July 28, 2020


USSEC: Pakistan aquaculture sector shows great potential to support national food security



Pakistan's aquaculture industry has seen consistent year over year growth for nearly 20 years - making it a ripe target for supporting the country's food security requirements, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Following US Soybean Export Council's (USSEC) programming and advice, a Pakistani aquaculture company has successfully installed and commenced operations for the country's third set of In Pond Raceway System (IPRS) technology, a production system designed to intensify and optimise fish production.

USSEC introduced the technology in Pakistan through training seminars and subject matter experts. From there, USSEC targeted two early adopters with whom to build pilot projects in 2019. Using lessons learned from the pilot projects, Jarwar Farm, located south of Punjab Province, became the third adopter of the USSEC-supported technology to install the system in their operations. The government of Pakistan lifted the restrictions imposed on construction and allied industries due to COVID-19 on April 16, allowing them to start their construction work under strict protective measures. With this news, the project was able to greenlight groundbreaking and finish construction.

The original pilot projects also acted as experimental demo sites, as soy-based floating feed is promoted to show the potential earnings and efficiencies that can be gained by using the technology. In 2017-18, the aquaculture sector in Pakistan produced approximately 185 tonnes of fish in pond systems, and is currently producing approximately 200 tonnes.

The impact on US soy will be in the increased production efficiencies of IPRS, which will create additional demand for US soybean meal, used at a 15-25% inclusion rate for the floating fish feed, USSEC said. IPRS is a step toward the modernisation of Pakistan's aquaculture sector, which would help to enhance the production efficiency in the sector and ultimately will play a vital role to create growth in demand for US soy.

According to USSEC, it was able to markedly demonstrate a myriad of efficiency gains, including: improved fish production per unit area, six to eight times more than the conventional culture method (75-150kg per cubic meter); reduction in net production cost per unit of fish produced; decreased feed conversion ratios (FCR) of nearly 1: 1.1 to 1.4; 100% fish harvest rate without water discharge from pond; increased biosecurity, with reduced disease prevalence and pharmaceutical needs; improved nutrient management, with 40% of manure being able to be used for fertiliser; minimal water discharge for environmental protection and sustainability of natural resources; and harvest procedures and cost of labour for fish movement being simplified and greatly reduced.

"The owners of Jarwar Farm visited the USSEC demo site and were very impressed with the results," said Kamran Maqsood, owner of Punjab Fish Farm, an early adopter of the technology and design/construction consultants on the project. "As a result, they decided to install their own IPRS system to enhance production capacity and efficiency."

Initially starting at five cells, Jarwar now intends on installing ten more soon.

"I think this project exemplifies the USSEC spirit from beginning to end," said Kevin Roepke, USSEC regional director (South Asia).

"It started with technical trainings and seminars, evolved to an experimental pilot project and now is really beginning to scale. Even during the coronavirus pandemic and a construction cessation, we are still pushing science-based technologies forward to advance global food security."