Gishanda Fish Farm, opens at Akagera National Park, Rwanda
Gishanda Fish Farm is a new sustainable socio-economic development project partnership between African Parks-managed Akagera National Park and FoodTechAfrica, a consortium of Dutch private companies, with the support of the Rwandan and The Netherlands Government.
Gishanda Fish Farm, located 10km from Akagera National Park’s main gate, opened on October 18th, 2022. A bold and catalytic project, Gishanda Fish Farm will introduce innovation and new skills to accelerate aquaculture development in Rwanda, provide employment opportunities to surrounding communities and deliver an accessible source of protein to combat local nutritional deficits.
Gishanda brings modern fish farming to the Eastern region of Rwanda. Utilising the latest Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) and solar technology to sustainably farm and harvest fish, Gishanda will serve as a source of fingerlings and education to catalyze fish farming in the region. This Fish Farm will be a producer of quality tilapia fingerlings (juvenile fish), demonstrate catfish farming as an accessible protein production option for communities, as well as tilapia production for food; and serve as a model of circular agriculture with the farm effluent fertilizing an on-site organic vegetable farm.
The Rwandan Government recognises the need to invest in food security to reduce malnutrition and dependency on food imports, while also creating job opportunities and upskilling. Dr. Gerardine Mukeshimana, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources for the Republic of Rwanda, says “Gishanda Fish Farm, and the RAS system of sustainable farming, embodies many of the principles that will enable Rwanda to achieve its long-term vision for becoming an upper-middle-income country by 2035, and a high-income country by 2050. Sustainable agriculture, and particularly aquaculture, is an area of strategic focus to simultaneously address food security and to build the sector into a key national economic contributor. Gishanda Fish Farm’s role as a source of quality inputs and education positions it well within this strategy.”
Throughout its construction, Gishanda hired from the local community, began training in fish farming, brought electricity to two villages and water to a school and provided local farmers with a low-cost nutrient rich effluent fertiliser. In the long term, Gishanda will produce up to 30 tonnes of 350-500g tilapia annually of which at least 10% will be supplied locally at affordable pricing to combat local nutritional deficits. Despite Rwanda’s verdant landscape, malnutrition is still an issue and can lead to bush meat poaching. Gishanda will provide a solution to this problem for the communities bordering Akagera. Ladis Ndahiriwe, Park Manager of Akagera National Park says: “it may seem an unusual move for a conservation organisation to be building and running a fish farm. However, our goal at African Parks is to leave a legacy of sustainability, for both communities and wild places. Gishanda actually makes perfect sense – sustainable land use, biodiversity conservation, and improving community lives.”
In addition to the production of fully grown tilapia, Gishanda is expected to produce 1M – 1.5M tilapia fingerlings annually, of which 110,000 will be retained for farm production. A high-quality strain of tilapia, the commercial sale of around 1 million fingerlings will bolster the Rwandan aquaculture sector. The balance of 300,000 – 400,000 will be used for re-stocking lakes in the region, generating locally viable sources of protein and economic growth on a national scale.
Training and upskilling are at the heart of the Gishanda project and it aspires to become a national learning hub for the aquaculture sector, partnering with educational and government institutions as well as the private sector, serving to address a skills gap as the national aquaculture industry grows. Three catfish demo ponds have been built on site to teach household level catfish farming to community members. Pond supplies (lining) and assistance will be provided to community people to develop catfish farming for nutritional and enterprise purposes. Partnering with organic farming experts in Rwanda, Gishanda will develop a demonstration farm to teach local farmers methods in sustainable agriculture. The garden will also be offered as a business to a selected community cooperative (the goal is for a women’s cooperative) who will benefit from hands-on technical, sales and financial training to develop a viable and sustainable business.
This is the second fish farm of its kind in Rwanda. In 2019, FoodTechAfrica developed and opened the first Rwandan RAS farm in Bugesera, Lakeside Fish Farm. The viability of this concept, both economically and technically, was successfully tested through the establishment of a grow-out tank at Lakeside fish farm and is now being applied at scale at the Gishanda Fish Farm. The Recirculation Aquaculture System allows for the production of high volumes of sustainably produced fish on a small land surface. Because of the re-use of water, it uses 10 times less water than traditional pond-based fish farming systems. FTA’s Wouter Van Vliet says “The confluence of partnerships and technology is a powerful tool for solving some of the most critical food supply issues. At FTA, we are proud of what this partnership has delivered and the ripple impacts it will have on the aquaculture sector”.
The effluent water from the system is highly concentrated in nutrients, making it very suitable as a fertilizer. The integration of solar power with this fish farming system also reduces energy costs and environmental impacts further. “The major goal was to create a system that could generate enough energy to power all of the equipment both during the day and at night. The quality of the system’s components was also given top priority, as uninterrupted power supply is critical” Frank Hoogers operational director at Independent Energy explains.
Beyond the companies’ support, the project was made possible by generous co-funding from The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and SHV. SHV subsidiary Nutreco Middle East and Africa will act as a key sponsor and feed partner for the aqua farming activities.
Matthijs Wolters, The Netherlands Ambassador to Rwanda says, “The Gishanda Fish Farm illustrates the sustainable impact of public-private partnerships and the long-term benefits for the growth of the aquaculture sector in Rwanda. The innovative circular economic model the Gishanda Fish Farm embodies, will have a catalytic effect on the prosperity of Rwanda’s communities”.
Nutreco CEO Fulco van Lede says, “We are proud to announce today’s partnership with African Parks, and in particular our close collaboration with SHV. Together, we will put Nutreco’s purpose of Feeding the Future into place, in a region that requires more sustainable protein sources.’’
Ricardo Kandelman, Executive Board Director at SHV, concludes: “Supporting and educating people to ensure a better future is a perfect fit with the SHV purpose – ‘Courage to care for generations to come’. Throughout our history of more than 125 years we have always cared for people and communities in all parts of the world in which we operate. We are proud that because of our support this project can be realised. Teaming up with Nutreco makes it even more valuable as it clearly shows what SHV can do if we join forces within our family of companies.”
FoodTechAfrica is a public-private partnership, headed by Larive International, developing all aspects of the aquaculture value chain in East Africa. Our exceptional journey started modestly in 2012, when a Kenyan farmer told us he could not make fish farming profitable. A remarkable cooperation was established with the aim to unlock the potential of fish production throughout East Africa in a sustainable and profitable way, combining powerful aquaculture solutions with market requirements. Our partnership brings a localized mix of knowledge, practical skills and technology to the table. Jointly, we enable fish farmers to overcome farming constraints and become profitable aquaculture entrepreneurs.
We believe the potential of aquaculture in East-Africa can only be unlocked by working together. Using the strengths of the combined partners, FoodTechAfrica supports actors along the entire value chain, from fish feeds, fingerlings and production system to the training of farmers. The concrete impact of the program is visible in the local communities. Improved production, access to fitting nutrition and job opportunities have effectively changed lives. For more information visit: https://foodtechafrica.com
About African Parks: African Parks is a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. African Parks manages 22 national parks and protected areas in 12 countries covering over 20 million hectares in Angola, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. For more information visit www.africanparks.org.
Akagera National Park
In 2010, African Parks and the Rwandan government (RDB) signed a 20-year agreement for the management of Akagera National Park. Since the agreement, the park has seen a dramatic resurgence of wildlife and biodiversity, through careful management and effective and impactful engagement with communities to ensure economic and social benefits from conservation. Food production and land use is a key conservation issue, and addressing the nutritional and economic needs of communities is key to preservation of biodiversity. For more information visit: https://www.africanparks.org/the-parks/akagera
Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) helps entrepreneurs and organisations to invest, develop and expand their businesses and projects, both in the Netherlands and abroad. RVO is a government agency that carries out the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate policy, helping entrepreneurs, NGOs, knowledge institutes, policymakers and organisations by supporting entrepreneurship, improving collaborations, and strengthening positions through funding and networks.
For more information visit: https://www.rvo.nl
SHV is a 126 years old family-owned, decentralised company active in energy distribution (SHV Energy), cash-and-carry wholesale (Makro South America), heavy lifting and transport activities (Mammoet), industrial service provider (ERIKS), animal nutrition and aquafeed (Nutreco), private equity (NPM Capial), testing, inspection and certification (TIC) (Kiwa) and exploration, development and production of oil and gas (ONE-Dyas). Nutreco is actively supporting the Gishanda Fish Farm.
SHV focuses its social responsibility efforts on education, through the internal campaign ‘Start from the Heart.’ Education is seen as making a long-term investment in people and ultimately in communities, enabling people to support themselves. The Gishanda Fish Farm very much fits this purpose.
For more information visit www.shv.nl
Every day, Nutreco’s 12,300 dedicated employees in more than 37 countries across the globe relentlessly pursue our purpose of Feeding the Future in a way that ensures sustainability is front and centre in all we do. Our solutions go beyond nutrition – we provide best-in-class advice and technology to help our customers produce more food, in a sustainable way, to feed our growing population. With over 100 years of experience, Nutreco is a global leader in animal nutrition through our Trouw Nutrition division, and in aqua feed through our Skretting division. Our NuFrontiers team works to identify, develop and invest in next-generation breakthrough innovations throughout the value chain. In 2020, Nutreco had net revenues of €6.4 billion. The company is a subsidiary of SHV Holdings N.V., a family-owned multinational with net sales of €17 billion in 2020.
For more information visit Nutreco.com.
Skretting (Sponsor) Skretting is the global leader in providing innovative and sustainable nutritional solutions and services for the aquaculture industry. Skretting has production facilities in 18 countries on five continents, and manufactures and delivers high quality feeds from hatching to harvest for more than 60 species.
For more information visit: https://www.skretting.com