Rabobank, GSA report finds Egyptian tilapia output on the path toward recovery

Egypt tilapia farmer holding a fish.

Egypt's tilapia sector is expected to post year-over-year growth in both 2023 and 2024, marking a positive shift from the stagnant output the North African country’s aquaculture sector has reported since 2020, according to a joint report from the Global Seafood Alliance (GSA) and Rabobank.

Specifically, the report, which references data from the GSA and Dutch banking and financial services provider Rabobank, estimates Egyptian tilapia production to grow 6.2 percent in 2023 and will grow 5.2 percent in 2024.

Meanwhile, five other African tilapia-producing countries – Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe – will post combined estimated production growth of 15.6 percent in 2023 and 17.6 percent in 2024, according to the report.

This brighter outlook is largely due to “additional culturing capacity put in place in recent years” by African governments, “as well as national policies promoting aquaculture fueled by rising local demand,” according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

For Egypt in particular, the predicted growth in tilapia production is partly thanks to the country’s strategy of implementing market-friendly policies such as pursuing “private-sector investments and enabling public-sector interventions such as access to state land.”

The nation has attempted to woo private investment in aquaculture by emphasizing the low cost of producing seafood-derived protein compared to other products such as milk and meat.

“The investment cost of producing the required per capita supply of protein is about USD 145.2 million [EUR 134.6 million] for tilapia, compared to about USD 416.3 million [EUR 380.2 million] for milk and USD 466.6 million [EUR 432.2 million] for red meat. That is, the cost of producing fish protein is equivalent to one-third of the cost of producing milk or red meat alike,” a recent African Union report stated.

What attracts investors even more toward Egyptian-farmed tilapia is that the species is the most common fish consumed in the country.

Highlighting these benefits has helped the country secure funding, but the investments are threatened by the inherent risks that come along with Egypt’s economy, which has suffered from “soaring inflation, a shortage of foreign currency and a subsequent increase in feed costs,” the African Union stated.

“The economic crisis has greatly impacted Egypt’s seafood sector, causing instability and uncertainty within the country’s tilapia industry,” the FAO added.

The impact of national economic performance on the tilapia sector is not confined to Egypt alone, as reports indicate the emergence of similar trends in other key tilapia-producing nations and regions, such as ... 

Photo courtesy of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture

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