Breeding program of Nile tilapia in Ethiopia

This research aimed to optimise the breeding program of Nile tilapia for a smallholder production system in Ethiopia. And thereby contributing to closing the yield gap. Yield gap is a major problem in smallholder production systems.

In this research the PhD student Samuel Bekele identified the most important yield gap factors in Nile tilapia farming. The amount of oxygen that can be dissolved in water is a major environmental factor contributing to reduced growth in fish. There is a reduced feed conversion ratio, a ratio which measuring the efficiency with which the fish convert animal feed into meat. The majority of Nile tilapia production takes place under smallholder production system where dissolved oxygen fluctuation is large.

Genetic correlation between the environment in which the fish are selected and the environment of the smallholder farms in which fish are raised is important to optimizing breeding programs. Breeding programs select fish that perform well in smallholder production systems.

Furthermore Samuel reports genetic parameters for harvest weight, growth and survival in an aerated pond and non-aerated pond. An aerated pond contains is a simple wastewater treatment system with artificial aeration to promote the biological oxidation of the waste water and to offer the fish a healthy environment to live in. The study shows that the genetic correlations between aerated and non-aerated ponds are less than unity. New traits for selection are explored to be used in selection for increased resilience of Nile tilapia, grown in non-aerated ponds. This is the most common production system in Ethiopia.

This work is an important step towards optimizing Nile tilapia breeding programs and contribute to closing the yield gap in smallholder Nile tilapia farms.

You can access the scientific thesis through this link samuel_bekele_mengistu (

amuel’s project is the result of collaboration between the Animal Breeding and Genomics group of Wageningen University and Research and WorldFish. Samuel’s research was supported by a grant of the KOEPON foundation, and the CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems (FISH) led by WorldFish.

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