Malawi: Selection programme gives faster growth of indigenous tilapia – Fishupdate.com

Malawi: Selection programme gives faster growth of indigenous tilapia Published:  24 October, 2005

THREE generations of selective breeding have made indigenous tilapia in Malawi grow 15 to 20 per cent better than before. This fish is available to farmers and can become a substantial contributor to fish farmers’ economy and food security.

Malawi is one of many countries in Africa in which food is a scarce resource, and fish is an important part of the diet. Lake Malawi, which used to be rich in fish, is now suffering from over fishing, and yield is decreasing.

Based on knowledge gained from the successful GIFT programme in the Philippines, a corresponding breeding programme has now been set up in Malawi. A genetically improved indigenous species, Oreochromis shiranus, will give farmers greater yield for the same amount of input. Malawian PhD student Alfred Maluwa at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences/AKVAFORSK has worked with this programme for three generations of selective breeding, along with his supervisor Dr. Bjarne Gjerde from AKVAFORSK. Mr Maluwa is finishing his PhD thesis this month, and he intends to present promising test results from the programme.

The fish have been tested at three different sites in Malawi with highly different climates. After three generations of testing and selection, we now see a great improvement in growth from about 70 grams (parental population) to 85 grams (F3 generation) after a 6-month growing period. For a species such as tilapia, this is rapid progress, with a generation interval of only one year.

Maluwa also found that although the fish grew best in the low humid and hot areas, the fast growing fish in these hot areas also grew fast in the cool highlands. This means that it is not necessary to breed different strains for different sites in Malawi.

The aim of the breeding programme is to provide fish farmers with continuously genetically improved fish.

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