Fish All Year Round

Economy of Belarus - - FRONT PAGE -

Fish is a high-qual­ity sta­ple prod­uct. In the past the Be­laru­sians prac­ticed “fish” Thurs­days. To­day they give pref­er­ence to meat which can­not be a full re­place­ment of fish. Fish con­sumed in Be­larus is mostly im­ported from other coun­tries. Fish grown do­mes­ti­cally, which is the most valu­able and fresh, ac­counts for an av­er­age of about 10% of the mar­ket. This is de­spite the fact that Be­larus ranks high in the world in terms of fresh­wa­ter sup­ply. The fish­ing in­dus­try de­vel­op­ment pro­grams im­ple­mented over the past years have clearly had an im­pact. For ex­am­ple, many ponds that be­came shal­low and over­grown with reeds were cleared, new pro­cess­ing plants were opened, pro­duc­tion of valu­able fish species re­vived and boosted. How­ever, fish farm­ing con­tin­ues to be marginal in con­trast to, for ex­am­ple, hog and poul­try in­dus­tries. The draft Agri­cul­ture De­vel­op­ment Pro­gram in the Re­pub­lic of Be­larus for 2016-2020, with the fish farm­ing sub­pro­gram, is cur­rently un­der re­view. Will Be­larus be able to ramp up fish pro­duc­tion with­out in­creas­ing the num­ber of farms? Will the in­dus­try be able to re­duce pro­duc­tion costs and, fi­nally, be­come cost ef­fec­tive?

In Be­larus and Around the World

Fish ac­counts for over 17% of the world con­sump­tion of an­i­mal pro­tein. It is a source of omega-3 and omega- 6 polyun­sat­u­rated fatty acids. Ac­cord­ing to the FAO, peo­ple have never eaten as much fish as they do to­day. In 2012 an­nual per capita fish con­sump­tion ex­ceeded 19kg and con­tin­ues to grow.

In­ter­na­tional ex­perts ar­gue that the in­ter­est in aqua­cul­ture, i.e. cul­ti­va­tion of fish in ar­ti­fi­cial con­di­tions, will keep grow­ing. Ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates, by 2030 aqua­cul­ture will ac­count for about two thirds of fish pro­duc­tion. Fish re­sources of oceans and in­land wa­ters have reached the sus­tain­abil­ity limit and are not likely to in­crease sub­stan­tially. In terms of aqua­cul­ture the pro­duc­tion of “econ­omy class” fresh­wa­ter species such as tilapia, carp and cat­fish is pro­jected to in­crease the most while the pro­duc­tion of more ex­pen­sive salmon species will de­pend on the mar­ket ca­pac­ity and the ef­fec­tive­ness of dis­ease con­trol of th­ese fish.

China is the world’s lead­ing pro­ducer of fish and fish prod­ucts, ac­count­ing for about 18% of the world’s catch and more than 60% of the global aqua­cul­ture pro­duc­tion. Other ma­jor man­u­fac­tur­ers in Asia are Bangladesh, Viet­nam, In­dia, In­done­sia, Myan­mar, Thai­land, the Philip­pines, and Ja­pan. Nor­way is the leader in Europe, Chile in the Amer­i­cas. Large man­u­fac­tur­ers also in­clude Rus­sia, the United States, and Peru.

In Be­larus, the share of fish in the meat-to-fish ra­tio is de­creas­ing, from 23% in 2005 to 14.3% in 2014. It is not the re­duc­tion in fish con­sump­tion that is to blame but rather the in­crease in meat con­sump­tion. The share of meat in hu­man nutri­tion has risen from 62kg to 90kg per per­son per year. Fish con­sump­tion varies from 12.6kg to 18.6kg. By the way, ac­cord­ing to the Health Min­istry rec­om­men­da­tions, the share should be be­tween 16kg to 24kg de­pend­ing on age and physique. It turns out that Be­larus has al­most reached the rec­om­mended lev­els and is on par with such coun­tries as Ger­many, the United King­dom and Fin­land, ahead of many coun­tries in East­ern Europe and the for­mer Soviet Union.

Fish pro­duc­tion in Be­larus and in the world is mainly of two types: aqua­cul­ture and fish­eries. Ma­jor fish farms in the coun­try are spe­cial­ized or­ga­ni­za­tions such as open joint-stock com­pa­nies whose con­trol­ling stakes are owned by the state and are un­der man­age­ment of the Agri­cul­ture and Food Min­istry. They ac­count for about 85-89% of fish pond pro­duc­tion.

The Be­laru­sian mar­ket of fish prod­ucts is di­vided into pre­mi­u­mand econ­omy-class seg­ments.

Ac­cord­ing to the Trade Min­istry, a to­tal of 68,700 tonnes of fish and fish prod­ucts, in­clud­ing 8,100 tonnes of fresh­wa­ter fish, was sold on the do­mes­tic mar­ket in 2015. It ac­counted for 11.8% of the to­tal sales. The preva­lence of oceanic and sea prod­ucts is at­trib­uted to the abun­dance of raw ma­te­ri­als and the ver­sa­tile prod­uct range. The bulk of im­ports are dressed fish or fil­lets which are eas­ier to cook. More­over, they cost 15-30% less than do­mes­tic fish.

In the past the govern­ment had the ex­clu­sive right to im­port pro­cessed fish prod­ucts. With the de­vel­op­ment of co­op­er­a­tion in the Eurasian Eco­nomic Union, this right was abol­ished on 1 Jan­uary 2015.

Be­larus’ ex­port of live fish is in­signif­i­cant. The struc­ture of the fish in­dus­tries in the neigh­bor­ing coun­tries is sim­i­lar. Last year Be­larus ex­ported a to­tal of 183,500 tonnes of fish, in­clud­ing 111,500 tonnes to Rus­sia. The lead­ing sup­plier is Ex­per­i­men­tal Fish Farm Selets. Other mar­kets in­clude, for in­stance, Kaza­khstan, Uzbek­istan, Ar­me­nia, Ukraine, Moldova, Turk­menistan, Poland, and Ger­many.

Fish is pro­cessed by 62 Be­laru­sian com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing 29 spe­cialty firms of dif­fer­ent types of own­er­ship, seven fish-breed­ing farms, 26 district con­sumer so­ci­eties which make part of the Belkoop­soyuz sys­tem. Their to­tal an­nual out­put ex­ceeds 80,000 tonnes of end prod­ucts. Ac­cord­ing to the Agri­cul­ture and Food Min­istry, ocean fish is the main source of raw ma­te­ri­als for in­dus­trial pro­cess­ing. Fresh­wa­ter fish ac­counts for only 10% of the to­tal pro­cess­ing. The coun­try’s fish farms do not im­port fish and work only with do­mes­tic prod­ucts. In 2015 pro­cessed fish ac­counted for 19.8% of the to­tal sales of do­mes­tic fish farms.

The com­pa­nies sell pro­cessed fish abroad as well. The joint Be­laru­sian-Ger­man com­pany Santa Bre­mor is the coun­try’s lead­ing fish ex­porter.

Pond Fish

Aqua­cul­ture ac­counts for 95% of the com­mer­cial fish pro­duc­tion in the coun­try. Pond fish farms make up the core of the sec­tor. They run two- and three-year fish cul­ti­va­tion sys­tems. They pre­dom­i­nantly grow carp. Some 7-9 years ago carp ac­counted for 85-90% of the to­tal pro­duc­tion. To­day this fig­ure stands at 70%. Pond fish farms also grow her­biv­o­rous species such as grass carp, sil­ver carp, big­head and their hy­brids, as well as Euro­pean cat­fish, pike, cru­cian carp, and tench in small amounts.

Carp is the most eco­nom­i­cally sound fish to grow. Its pro­duc­tion makes up 1,200-1,500kg per hectare. Just to com­pare: the catch of sil­ver carp and grass carp on equal ar­eas is 300-500kg, that of cat­fish is 50kg and that of pike is only 20kg.

The joint pro­duc­tion of two or more species of fish (poly­cul­ture) is the ba­sis of mod­ern pond fish farm­ing in the coun­try. It pro­vides for the max­i­mum use of the ex­ist­ing nat­u­ral food po­ten­tial of the pond thanks to fish that do not com­pete for re­sources. Spe­cial­ists say that the poly­cul­ture of­ten im­proves the food re­serve for other species. For in­stance, glass carp eat­ing top aquatic veg­e­ta­tion pro­motes the growth of mi­croal­gae which is the food for sil­ver carp.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Belarus

© PressReader. All rights reserved.