Prawn farming: an attractive prospect
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CTA. 1990. Prawn farming: an attractive prospect. Spore 28. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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Africa has certain advantages that could be exploited to make prawn farming competitive on a world market at present dominated by Asia and South America. It is an attractive prospect. Prawn farming remains under developed. Only 1.7 million tonnes...
Africa has certain advantages that could be exploited to make prawn farming competitive on a world market at present dominated by Asia and South America. It is an attractive prospect. Prawn farming remains under developed. Only 1.7 million tonnes per annum are harvested from the sea, but world consumers (mainly Japanese, Chinese, North American and European) would buy more if more were available. Entrepreneurs in Latin America and Asia have already seen that farmed prawns could fill this gap in the market, and are ready to exploit it. In the past five years they have produced some 500,000t, and they are becoming rich on it. Substitutes for indigenous species Africans would like to install rearing pools similar to those used elsewhere along their coastlines and have been experimenting in a modest way for the past two years with a few small prawn farms along the west coast The results have been encouraging. At Ziguinchor in Senegal, a four hectare farm has been financed by the Senegalese government and the French Ministry of Cooperation to carry out research into the ways in which prawns adapt to the African inland environment. African coastal prawns, mainly Penaeus duorarum, do not respond well to farming processes. Their growth rate is slow and they carry a virus which multiplies in rearing pools. The solution was for African aquaculturalists to obtain their larvae from other continents. Near Conakry in Guinea, SEPIA (a French company) has found a way of farming Penaeus vannamei, a species from South America. In Sierra Leone a businessman is experimenting with several hectares of pools. In the Gambia a 100 ha project has progressed this year to the production stage. And in Madagascar the France Aquaculture Company plans a 1000 ha farm with a projected production of four tonnes/annum. In Cameroon, in the Congo and in Nigeria small projects will begin in the near future. The production planned for the next five years is limited, a maximum of 2000 3000 tonnes. 'We are not seeking to implement vast schemes', says Denis Gasnier of SEPIA. 'First we must be sure that prawns can be farmed successfully in Africa'. Apart from the fact that local prawn varieties are not suitable for farming, there are further handicaps for Africa to overcome. Unlike Asia and Latin America, there is not such a strong tradition of aquaculture and therefore the technology is less advanced. Furthermore, the sites are not always favourable. On the west coast the drought has accentuated the salinity of the available water and prawns do not thrive in water that is too saline. And often, between Nouackchott and Libreville, the ground is too loose to make good ponds. East Africa holds more promise than the west It is for this reason that the France Aquaculture company prefers East African sites. 'In Mozambique, for example, it is far easier to maintain the water at an acceptable level of salinity;' explains Michel Autrand of France Aquaculture. Madagascar seems to offer the best prospects. 'The sites are easy to develop, the salinity level is satisfactory and because of the established fishing industry all the necessary infrastructure is in place African prawns: for and against If Africans have decided to launch into farming it is because there are several good reasons for doing so. Above all there is a price advantage. Europeans will be the main customers since there is virtually no local market. The prawns will arrive deep frozen by ship, and will, in the context of the Lome Convention, be subject to a tax saving of 5% of their value, which makes them highly competitive on the international market. Moreover, the days of the great Asian and South American prawn empires would seem to be numbered. In Ecuador the environment is so threatened by the land clearance caused by the aquaculturist that no further planning permission for pools is being issued. In Thailand production has dropped by several thousand tonnes because too many pools have been dug and the water has become polluted. With only a few hectares of prawn farms, Africa has still a long way to go but with wisdom and foresight much can be achieved. - France Aquaculture - Michael Autrand BP70 - 29263 Plouzane - FRANCE - SEPIA - Denis Gasnier 2 rue Stephenson - 78787 St Quentin - FRANCE
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