ACF is Africa’s biggest fish producer, supplying the markets of Zambia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The tie-up, subject to official sanction, will be known as Skretting Zambia and will oversee the building of Zambia’s first fish feed production facility in Siavonga, Lake Kariba, close to large fish farms.
“Construction will start most probably in the first half of 2016, as soon as we have received regulatory approval. The plant will be operational before the end of the year,” said Rob Kiers, managing director, Nutreco Africa.
A majority of the 25,000 capacity of the plant, once on stream, will supply ACF’s Zambian and Zimbabwean tilapia farms, said the partners. But the second phase of expansion will see the facility serve farms in the greater South East African region.
The focus initially is on tilapia, which is by far the dominant aquaculture species in the region, said Kiers.
Aquaculture in Zambia
Aquaculture in Zambia is developing rapidly but is being held back by a lack of quality fish feed.
“Consistent supply of good quality feed, generally considered as a prerequisite for sustained growth, is lacking in the region. With our know-how and expertise we will introduce high-quality and competitive fish feed to the market. Zambia is a strong local producer of soy and corn, so the vast majority of ingredients can be sourced locally,” Kiers told FeedNavigator.
He said fish consumption in Zambia and Uganda is traditionally high. “Wild catch dominates the market, but is declining fast. Zambia is currently a large importer of fish, mainly from China. The government fosters the development of local aquaculture to eliminate this import gap. Tilapia farming has shown high single digit annual growth rates in recent years, and is expected to double in the coming decade. We consider the region’s long-term aquaculture prospect as very positive,” he added.
Kiers said the region has several advantages from a sustainability perspective, including local availability of raw materials and abundant water resources: “The introduction of high quality fish feed will further improve sustainability, as it will make tilapia farming more resource efficient.”
Expansion in Egypt
The Zambia move follows Nutreco’s announcement in November last year that it had increased capacity at its tilapia production facility in Egypt.
Skretting also reported that it had started on a five year research collaboration with not for profit group, WorldFish, that it said will support the sustainable development of aquaculture in Egypt.
Nutreco entered Africa in 2001 by acquiring a share of the Egyptian company Hendrix Misr, which came under full ownership in 2013 and was renamed Skretting Egypt.
It also increased its presence in 2014 through a fish feed joint venture in Nigeria.
In November last year, Nutreco told us it ensures investments are not undermined by political upheaval in an unstable region by “investing in good, local management to build the business. But that strategy would apply to all our undertakings globally - whether that business was in China, Ecuador or Egypt, we would take the same approach.”