Integrated fish farming and the efficient use of fresh water in Egypt

With increasing pressure on fresh water supplies in Egypt, aquaculture-agriculture integration is seen as vital. Through the identification and discussion of obstacles, opinions and opportunities, CDI hopes to influence policy and strategy to enhance cooperation and integration.

Limits on fresh water resources

Egypt is confronted with an increasing pressure on its limited freshwater resources as a result of a growing population, economy and agricultural sector. The available freshwater should be used efficiently, that means raising the food production per cubic meter of water. Integrating aquaculture and agriculture by using water first for fish farming and next for irrigation is one way to reach this.

Limits on the growth of fish farming

Fish farming has experienced a fast growth in the past two decades and is responsible for over 50% of the country's fish supply. At present the expansion of integrated aquaculture is limited by (among others) legal and institutional obstacles,  based on different arguments, perceptions and opinions. A debate regarding the right of first use of irrigation water, regarding the amount of water used by fish farming and regarding the quality and usability of the water leaving fish ponds, has been going on for years.

Influencing the policies

Centre for Development Innovation (CDI), Wageningen UR wants to contribute to a more efficient use of available freshwater resources and a better fish supply by influencing the policies and regulations that prevent a wider application of integrated fish farming.   

The need of knowledge

In parts of the world where fish farming has a centuries-old tradition (especially East and Southeast Asia) the activity is often well integrated with agricultural practices. In such systems the waste of one component is an input in another component, resulting in an efficient use of water and nutrients. In Egypt a wider application of such systems is obstructed, largely due to out-dated policies, a lack of hard data and a lack of knowledge about possible forms of aquaculture-agriculture integration.

To identify, to collect, to map

Besides from reliable and hard data with regard to water use by (integrated) fish farms, there is need for a clear overview of perceptions and opinions existing in all relevant stakeholders.

CDI brings together these different types of knowledge by:

  • Making an inventory of the legal and institutional obstacles to fish farming expansion
  • Mapping the opinions and perceptions of important stakeholder groups
  • Doing a pilot study to collect quantitative information regarding the water use and the effects on water quality of a small number of integrated fish farms (use of water from fish ponds as irrigation water in agriculture)

And further towards an integrated strategy

With these inventories and discussions as a base, a strategy is developed with the involvement of the relevant institutions and stakeholder groups. This strategy will lead to better informed opinions about the advantages and disadvantages of aquaculture-agriculture integration, and possibly to the decrease or removal of the institutional and legal obstacles. This will make a wider application of integrated aquaculture possible.