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Investment in Egypt’s aquaculture sector to increase food security and provide employment

Improving Employment and Income through Development of Egypt’s Aquaculture Sector (IEIDEAS)
Project leader
Malcolm Dickson
1 Dec 2011
31 Dec 2014
WorldFish has invested in aquaculture research in Egypt for more than 20 years. Now under the new government in Egypt much effort is needed to address persistent high unemployment and limited economic opportunity for the poor. Investing in the country’s already well established aquaculture industry is one significant area where advances are possible, and WorldFish in collaboration with CARE Egypt, has now commenced a major aquaculture development project.
A recent value chain assessment carried out by WorldFish highlighted the potential to improve the efficiency and productivity of the aquaculture industry. The assessment recognised opportunities to expand the industry in Upper Egypt and to benefit women fish traders and processors. Its findings were the basis for this three-year $6.6 million project, which started in December 2011 with $4.3 million funding from the Swiss Government.
WorldFish Project Leader Malcolm Dickson sees the work as a tremendous opportunity to assist Egyptian fish farmers. “The project comes at a challenging time for the country,” he said. “However its main priority, to provide productive jobs for Egypt’s youth and women, should help to stabilise the livelihoods of thousands of vulnerable households.“
The WorldFish project team will introduce improved fish strains and train small-medium enterprise (SME) fish farmers in best management practices. Meanwhile CARE Egypt will focus on expansion of aquaculture into new districts and assistance for fish marketers.


Egyptian aquaculture has grown rapidly, with annual production reaching 705,000 tonnes in 2009 – up from 57,000 tonnes in 1994. Aquaculture now provides over 100,000 full or part‐time jobs along the value chain from production to final sale, and supports the livelihoods of up to one million family members. Per capita consumption of fish in Egypt rose from 8.5 kg to 15.4 kg/person/year between 1996 and 2008. Population increase and rising consumer search for lower-cost alternatives to expensive meat and poultry are driving this demand.
But productivity levels in the industry are poor, due to many factors including inadequate farm design and construction, poor quality fry and absence of improved tilapia strains, high cost and inefficient use of feed, a short growing season and patchy adoption of best production practices. If the Ministry of Agriculture is to achieve its annual production target of around 1.5 m tonnes by 2017, the sector will need to both intensify production in existing farms and expand in new ones. The goal of this project is to increase employment in Egypt’s aquaculture sector, and it will achieve this by realizing the following objectives:
1. Increased industry sustainability and labor demand by improving profitability through:
     a.superior breeds of tilapia and best practice methodologies for pond production;
     b.higher capacity of farmers to use these improved technologies;
2. Improved effectiveness of producer organizations, particularly through support to farmers in target governorates;
3. Increased employment of women in fish retailing;
4. Increased employment through the expansion of aquaculture in Mineya governorate;
5. Assistance to government agencies to develop policies that support an efficient and sustainable value chain.

Approach to the problem

The project focuses on the two areas of the value chain where employment is highest – production and retailing – and where evidence suggests that targeted investments can increase employment and income from aquaculture. Project members will work with three governorates – Behera, Kafr El Sheikh and Sharkia – that currently lead aquaculture production. The project will also target the governorate of El Fayoum where there is a strong producer association offering good opportunities for growth in production. In a fifth governorate (El Mineya) the project will provide more targeted inputs to support emergence of its present rudimentary aquaculture sector. Project members will also work at the national level to invest in policy development aimed at a creating a more effective enabling environment for efficient and sustainable value chains in the aquaculture sector.

Project outputs

This project has identified investments to achieve sectoral growth through improvements in technology, production processes, marketing and dissemination, institutional arrangements, and capacity development at several levels. Through this integrated approach the project will not only strengthen the aquaculture sector specifically, but also provide broader support to reform of the agriculture sector in Egypt and strengthen the country’s institutional capacities to sustain ongoing change.