Cameroon’s fish farmers shaking up the market [+video]

Reuters | Wriggling red tilapia, swimming to the surface.

Fisherman Boris Kamgo hopes these fish, farmed on the palm-fringed Dibamba river in Cameroon, will help curb the country’s dependence on frozen imports

Spicy grilled fish served whole is one of Cameroon’s de facto national dishes, but around half of the some 500,000 tonnes of fish consumed per year is bought from abroad, while the rest is almost all wild-caught.

He’s part of a new government-backed aquaculture movement seeking to grab a larger share of the ever-growing market for fish in the country of more than 20 million people.

The 32-year-old has travelled to China, the Netherlands and Vietnam to learn how to raise red tilapia and Pangasius- a breed native to Asia- that he realised would thrive in Central African waters.

“With this I think we can conquer the market, as filet it exports a lot, America buys a lot of it, Europe as well, and now we need to develop a fish that will feed us and earn money.”

Market dominance is a distant dream, but fish farming is on the rise across Cameroon with over 10,000 tonnes produced in 2020 compared with 5,000 tonnes in 2018, according to the fisheries ministry.

Kamgo is also eager to share his expertise.

“We train our students here, this is a system I put together with retrieved local materials to train my students to reproduce the fish. Because where I trained, the technology is more advanced, we can’t find that material here, so I decided to make a local system that can train people, enabling them to recreate it on their own.”

The government removed all customs duties on imports of aquaculture equipment to encourage the sector to scale up further earlier this year.

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