WRI receives recognition for improved tilapia strain
Story: Sebastian Syme
The Water Research Institute (WRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was adjudge the winner of the National Best Agriculture Researcher award during the 28th National Farmers Day 2012 celebration held at Abokobi in the Greater Accra Region.
An Agriculture research and development team made up of Dr. Seth K Agyakwah, Dr. Joseph Ofori, and Dr. Joseph Padi and led by Dr. Felix Klenam Attipoe (all from the CSIR-WRI) developed the Akosombo Improved Strain of the Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus)
By selecting the fastest growing fish over eight successive generations, WRI has developed the improved Akosombo strain which grows about 30% faster than those in the wild. Normally, tilapia takes eight months to reach maturity from the fingerling stage when they are purchased from hatcheries.
However, under cage culture condition or system, it takes five months for the strain to reach a mean weight of 420 grams from an initial stocking weight of 15 grams.
This means that fish farmers can produce more fish each year. Not only does the Akosombo Strain bring financial reward to the local farmer, but it provides the necessary dietary protein for some 170,000 Ghanaians who rely on fresh fish from the Volta Basin.
The tilapia industry in Ghana is booming with the new Akosombo strain. Most of the hatcheries have adopted the new strain as their brood stock. and are producing fingerlings for the whole industry. At the current pace, tilapia production in Ghana is projected to increase tenfold by 2015.
Ghana now is the nucleus of the breeding programme for the subcontinent providing the best growing materials for the farmers in countries such as Togo, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.
The Akosombo Strain of the Nile Tilapia emerged from the project titled Breeding and selection of Oreochromis niloticus for faster growth, which started in 1999 in collaboration with the worldFish Centre.
WRI is continuing to develop improved strains of tilapia with the support of the TIVO project in collaboration with the FAO of the United Nations.
As the breeding programme grows from strength to strength, the scientist of the WRI will be conducting careful assessments of the potential risks involved with the broad dissemination of the Akosombo strain to fishery. They are also comparing the Akosombo strain with the GIFT strain in bio-secure facilities through partnership with WorldFish Centre and FAO.
Daily Graphic, Monday November 12, 2012 Edition