The Pond fish farming culture was introduced into Rwanda during the Belgium colonial period at around 1925 and there been some improvement in fish farming since then. Rwanda currently has 79 ponds from 10 sites and produces over 17,000 metric tons from ponds.
Market for fish
Local market for fish products is guaranteed as fish has remained on high demand. Currently one kilogram of fish costs about US $3 while the fish fetched better prices in the export market. The prices of fish in the local have been on the increase for the last twenty years and the trend is likely to continue for some years.
Types of fish reared in Rwanda Ponds
The types of fish reared in the ponds include the following;
Pond sites in Rwanda
The key pond sites include the following;
- Kanama Site owned by the government with 40 ponds located in Gisenyi.
- Kazabe Site owned by government of Rwanda with 8 ponds located in Gsenyi.
- Chungo Site owned by a family with 1 (one) pond located in Byumba.
- Mabanza Site owned by cooperative of local men with 4 ponds located in Kibuye.
- Bwafu Site owned by government with only 5 ponds located in Gisenyi.
- Taba Site owned by students of CERAL School with 7 ponds located in Gitarama.
- Gikoro Site owned by local women with 1 (one) pond located in Kigali.
- Birenga Site owned by 17 young adults with 1 (1) pond located in Kibungo.
- Chimbogo Site owned by families that own land of Marais with 8 ponds located in Changugu.
- Bugarama Site owned by a group of scouts with 4 ponds located in Changugu
Matters to consider in fish farming
- Stock only known freshwater species like tilapia and catfish where expertise has been developed.
- Use an expert to assist with live fish transportation from hatcheries and the actual stocking.
- Stock only healthy and disease free fingerlings from established hatcheries.
- Use an expert in preparing the pond or seek expert advice
Harvesting and Marketing Fish
Harvesting is done when the stocked fish have reached a marketable size, determined by customer preferences. Most fish species attain this size between 7 and 12 months of stocking.
Challenges in fish farming
The farmers are faced with the following challenges;
- The aquaculture of fish in ponds and cages are quite expensive.
- Increasing price of feeds as one of the major challenges that fish farmers face.
- Weather also has a strong effect on the fish. For instance when it is hot, the water tends to warm up which retards the fish’s growth.
- Biggest challenge is getting quality feeds for the fish that is reared in both the cages and in ponds.
- Neighboring farms using herbicides on weeds, which are then washed into the ponds when it rains.
- Fish is also eaten by birds, snakes and other predators and this reduces the fish numbers and minimizes the farmer’s income.
- The cooperatives’ management is still fragile and not commercially oriented.
Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI).
MINAGRI trains fish farmers in sustainable fishing methods, conducts watershed protection activities around 17 inland lakes, assists fish farmers in the rehabilitation and creation of fish ponds, rehabilitated Kigembe Fish Hatchery and restocks the country’s lakes and ponds with Tilapia niloticus fish species.
Rwanda Animal Resources Development Authority (RARDA)
Provide farmers and individuals dealing with fish products improved technologies so that fish products fetch more on the market and also coordinate activities of farmers and other individuals dealing with fish products.
Strategic Plan for Agricultural Transformation (SPAT).
The SPTA serves to elaborate and develop the programmes, sub‐programmes and activities that will lead agricultural development and guide implementation as well as forming the basis for a sector wide approach in agriculture.
Rwanda Agriculture Board
RAB transformed aquaculture from non viable subsistence to economically sustainable enterprise as part of food security in the country.
Rwanda Women Aquaculture
Rwanda women have successfully demonstrated their interest and ability to utilize modern aquaculture technology developed and disseminated through the Pond Dynamics and Aquaculture Collaborative Research Support Program. Women fish farmers are most productive and easiest to work within Rwanda.