PROSPECT OF TILAPIA CULTURE IN NIGERIA.

Being the text of the lecture delivered by Mr Remi Ahmed The National President of Tilapia Aquaculture Developers Association Nigeria at the farmers forum of the Fisheries Society of Nigeria 32nd annual conference held at Nnamdi Azikiwe University,Akwa, Anambra State Nigeria between 23rd to 28th October 2017

INTRODUCTION: Tilapia is a native species of Africa, which is widely accepted by African population from decades, robust fish to culture, growing to market desired size in 6 months period. Take low protein diet and give high protein white meat with low fat and less odour. Tilapia is the fish that would solve all the protein problems of developing countries and the increasing demand for fish in the developed world.

CULTURABLE STRAIN:Majorly culture species belong to the genus Orechromis . The number one commercially cultured is Orechromis niloticus. Popularly refer to as Nile Tilapia. Two major improved breeds of Nile Tilapia that grow up to 28-30 per cent faster are great asset to farmers in West Africa and Egypt. These developments are the results of breeding programs in Ghana and Egypt by worldfish and partners to improve two strains of Nile Tilapia. (Orechromis niloticus). Through selective breeding program in Egypt carried out for over ten years, Abbassa strain of Nile tilapia that grows 28 per cent than the most commonly used commercial strain in Egypt.

In partnership with world fish, Water Research Institute (WRI) in Ghana, Akosombo strain was developed. This confers 30 % growth advantage over unimproved Nile Tilapia in Ghana. Nigeria research institute should wake up, to develop Nigerian strain. Abassa strain is not very popular in Nigeria but the time we started applying for Akosombo strain from Ghana, it has lost its vigor. Right now most of our stock came from Asia, particularly from Thailand.

The same worldfish played a major Genetic breed to evolve what is popularly refer to as GIFT Tilapia. This is what we are currently importing from Asia.

TILAPIA HATCHERY: Most of the hatchery in Nigeria today is earthen pond base.  The pond bears different type of hapa depends on the usage. The first set BREEDING hapa. This is where broodstock are stocked at the ratio of 3 females to 1male. The mating takes place here. The fry and eggs are recovered from here to sex reversal hapa and automatic incubator respectively.  To hasten the growth, all male fry are taken to Fingerling hapa where they grow to the size that can go to grow- out or supply to interested farmers as fingerlings.

GROWOUT:   Earthen pond, There are three type rearing systems for Tilapia. Only two of them were adopted in Nigeria. The first preference is pond. Countries like Nigeria where temperature is good, land is in abundant and very cheap, environmental regulations not so strict, abundance water sources. Pond culture is the best. The stocking density should not be higher 2-3fish/cubic meter. To get up to 800gm after 6 -8months, proper fertilization may be necessary.

Second preference is Cages. Temperature is good. There is abundance of water bodies, with high level of Oxygen in most cases. No pollution, No predators.  Most of the lakes, dams, reservoirs and embankments are either government owned or very few belong to private individuals. Most of the Federal Government lakes have been constructed and abandoned for a very long time ago. Best usage been got for many of them now. In the cages, cost of production will be 25 to 40% higher than in pond. We are very comfortable with as much as 75fish per cubic meter. So, the yield of about 37.5kg is possible per cubic meter.

Third and the last preference is Water recirculatory system. It is not advisable to embrace this system in a country where there is no electricity like Nigeria. Cost of production is always higher with as much as 120%.

From different type of systems system adopted all over the world production continue unabatedly. Indonesia in particular report a large increase in production. China held relatively steady. With recent production figures reported by various sources, the global production estimate for 2015 is 5,576,800mt. China continues its position as a single largest producer with over 1,800,000 MT in 2015. Indonesia moved up to the second position with over 1,100,000MT to beat Egypt to third position with over 800,000MT.





The fish need of Nigeria as a nation to compare with countries in sub region of West Africa.

Countries                                                Per capita fish consumption (Kg/yr)

Sierra Leone                                           34.2

Ghana                                                     27.2

Gambia                                                   26.6

Senegal                                                  23.5

Nigeria                                                   17.1

It is still very doubtful if per capita fish consumption of Nigeria is up to 17.1 kg per year.  Even with the catfish, which we are mainly producing, is only for the rich. The imported frozen food is even more expensive. The solution lies in TILAPIA.  If Tilapia is embraced and even when fed primarily with vegetable feed, it will still delivers first class fish protein. Then a cheaper and avoidable protein will be on our table. With cheaper feed, we should be able to return Tilapia to “common mans’ food as it is been done in Ghana. Some farmers are already feeding with plants in Nigeria.

Other reasons why we must produce Tilapia includes:

  • Great business opportunities. USA bill on Tilapia exceeded USD 1billion annually. Per capita consumption of Tilapia in USA increased from 0.5kg in 2009 to 0.65kg in 2010. What then stop us from Exporting our Tilapia to US?.
  • Consumption of Tilapia is not restricted by religious observances as it is Togo and the Hindus which forbid the eating of Catfish and other scale-less fish.
  • Production constraints being reduced and production cost reducing. Sex reversal to convert all fry to male fish will make the Tilapia grows bigger and faster.
  • Markets are still expanding. Latest reports from the FAO(Globefish) released early this month indicate that International Tilapia trade has grown due to demand from the United states and many non-traditional emerging markets. The government of Uganda has started advising his farmers to take advantage of surging global demand and ramp up production. The same government is all over Europe looking for market for his farmer’s Tilapia.
  • Low cost of feed inputs. Tilapia can grow to a market-able size of 250-450gm within eight months, even when fed primarily with vegetable feed.
  • Nigeria has a solid marketing opportunity for Tilapia- Producers, processors and traders. A lot of new jobs are been created with Tilapia culture. Diver, net maker, paddler, Tilapia hawker, Smoked Tilapia plant, Barbecue Sport etc.

Ladies and gentlemen, Tilapia is the fish that will take us to paradise of fish protein and get the country name registered in the export market of fish internationally.

Thank you.

Remi Ahmed.




Tilapia Barbecue

Smoked Tilapia.


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