Gishanda Fish Farm | A vision of sustainability

Gishanda Fish Farm | A vision of sustainability

The Gishanda Fish Farm shines out of the Eastern region of Rwanda as a centre for sustainable development, innovative aquaculture production and community empowerment. Within four years, Gishanda has not only transformed fish farming in the area, but also become a cornerstone of social economic growth, education, and environmental stewardship. Let us take a closer look at the journey of Gishanda Fish Farm and the significant influence it has wielded over the aquaculture scene in Rwanda and the nearby community.

A Vision of Sustainability

The establishment of the Gishanda Fish Farm is the fruit of forward-thinking cooperation between Akagera National Park, managed by African Parks, and a consortium of partners headed by Larive International, including Viqon, Til-Aqua, Claresse Visverwerking, LakeSide Fish Farm, Independent Energy, and Lattice Consulting. Furthermore, the invaluable support of the Governments of Rwanda and the Netherlands has been instrumental in making this endeavour a reality.

Launched in October 2022, Gishanda aimed to bring innovation and new capacity to the aquaculture industry to drive up sustainable aquaculture development within Rwanda and showcase innovative aquaculture techniques that are both efficient and profitable. Moreover, the farm, which is powered by solar panels and requires a tenth of the water of traditional fish farming, serves as a shining example of renewable energy integration and resource efficiency in aquaculture practices. To date, Gishanda has far exceeded expectations having:

Empowering Communities

The team behind Gishanda Fish Farm work from the premise that thriving communities are essential for sustainable development. While initially driven by the necessity for powering the farm, the installation of a transformer incidentally facilitated the connection of two neighbouring villages to the grid, along with the construction of a bridge to enhance connectivity and assist a nearby school in accessing clean, drinkable water. Furthermore, they offer complimentary pond liners to cooperatives combined with compelling business case developments, facilitating the establishment of their own catfish farms. This initiative not only impacts valuable skills but also paves the way for financial self-sufficiency. This shows that Gishanda is committed to supporting strong, resilient communities. Additionally, Gishanda Fish Farm has made significant contributions to ecological restoration and community prosperity by supplying 198,000 fingerlings for free to restock 5 lakes in 2023.

Gishanda Fish Farm, led by its female co-managers Matty and Eline, exemplifies the positive changes brought about by the project. Their secure jobs and financial stability have enabled them to provide for their families and become beacons of empowerment in their community. Other farm workers have likewise enjoyed notable advantages. They can now afford to support their families, pay for essentials like insurance and transportation, and feed themselves a protein-rich diet.

“Working at Gishanda fish farm as a hatchery manager has technically improved my skills in fish handling, health, treatment, and behaviour observation. Financially, I’ve got the possibility to support my family as a wife and a mother. Through this intensive fish farming technology which is new in the country, I have gained an excellent network, more confidence and developed my professional fish farming career” – Eline

“Working at Gishanda fish farm has helped my passion for aquaculture to substantially increase, grow professionally, upgrade my skills and continuously learn new, level up my confidence and decision-making capacity as well as earning an income that does help not only me in everyday life but my whole family.” – Matty

Source of Nutritious Protein

Gishanda Fish Farm is not just a supplier of protein; it’s a pioneer in sustainable aquaculture, particularly through the use of YY tilapia genetics. This innovative approach not only ensures the provision of nutritious protein to the local community but also addresses broader social, economic, and environmental issues.

By cultivating tilapia with YY genetics, Gishanda Fish Farm is able to produce male tilapia without the use of hormones, which are traditionally cultured using a sex reversal process. This method avoids the negative impacts associated with hormone use, such as compromised immune systems in fish and potential health risks to humans and the environment. Unlike hormone-treated fish, YY male tilapia exhibit enhanced resistance and reduced mortality, leading to more sustainable and efficient production.

Environmentally, the YY technology mitigates risks associated with the escape of genetically modified organisms into natural habitats. Traditional hormone-reversed fish, if escaped, could produce all-female offspring and disrupt local ecosystems. YY tilapia, being naturally male, do not pose this risk, thus protecting biodiversity.

Economically, this approach is beneficial for both the farm and the community. The farm experiences low mortality rates and better growth performance, which translates into higher yields and affordable prices. Consequently, Gishanda sells 10% of its sustainably raised tilapia at half the price of beef, making a healthier diet more accessible to the local populace.

Integration with Agriculture

Gishanda Fish Farm is unique because it combines fish farming with other types of agriculture. This creates a balanced and resilient farming system. The wastewater generated by the RAS system is repurposed and marketed as liquid fertilizer. This nutrient-rich fertilizer is highly effective in nurturing the vegetable garden, where a cooperative of female farmers produces fresh vegetables for the local market. Additionally, the local community has access to this liquid fertilizer at no cost.

This promotes sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices while enhancing productivity. The vegetable garden is led by a group of local women, empowered towards managing and operating independently. This transition embodies Gishanda’s dedication to community empowerment and long-term sustainability, as it continues to sow the seeds of prosperity in the Eastern region of Rwanda.

Looking Towards the Future

Gishanda Fish Farm, now in its third year of operation, is constantly updating and improving. To guarantee its ongoing success, strategic planning is being carried out, with a focus on becoming a primary producer of Natural Male Tilapia fingerlings using cutting-edge YY technology. The farm is still dedicated to its goals of empowering local communities, promoting sustainable development, and fueling economic growth in Rwanda’s eastern region.

This milestone owes its success to the collective endeavours of our esteemed partners:

  • Africa Parks for providing the location and their invaluable support
  • Larive International for taking the project initiative, spearheading the development and assuring project coordination
  • The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) for co-funding the development through the Impact Cluster Instrument
  • Viqon for their engineering expertise in sustainable recirculation technology
  • Til-Aqua for their expertise on YY-Technology – All Male Tilapia
  • Claresse Visverwerking for their contributions to farm operations and technical training and support
  • Lakeside Fish Farm for facilitating training sessions prior to the completion of Gishanda
  • Independent Energy for their design, installation and monitoring of a solar system with battery backup
  • Lattice for their execution of studies and training programs at Gishanda premises


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