Create and succeed a fish farming business in the DRC

Fish farming is a popular activity in the DRC and around the world. Its popularity stems from the demand for healthy animal proteins.

Today, thousands of people, even young people, are involved in fish farming. The unemployment rate in Congo – Kinshasa is high and fish farming is a business to be ventured into. The goal is to improve the economic situation while meeting the needs of the population. The business opportunity in question has not yet been exploited because the demand for fish exceeds the supply.

If you are a budding entrepreneur or investor looking for a viable business opportunity in investment, fish farming is a good option.

Fish farming in the DRC

Fish farming is the cultivation of fish by artificial means for commercial purposes. It is a form of aquaculture (i.e. aquatic organisms such as fish, molluscs, shrimp, crustaceans and aquatic plants). It involves the breeding and rearing of fish under controlled conditions such as in ponds or tanks.

Fish farming thrives in most parts of eastern DRC and is mostly artisanal. A fish farm is considered to be well planned when the water control structure, the different compartments/pond sizes and other management structures complement each other.

Types of fish farming

There are different types of fish farming in Congo – Kinshasa which will be explained in the following paragraphs:

The fish hatchery

It is an artificial way to reproduce fish. It is a process of hatching, rearing and growing fish through the different stages of the life cycle.

It involves the collection of injected broodstock eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae and then into fry, before becoming small fish.

Basically, broodstock are kept in the maturation tanks until their seeds can be used to produce another fish.

Tilapia fish farming

Tilapia is one of the common types of fish cultivated in Congo – Kinshasa. It is a warm water fish with a rapid growth rate and is available in larger sizes compared to other fish. Tilapia fish grow in freshwater environments such as streams, ponds, lakes and especially not in brackish water.

Catfish farming

Catfish is the most cultivated fish in the DRC. It can be raised on a small or large scale. Catfish farming involves the creation of ponds, the rearing of fry or the juvenile stage at maturation.

Other common types of farmed fish are:

  • Ornamental fish also called aquarium fish. They are beautiful, whimsical and very colorful.
  • The crab, their growth rate is very fast and is in high demand in the market.
  • Shrimp, the market demand for shrimp is high. It can be cultivated on a small or very large scale.
  • Salmon: these are carnivorous fish and are also raised in commercial quantities.
  • Carp are omnivorous fish and are farmed in large quantities.

Now that we have a good basic knowledge of what fish farming is all about, let’s move on to the start-up stages of your fish farm.

The steps to create and succeed in fish farming business

1) The business plan

The first step in any business is to create a business plan. This is a very crucial part of creating your business. Writing a business plan requires conducting a feasibility study, documenting goals and objectives. Also the realization of market studies necessary to find out what can be achieved.

2) Register your company

Once the business plan is created, the next step is to register your business. By registering your business, you become one of EWC’s certified business owners. You can take advantage of all the benefits that are available to registered businesses.

Therefore, you must register with OneStop Business Start-Up. This is the agency in charge of business registration in Congo – Kinshasa. Depending on the type of ownership, you can register as an incorporated entity or as a sole proprietor.

3) Get training

Fish farming is a knowledge-based industry that requires adequate training or experience to operate effectively. Fish farming is more than just putting juveniles in the water and feeding them. It requires technical skills to achieve optimum performance.

Training helps you identify healthy fish, prevent disease outbreaks, understand the type of medication and when to administer it.

In addition, when you are trained, you will know the correct diet and ration to feed the fish. Overall, the training will teach you the practical knowledge of the company.

You can learn from a practicing fish farmer or take practical courses at tested training centers. Of course, you can learn through online courses, but it is better to learn from a farmer or breeder.

4) Location

It is impossible or even rare to catch fish in the air, you absolutely need land. For fish farming, you can buy land, rent or reserve a small amount of space in your concession.

The size of space you need will depend on the balance you wish to use. Regardless of the scale, make sure you have a spacious plot of land that can accommodate the pond.

5) Building a pond

Once set, the next step is to build a pond. Water ponds for fish are usually rectangular or circular in shape with varying sizes. The choice of pond depends largely on the size of the land, location, water resources, scale of production, etc.

There are different types of fish ponds:

  • The earthen fish pond
  • The concrete fish pond
  • Plastic Fish Pond
  • Fiberglass Fish Pond
  • The caged fish pond
  • The synthetic leather fish pond
  • The wooden fish pond / tarpaulin

6) The water system for your fish farm

Water is essential for a fish. Once the fish is out of the water, it cannot survive too long. Fish can never be grown without water, so you need a reliable water supply.

Natural water that is free of chemicals and waste products such as feed is considered more appropriate for a fish farming operation. You can create a fodder with a suspended tank as a reservoir.

In addition, you must consider how the water system can be connected to the ponds, i.e. the water inlet and outlet installation. It must be constructed in such a way that waste water can be drained off and fresh water can be supplied daily.

If wastewater is not drained and replaced with fresh water on a permanent basis, this can lead to fish mortality, which will cause you to lose your investment.

7) Storage

The fish are stocked in different sizes; fry, post-fry or juvenile.

You can decide which size to farm but the most common fish that becomes the size of the table within three months is the juvenile fish.

You can start hatching or you can buy them from a hatchery and put them in your pond. Just make sure you choose healthy species so that you don’t start to suffer the death of the fish.

8) Feeding

The next step is to feed the fish once or twice a day. What you put in is what you get in terms of food. For example, a well-fed fish can be good for harvest in about 2-3 months.

When you feed the fish, the size of the fish determines the type of food. For example, catfish fry in hatcheries are fed finely ground meal or meal-type feeds containing 45 to 50 percent protein. While larger fry are fed small floating pellets (1/8 inch diameter) containing 35 percent protein.

As they grow, the ration increases. In addition, antibiotics can be mixed in their feed combination.

A fish can be fed in two ways:

Diffusion feeding: this involves going around ponds to spread floating feed for the fish. It is mainly done for fry to fish in the post-juvenile stage.

Spot feeding: this involves feeding the fish in one place. This can be done after 2 to 3 weeks of storage of juvenile fish. This way you can monitor how the fish eat.

However, you have to make sure that the fish are not over-fed as this can lead to a loss in the business.

9) Harvesting

As long as you feed the fish enough, they become marketable after about 2 to 3 months. Farmed fish of marketable size can be harvested in two ways: from drained water or from a filled pond.

In addition, you can do a partial harvest by catching the larger fish to increase the living space and make the pond more habitable for the smaller fish.

For a general harvest, it is advisable to start your harvest early in the morning when the weather is cool. Start draining the water by opening the drain valve if it is a constructed pond or by using water pumps for earthen ponds. Then use a basket to take the fish out into another prepared pond. You can also use harvesting nets.

10) Marketing

The market opportunity for the fish sector in the DRC is enormous. For example, the Congolese consume about 500 thousand tons of fish per year. In addition, the demand for fish far exceeds current production.

Therefore, selling your fish will never be a problem as long as awareness is created. It is advisable to start your marketing before the fish is harvested.

To create an awareness price, the online space must be well used. Then approach hotels, bars, cafes, public event organizers and homes.

Similarly, you can have them smoked, packaged and distributed in supermarkets, stores and other small stores where customers are sure to frequent.

Contact and partner with other fish farmers who have a huge demand beyond what they grow.