soybean field

USSEC India Invited to World Tilapia Conference 2015

USSEC recently participated in the World Tilapia Conference. USSEC Director for Animal Feed and Soy Meal Program - India Dr. P. E. Vijay Anand was invited to the conference, which was conducted by INFOFISH/Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on April 2,3 and 4, to provide an update on tilapia farming in India.
INFOFISH was launched in 1981 as a project of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Since 1987, it has functioned as an intergovernmental organization providing marketing information and technical advisory services to the fishery industry of the Asia-Pacific region and beyond from its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Fourteen countries are currently members of INFOFISH, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Thailand.
Although India ranks second in the world’s farmed fish production, tilapia, the second most popularly farmed fish in the world, has not yet caught on there.

A genetically modified tilapia strain from Thailand at an Indian farm
A genetically modified tilapia strain from Thailand at an Indian farm

Dr. Anand said that conference organizers were curious to understand India’s status for tilapia and added that tilapia production is a great business opportunity for all parties, including U.S. Soy. In his address, “Why Tilapia for India?,” he stated that a versatile fish species without intramuscular bones is desired by modern consumers in India, who need a convenient fish that is easy to cook, has a mild odor, firm flesh and other attributes that fit their life style. Tilapia is a fish that readily fits this bill. On the farming side, tilapia is one of the most efficient feed-taking species and can be fed with a soy-maximized diet. This ideal species supports integrated farming, processing operations and the USSEC-recommended Intensive Pond Aquaculture (IPA) system in India. Additionally, cage farming is in a rudimentary stage in India, offering a great opportunity for aquaculture and tilapia. Dr. Anand reminded the audience and potential investors that India is losing revenue and opportunities every day by not producing this species in adequate quantities. Based on projects that USSEC has manned successfully, he added that it is not difficult for India to initially produce 100 thousand metric tons (TMT) of this species and gradually raise it to 500 TMT. This, he said, will render additional business to feed mills and use up some more soy in feeds.

Dr. Anand speaks to conference attendees
Dr. Vijay Anand speaks to conference attendees

Tilapia was originally banned in India because it was considered an exotic species and there was fear that the species would be an environmental threat. USSEC worked with the industry explaining to them why tilapia would be a good fit for India. Based on industry requests, the Indian government has now permitted breeding and farming of a genetically improved variety of tilapia under restricted conditions. Some differences in policy between the federal and state governments still pose procedural hindrances for a faster adoption of this species in India. According to Dr. Anand, many aquaculture entrepreneurs in India are working with the government on this aspect and the species will soon take to commercial pathways and quantities.
Dr. Kevin Fitzsimmons, Director of International Programs at the University of Arizona who has spent more than 35 years working in the tilapia field, provided the key note address at the conference, telling the audience how USSEC is well-connected to world aquaculture through various initiatives, extension works and applied research which have made beneficial changes.

Tilapia 2015 participants
Tilapia 2015 participants
Dr. Vijay Anand and Dr. Kevin Fitzsimmons at the World Tilapia Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Dr. Anand and Dr. Kevin Fitzsimmons at the World Tilapia Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia