quaculture has a long history in
Egypt,and been practiced in the
Nile Valley for human consump-
tion since 2500 BC.
In modern history, commercial aquaculture
started in the mid-1950s of the last century,
with the construction of a tilapia farm in 1957.
Since then, aquaculture industry has been
growing at a steady rate until late 1990s.
Afterwards, the industry witnessed an out-
standing growth and substantial development.
As a result, aquaculture production
increased from only 139,389 tonnes in 1998
to over one million tonnes in 2012. While
the production of capture fisheries remained
almost stable at about 300,000 to 400,000
tonnes during the same period.
It is no surprise, therefore, that current
aquaculture production contributes about 75
percent to total fish production in Egypt (see
Sixteen fish groups (seven freshwater and
nine marine/brackishwater species) and one
crustacean species (shrimp), belonging to 12
families, are currently cultured in Egypt.
However, only three fish groups (tilapia,
carps and mullets) represent 95 percent of
total aquaculture production.
Moreover, Nile tilapia alone contributes
over 62 percent percent to production quota.
Traditionally, semi-intensive culture in
earthen ponds has been, and still is being
by far, the most important farming system
in Egypt; contributing about 75 percent to
total aquaculture production, followed by fish
farming in floating cages culture (20 percent).
Pond fertilization and supplemental feeds
are the major nutrient inputs in this system.
However, there has been a gradual shift
from semi-intensive, low input system to
toward more intensive systems which increas-
es the demand for processed feed and fish
seeds. As a result, the fish feed industry in
Egypt has gone parallel to the production
Commercial fish feed industry
Commercial aquaculture feed manufactur-
ing in Egypt started in the early 1990s by the
General Authority for Fisheries Resources
Development (GAFRD), with two medium-
scale fish feedmills.
By 2000, there were only five governmen-
tal mills producing about 20,000 tonnes of
pressed fish feed per year. During the past
decade, the sector has witnessed an outstand-
ing expansion, with a significant engagement
of the private sector.
Recent surveys indicated that there are
nine state-owned fish feedmills and over
50 registered private feedmills distributed
throughout the country, particularly in the
areas of, or close to, the aquaculture produc-
Nonetheless, no accurate official data is
available on the current fish feed production.
However, the current production has been
estimated at about 900,000-1,000,000 tonnes
The production cycle is about six-to-eight
About 80 percent of this production is in the
form of compressed feed while the remaining
20 percent are extruded feeds.
Compressed feeds are generally cheaper
than extruded feeds but they are of lower
quality. The average feed conversion ratio
(FCR) of compressed feed is two compared
to an FCR of 1:1.5 of extruded feeds.
About 95 percent of the produced feeds
contain 25 percent crude protein (CP), while
the remaining five percent contain 30, 32 and
35 percent CP and are generally produced
upon the farmer’s request.
In addition, few tonnes of feed containing
less than 40 percent CP are also produced for
larval feeding or marine fish feeding.
About 90 percent of fish feeds consumed
in Egypt are produced by the private sector,
while only 10 percent is produced by state-
owned holding companies which own nine
mills producing both animal feeds and fish
These manufacturing plants produce both
pelleted and extruded pellets for various
marine and freshwater fish species. The pro-
duction capacities of these mills range from
5000-30,000 metric tones per year, with an
average of about 15,000 tonnes per mill.
There are also more than 200 small-scale
pelleting units, each with an annual production
capacity of 1000 – 4000 tonnes of fish feeds.
These milling units are generally locally
made, and use simple technologies and gen-
erally are not equipped with air driers. The
majority of these pelleting units are not
registered, and therefore, their production is
generally not recorded or reported.
They also offer the service of pelleting
farmers’ feed ingredients.
In these cases, fish farmers buy their own
ingredients, prepare their feed formulae and
just rent the feedmill to manufacture the feed.
This approach leads to 10-15 percent reduc-
tion in feed costs for those farmers.
Between 50 and 99 percent of feed ingre-
dients that are used in aquafeed production in
Egypt are imported.
Egypt is the world’s largest cereal importer,
second only to Japan, at over 18 million
tonnes in 2012. The country also imports 99
percent of soybean cake and 97 percent of
Fish feed industry in Egypt:
constraints and solutions
by Professor Abdel-Fattah M. El-Sayed, Oceanography Department, Faculty of Science, Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt
32 | InternAtIonAl AquAFeed | March-April 2014
soybean seeds, which are the major protein
source for in fish feeds.
The unit price of feed ingredients have
also been sharply increasing during the past
As a result, the prices of processed fish
feeds have skyrocketed during the same
period (see Figure 2). The fish feed industry
in Egypt faces several other challenges and
constraints. These are summarized below.
The following constraints have been identi-
fied as major threats to the development of
the aquafeed industry in Egypt.
• The dependence of the sector on
the importation of feed inputs and
continuous increase of their prices.
Consequently, the prices of processed
fish feeds have been skyrocketing during
the past few years, and are expected to
increase much further
• The rapid growth of aquaculture is
expected to create competition for raw
materials between the aquafeed and the
animal feed industries, which may further
influence the price of feeds
• The use of old, compressed feeds
technology. Compressed feeds lead to
substantial feed waste due to the poor
feed conversion ratio (FCR)
• All feedmills work for six-to-seven
months per year; while permanent
employees get their salaries for the
whole year. This reduces the profit
margins of mill owners and forces them
to reduce permanent employment
• Many fish feedmills lack the basic quality
control standards, with regards to feed qual-
ity, composition, processing, storage, handling
and transportation due to the absence of
governmental monitoring and inspection
• Many fish farmers lack the accessibility to
credit and financial support. As a result,
they purchase the feeds from producers
or traders on credit for higher prices, and
sometimes they receive poor quality feed
Reducing feed costs, increasing feed quality
and encouraging best feed and feeding man-
agement practice require special attention,
due to the critical role that feed cost and qual-
ity plays in supporting the overall performance
of aquafeed sector.
This goal can be achieved through:
• Custom tariffs on imported feed ingre-
dients must be reviewed to reduce the
price of finished feeds
• Aquafeed mills should be routinely
monitored and inspected to assure that
production procedures, feed composi-
tion, packaging, handling, transportation,
storage and hygiene comply with the
international quality control standards
• Capacity building programmes for improv-
ing the skills of feed manufacturers and fish
farmers should be created and sustained
• A thorough survey of the available
conventional and unconventional feed
resources in the Egypt should be
undertaken. An evaluation to establish
their availability, accessibility, chemical
composition, price and nutritional value
for farmed fish should be conducted
• Extension services should be instituted
by the relevant authorities (especially
the General Authority for Fisheries
Resources Development) to improve
feed and feeding management
• The government must undertake
periodic reviews of the animal feed
legislations to ensure coherency and
to reduce/eliminate any overlapping,
redundant and conflicting regulations
• Improving the capacity and technol-
ogy of existing feedmills. As mentioned
earlier, 80 percent of produced feed is in
the form of compressed pellets.
Finally, the use of compressed-type feeds
leads to significant feed waste.
Replacing existing compressors, at least
partially, with modern extruder lines, or add-
ing extruding production lines into current
aqua feedmills should be given considerable
attention in the development plans.
March-April 2014 | InternAtIonAl AquAFeed | 33
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The Role of prebiotics in
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