'Sustainability barometer' to improve tilapia production in Africa
Experts of IRTA research institute of Catalonia have collaborated with the National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries of Egypt (NIOF) and the Senegalese Institute of Agricultural Research (ISRA) to improve tilapia (Oreochromis spp) production sustainability. Under the ITACA project, which ended in December 2015, a specific management plan for six facilities (three from Senegal and three from Egypt) has been designed, with which 20 indicators, such as costs, water use, feed conversion rate, the cost of production or worker training, among others, were defined. By monitoring these parameters, objective data can be obtained to improve the performance of farms and to value them from an economic, environmental and social point of view. Thanks to the collaboration of the engineering firm Inkoa, an automatic monitoring and control system was also launched in two selected farms. To allow the farms to assess by themselves the results of management plans, a "sustainability barometer", a tool that makes it possible for farms to make an easy and quick diagnosis of their economic, environmental and social sustainability, was designed. This tool is open and available on the project website. Among the resources available on the web, there are also management files where different indicators are presented and their importance to assess the evolution of production, as well as proposals for the follow-up. In addition, tutorial videos on recirculation systems, efficient water use, biosecurity and food, among others, can be checked. IRTA notes that the three years of work by ITACA project have provided in-depth knowledge of bottlenecks and difficulties inherent to the cultivation of tilapia in Africa and have helped to devise technological solutions applied to specific circumstances of Senegal and Egypt. "The aim of the project is that the work done can serve as a model to be applied in other African countries," sources from the Catalan Institute highlighted. ITACA project was funded by the African Union and the European Union.