January 11, 2013
Philippines to push for Red Nile Tilapia propagation
Following consumer preference for fish with such colour, a Philippine government programme is under way to push propagation of Red Nile Tilapia.
This is according to the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) in a statement last Monday (Jan 7).
"The red colour seems to catch the fancy of fish consumers. The red sea bream, red snapper and grouper all command good market but are highly priced," said PCARRD, which is attached to the Department of Science and Technology (DoST).
The council described Red Nile Tilapia as "a cheaper alternative" for Filipino consumers. Addressing this preference of fish consumers, the government has launched the PHP19.9-million (US$2,000) three-year "Genetic Enhancement of the Red Nile Tilapia" project under the National Tilapia Research and Development Programme that aims to make the variant a major component of tilapia production by 2016.
The project is funded by DoST, coordinated by PCARRD and implemented by The Central Luzon State University-Freshwater Aquaculture Centre (CLSU-FAC).
Among others, the project aims to improve the growth potential of the Red Nile Tilapia, which is developed from the Nile Tilapia. Three red variants -- Taiwanese, Florida and Israeli red -- were introduced in the Philippines from Singapore in 1978, but industry expansion has been slow due to lack of readily available fingerlings and slower growth compared to the Nile Tilapia. PCARRD attributed this slow growth to genes from the Mozambique Tilapia.
CLSU-FAC produced the Red Nile variant by breeding the faster-growing Nile Tilapia with blond phenotypes from the Institute of Sterling in the UK in order to get the right colour.
The programme is also exploring the use of carotenoids -- pigments in plants -- to enhance pigmentation in the skin and flesh of the fish, an approach which has worked for trout, salmon and ornamental fish, the statement read.
So far, adding carotenoids taken from four natural sources -- annatto seeds, tomato, carrots, and yellow corn -- to a formulated tilapia diet has shown some promise for improving the colour of the Red Nile Tilapia, PCARRD said.