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Since the 1980’s, tilapia aquaculture has expanded rapidly in Egypt, making it now Africa’s largest tilapia producer and the third largest in the world. In recent years, genetically improved Nile tilapia strains contributed important catalysts in these advancements. Providing superior growth rates and more efficient feed conversion, the release of the Abbassa strain in 2013 has since triggered an accelerated growth in national production. Despite this, concerns have been voiced over current trajectories of market development. Some claim pricing and value chain arrangements are leading farmers to target higher income by harvesting larger tilapia grades that fetch higher profit per kg of fish. Meanwhile, recent periods of political instability have produced major fluctuations in food markets and meat prices in particular. Economic pressures have affected resource-poor groups more significantly, with reports indicating malnutrition rates rising among lower-income communities in governorates beyond the Lower Delta fish-farming areas. In response, this study addressed three questions; 1) what are the current patterns of tilapia consumption among resource-poor households, and do these patterns differ by gender, wealth or location?; 2) what are the tilapia trait preferences among resource-poor households and do they differ by sex, wealth or location? Using a purposively stratified sampling strategy, 474 female and 265 male lead respondents were interviewed from 739 households selected from Lower, Upper and metropolitan Egypt. Across the sample, less than half of households (49.8%) reported fish expenditure in previous week. Among these fish-consuming households, a significant majority reported consuming of tilapia (83.7%). This proportion differed remarkably between regions, with highest frequency in Lower Egypt (75.9%), followed by Metropolitan Egypt (39%) and Upper Egypt (24.4%). According to stated preferences, traits highest ranked included size, followed by width and length preferences. These scores differed more significantly by location and socioeconomic status groups than by gender, though significant heterogeneity between women and men preference was found with body length, head and tail attributes. More women preferred larger head and larger tail traits. A generalized linear model was used to assess associations between social characteristic and these trait preferences. Model predictors were chosen based on spearman rankings that identified significant correlations with household size, educational status, gender, and gender-equity indicators including women’s income control and leadership (P≤0.001). Significant associations were observed between smaller tilapia preferences and presence of young children, age of mother and women’s leadership scores (P<0.01). However, inverse relationships were found with household size (P≤0.05) suggesting need for triangulation of results with qualitative data . In addition, comparing expenditure data and preference variables, results contrasted significantly in terms of tilapia sizes . These findings offer methodological and empirical recommendations to gender-responsive and pro-poor tilapia breeding programs. These relate to methodological debates over ‘stated’ vs ‘revealed’ preference research, over value of mixed methods approaches, and the issues of reconciling between locality and representativeness in gender research.

Murphy, Seamus
Charo-Karisa, Harrison
Rajaratnam, Surendran
McDougall, Cynthia
Cole, Steven Michael
Nasr-Allah, Ahmed
Al-Kenawy, Diaa Abdel Raheem
Van Brakel, Martin
Social Sciences