rent the feedmill to manufacture the feed. This approach leads to 10-15 percent reduction in feed costs for those farmers. Between 50 and 99 percent of feed ingredients that are used in aquafeed production in Egypt are imported. Egypt is the world’s largest cereal importer, second only to Japan, at over 18 million tonnes in 2012. The country also imports 99 percent of soybean cake and 97 percent of

FEATURE soybean seeds, which are the major protein source for in fish feeds. The unit price of feed ingredients have also been sharply increasing during the past few years. As a result, the prices of processed fish feeds have skyrocketed during the same period (see Figure 2). The fish feed industry in Egypt faces several other challenges and constraints. These are summarized below. months per year; while permanent employees get their salaries for the whole year. This reduces the profit margins of mill owners and forces them to reduce permanent employment • Many fish feedmills lack the basic quality control standards, with regards to feed quality, composition, processing, storage, handling and transportation due to the absence of governmental monitoring and inspection • Many fish farmers lack the accessibility to credit and financial support. As a result, they purchase the feeds from producers or traders on credit for higher prices, and sometimes they receive poor quality feed international quality control standards • Capacity building programmes for improving the skills of feed manufacturers and fish farmers should be created and sustained • A thorough survey of the available conventional and unconventional feed resources in the Egypt should be undertaken. An evaluation to establish their availability, accessibility, chemical composition, price and nutritional value for farmed fish should be conducted • Extension services should be instituted by the relevant authorities (especially the General Authority for Fisheries Resources Development) to improve feed and feeding management • The government must undertake periodic reviews of the animal feed legislations to ensure coherency and to reduce/eliminate any overlapping, redundant and conflicting regulations • Improving the capacity and technology of existing feedmills. As mentioned earlier, 80 percent of produced feed is in the form of compressed pellets. Finally, the use of compressed-type feeds leads to significant feed waste. Replacing existing compressors, at least partially, with modern extruder lines, or adding extruding production lines into current aqua feedmills should be given considerable attention in the development plans.

The following constraints have been identified as major threats to the development of the aquafeed industry in Egypt. • The dependence of the sector on the importation of feed inputs and continuous increase of their prices. Consequently, the prices of processed fish feeds have been skyrocketing during the past few years, and are expected to increase much further • The rapid growth of aquaculture is expected to create competition for raw materials between the aquafeed and the animal feed industries, which may further influence the price of feeds • The use of old, compressed feeds technology. Compressed feeds lead to substantial feed waste due to the poor feed conversion ratio (FCR) • All feedmills work for six-to-seven

Reducing feed costs, increasing feed quality and encouraging best feed and feeding management practice require special attention, due to the critical role that feed cost and quality plays in supporting the overall performance of aquafeed sector. This goal can be achieved through: • Custom tariffs on imported feed ingredients must be reviewed to reduce the price of finished feeds • Aquafeed mills should be routinely monitored and inspected to assure that production procedures, feed composition, packaging, handling, transportation, storage and hygiene comply with the


March-April 2014 | INTERNATIONAL AQUAFEED | 33

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