Uganda and Tanzania have taken over the Democratic Republic of Congo’s fish market from Rwanda, which is grappling with weak domestic production.

DRC is a huge fish market, with eastern part, North and Southern Kivu, consuming 100,000 tonnes annually.

Rwanda, with its struggling domestic fisheries, has found difficulty in raising the required quantities to satisfy the DRC fish demand, according to the latest export data by the National Agricultural Export Development Board (Naeb).

The data shows that from July 2017 to March 2018, Rwanda’s fish export volumes increased to seven million Kgs, from 6.5 million Kgs reported over the same period in 2016-2017. These earned Rwanda Rwf15.7 billion ($18 million) compared with Rwf10 billion in 2016-2017 — a 54.98 per cent growth in earnings. However most of the fish was imported from Uganda and Tanzania, then re-exported to DRC.

DR Congo is Rwanda’s leading regional fish market, accounting for 99.91 per cent of the exports, while 0.03 per cent was exported to Burundi.

“The big quantities of fish have their origin in Uganda and Tanzania and re-exported to DRC,” according to Naeb trading statistics.

Wilson Rutaganira, a fisheries consultant, says Rwanda could reverse its position a net importer of fish when authorities incentivise fisheries to boost production through subsidies.

The biggest challenge Rwanda faces is the shortage of quality affordable fish feed, with officials estimating that it accounts for 65 per cent of farmers’ production costs.

It costs between $1.3 (Rwf 1,126) and $1.5 (Rwf1,300), per kg depending on protein content.

Comparatively, feed in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania is cheaper.

“Government should also shift attention to fisheries like it is doing to crop and livestock farming,” said Dr Rutaganira.

In its move to boost crop production, the government foots 50 per cent of the irrigation equipment. Experts suggest, that the government also foots 50 per cent of the cost of quality feed to make it affordable.

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