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Increased productivity in Ghana from fast-growing Nile tilapia

An improved breed of Nile tilapia that grows 30% faster than non-improved strains is helping to increase aquaculture productivity and food security in Ghana.

The Water Research Institute (WRI), in partnership with WorldFish, has developed the Akosombo strain of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) that grows 30% faster than its wild ancestors. This means greater income for farmers who can produce more fish per year, and save both time and money on labor and fish feed costs. A rise in productivity also increases food security by making fish available and affordable for over 170,000 Ghanaians who rely on fresh fish from the Volta basin.

The Akosombo strain is having significant economic benefits for the aquaculture industry in Ghana. “The response is phenomenal, the tilapia industry in Ghana is booming with the new Akosombo strain. Most of the hatcheries have adopted the new strain as their brood stock, and are producing fingerlings for the whole industry. At the current pace, tilapia production in Ghana is projected to increase tenfold by 2015”, says Dr. Attipoe, the manager at WRI. WRI was awarded winner of the National Best Agricultural Researcher Award during the 28th National Farmers Day 2012 celebration in Ghana for the development of the Akosombo strain and their work to increase the productivity of fish farming in the Volta Basin.

An increase in productivity is expected to result in greater availability of Nile tilapia in local markets, reducing the price of the fish and making it more accessible to poor consumers.  Fish contain micronutrients essential for a balanced diet, and increasing the availability and affordability of Nile Tilapia will contribute to food and nutrition security in Ghana.

Dr. Attipoe says that the Akosombo strain is also benefiting the West African sub-region with surplus fish exported to La Côte d'Ivoire and other neighboring countries. “Burkina Faso and Nigeria have all been here to take improved strains to culture in their home countries. We are impacting the subregion,” he adds.

Release and dissemination of the Akosombo strain is being done after rigorous scientific testing against local stock, and a careful assessment of the local environment for potential risks of releasing the improved breed of Nile tilapia.

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WorldFish, a member of the CGIAR Consortium, is an international, nonprofit research organization. CGIAR is a global partnership that unites organizations engaged in research for a food secure future.

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Holly Holmes

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