Egypt: Dutch Aquaculture Experts meet Africa in Alexandria Conference

Egypt has led growth in the African Aquaculture sector over recent decades. Now the sector is facing sustainability issues. At the recent Africa Aquaculture Conference and Exposition, the Netherlands presented itself as a partner to develop appropriate technology, nature based solutions and the craftsmanship needed to sustainably intensify aquaculture production within an integrated food system.

Afraq Alex DAE booth

Late last month, Africa led the world to come to Alexandria for the first Aquaculture Africa Conference and fair hosted by the World Aquaculture Society. The Netherlands were represented by the Dutch Aquaculture Experts, aqua feed and nutrition companies Nutreco (Skretting Egypt), de Heus (Koudijs Kapo) and DSM, and scientists from Wageningen University and Research. Three Dutch companies and DAE attended the trade fair with a booth, while evidence and experience based insights were shared in a seminar on ‘Circularity in African Aquaculture’. For a video impression, see Link

The symposium was opened with a speech by ambassador Han-Maurits Schaapveld who looked back at the history of Dutch involvement in the Egyptian Aquaculture sector, and forward to opportunities for Dutch partners to support Egypt with sustainable aquaculture. Professor Johan Verreth held a keynote speech applying the principles of circularity on aquaculture production. While noting challenges for business viability, he stressed the opportunities offered for people, planet and profit. 

Marc Verdeghem, a senior expert from Wageningen University with WorldFish gave a presentation on the nutritious pond concept. His research demonstrated that ecological and economic results of pond farming could be optimized when aqua feeds are designed not only to directly feed the fish, but also to boost the natural food web in the pond. 
A next presentation was provided by an Egypt-based agribusiness expert from the Netherlands. Kees van Dongen presented the findings from a study on circular proteins for aqua feed. The study identified poultry by-products as a promising candidate to substitute a substantial part of imported fish feed ingredients.

Andries Kamstra, of Kamstra Consult, introduced DAE as a knowledge and business platform of 19 Dutch enterprises and research institutes involved in aquaculture projects all over the globe. His DAE-colleague, Frans Aartsen, owner of Holland Aqua, completed the presentations by sharing comparative evidence and experience with three different appropriate technology levels relevant to Africa: 1) traditional tilapia ponds, (2) RAS pond system and (3) RAS indoor system, addressing the pros and cons of each step towards intensified production.

Aquaculture Symposium

Crucially these Dutch inputs and perspectives needed to be tested and validated with Egyptian and African experts present. In a panel session starring Jasmine Kamar of Koudijs-Kapo, Salah Moselhi of the General Authority on Fish Resources, Alaa Badr of Skretting Egypt and Shimaa Ali of WorldFish, Egyptian expert stakeholders gave their reflections. In their view, potential cooperation, trade and investment opportunities between the Netherlands and Egypt can be found in:

  • the construction and management of hatchery facilities (both marine and fresh water) and cage farming at sea,
  • reducing costs of fish feed by minimizing expensive ingredients or substitute them by alternative (local) ingredients,
  • development of integrated fish farming (desert farming, tilapia and shrimp polyculture).

The symposium was well attended with over 80 participants most of whom stayed until the very last minute. It was concluded that the scarcity of water, land and inputs (such as fish feed ingredients) are obvious incentives to push the Egyptian aquaculture industry towards more circular and more intensive production methods. The Dutch Aquaculture sector because of its expertise in RAS and its focus on circularity could play a role to unlock this potential by co-creating locally relevant solutions with Egyptian, African and international partners.

For a full report on DAE activities at AFRAQ 2021, see document.

The agricultural team is not planning further initiatives on aquaculture in the near future, but would be happy to endorse and advise initiatives by others. Equally, we are interested to explore opportunities for aquaculture integrated into climate smart cropping systems.