Msingi Aquaculture Team Tours Thailand

In this Issue

During the week of 17 July 2017, the Msingi Aquaculture team visited Thailand to familiarize themselves and take early lessons from Thai’s more developed aquaculture industry. It was a full week that involved criss-crossing the country visiting farms, factories, an international training facility, and a wholesale fish market. 

 

Msingi Aquaculture Team Tours Thailand

There are useful lessons to learn from the more developed Thai aquaculture industry. Firstly, disease is a potential show-stopper to the industry’s rapid progress. East Africa needs to build disease mitigation into its aquaculture industry, ensure that imports are regulated and controlled and implement health and safety practices within farms; 

Small scale cage farm on the River Kwei in Kachanaburi

Secondly, the region will need to improve on availability of up to date technical and business skills and knowledge with appropriate institutions to offer training and research support to the East Africa aquaculture sector. The Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) has played this role in Thailand and within ASEAN countries, offering various courses across all aspects of aquaculture.
A third lesson is that developing a strong local market is essential for a sustainable sector. While Thailand has a strong Tilapia market locally, Chinese Tilapia still dominates the export markets (e.g. to Europe) due to Chinese government support and economies of scale;
There are innovations that East Africa markets could experiment with. In Thai markets, a large proportion of Tilapia is sold ‘live’. This improves quality for the consumer (freshness) and is an immediate differentiator from frozen imports;

Live Tilapia for sale in tanks at a wholesale fish market in Bangkok

Affordable and excellent quality inputs remain a key element for the commercial viability of the sector. Investment in local feedmills and commercial genetic improvement programmes have enabled Thai firms to access affordable and quality feed and fingerlings. Improved genetics are a source of competitive advantage with Thai tilapia generally reaching 500g weight in less than 6 months. These and many insights provide an opportunity for East Africa’s industry to accelerate growth in the next few years.

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