Alltech Pakistan in association with University of Education-Lahore and Nutritionist Association Pakistan (NAP) conducted a virtual Aqua Feed Consultative Meeting on Wednesday, March 31, 2021. The meeting was arranged to discuss in depth the challenges of Aqua Feed Industry, specie specific feeding, local raw material evaluation, Aqua feed quality and traceability and Aqua Feed Act. The meeting was presided by Prof. Dr. Talat Naseer Pasha (S.I) Vice Chancellor, University of Education-Lahore and Dr. Shahzad Naveed Jadoon, Director /CEO, Alltech Pakistan acted as moderator. An active participation was made by feed millers, farmers, stakeholders and academicians.
Prof. Dr. Talat Naseer Pasha (S.I) Vice Chancellor, University of Education-Lahore opened the house stating that aquaculture is progressing in Pakistan and embracing scientific knowledge with increased commercialization. He said it is a multidisciplinary project that has key associated roles of biologist, fish experts but likewise other food sectors, role of nutritionist is very integral in its supply chain. He further added that there is enormous potential in this sector. He emphasized that collaborations for working and knowledge sharing will be vital for the farmers and growth of the industry. He said that the foundation of the industry should be purely on science and shouldn’t hold any myth/misconception right from the start. Farmers and Consumer education plus awareness need to be prioritized. He added that universities can facilitate with Aqua feed research facility which can work in collaboration with feed industry to carry out need based research and provide solutions supported with scientific knowledge and create professionals with hands on experiences. He appreciated the aqua feed consultative meeting and said that is timely arranged professional activity and will be fruitful in defining solution locally.
Prof. Dr. Saima, Chairperson, Dept. Animal Nutrition UVAS in her opening remarks stated that Aquaculture is an emerging sector and the potential can be amplified if the reservoir will be explored for fish farming. She said farmers are unaware of how to use these reservoir for aquaculture. She added that there is a need to maximum educate farmers, create awareness and conduct trainings about feeding balance rations, farm practices and marketing in order to improve productivity and produce quality protein. Furthermore, she shared that nutrigenomics, feed quality, toxins and feed alternatives are least addressed so far. However, there are some research trials in loop to study these aspect.
Dr. Atif Yaqoob, Chairperson Dept. of Zoology GCU joined the meeting and shared the research trends in aquaculture and highlighted that pathology/Fish diseases relevant studies are very scarce and there is need that industry should align their focus towards this topic as well. He mentioned that the university has ongoing trial to explore alternative raw material for fish feed. He admired Alltech for organizing such workshop and activities that are helpful to forward in research arenas by brainstorming and stirring new ideas.
Dr. Shahzad Naveed Jadoon shared agenda and opened the discussion with the challenges in aqua feed industry and invited the feed manufacturer to shed light on this area and share their experiences.
Dr. Arslan Production Manager, Hi-Pro Feeds shared that the day by day increasing raw material prices are currently the major challenge that limit the feed miller to produce cost effective feed. High price feed is unaffordable for the farmer because they couldn’t get premium price in the market and results in prolonged feed credits. He stated that there is a need to explore local raw materials that could be beneficial in reducing the cost and producing quality fish feed.
Dr. Rehan Ashraf, Assistant BDM Alltech Pakistan while sharing his experience in aqua feed industry mentioned that there is a dire need to understand the role of nutritionist as it will allow us to formulate cost effective feed with available raw materials in a well-managed way. He added that to address the credit challenge of the industry, this must be handled as one unit through collaborative working and Also, some standard aqua feed policies need to be put in place.
Dr Muhammad Mudassar Shahzad, Assistant Professor University of Education Lahore shared that major issue with feed quality and traceability is the lack of analysis and resources to monitor the quality of the feed and raw materials. Furthermore, Specie specific feeding concept is missing and monotype feed is used for all stages despite of nutritional needs of fish at different life stages. He highlighted that second major issue is lack of nutrigenomics studies.
Dr. Mehwish Faheem, Assistant Professor Govt. College University Lahore stated that we have inconsistency in nutrition of raw material, this is the reason we are not consistent in final product (feed quality). She stated that the need of the hour to study toxin level in the feed along with nutritional value of feed. She suggested that industry should approach academia and share what are their challenges so academia customize research as per industry needs.
Mr. Nabeel Choudhary, CEO- AMG Feeds elaborated the challenges of aqua feed industry and said that there is need of aqua industry to sit together and discuss way forward. The major obstacle is that the farmer is hooked with the CP level, which is unnecessary and need to be discouraged. Beside this, the Feed millers need to target amino acids profile to formulate aqua feed. He emphasized that the industry should have some standards or polices. He added that collaborative working is need of the hour as the issues can be better resolved in timely manner. He stated that industry has to learn from the other sectors like poultry etc. experiences and define things in primary stages. He added that we need to modernize the farming related knowledge and educate the farmer about improving his profitability.
Dr. Shahzad Naveed Jadoon supported his comment and said that the sustainability of fish farm is linked with its profitability. There is need to think and work in collaborations to create awareness and educate the farmer for sustainable aquaculture.
Muhammad Qayyoum Production Manager Farukh Feeds commented that fish industry is not result oriented so far. There is a need to work on the management practices and water quality as feed quality is directly linked with these factors.
Mr. Javaid Iqbal Sindho, CEO, Tawakal Hatchery said that it is difficult for the feed millers to keep the consistent quality of feed with the increase raw material price challenge. It is important that research should be encouraged and economical quality feed alternatives should be explored. He extended his facilities to run research trials to study and make economical feed.
Responding to Aqua Feed Act suggestion, Prof. Dr. Talat Naseer Pasha (S.I) said prior to this, Aqua industry has to set their norms and standards (SOPs) and prioritize research. He added industry should have dedicated Aqua Research Centers to monitor, learn and customize their approach/product with the changing industry needs. He emphasized that the focus should be aligned toward feed optimization.
Dr. Abdul Ahad Bajwa, UTO- Alltech Pakistan while sharing his experience on Fish farms said that farmers face the challenge of quality feed and often complain about unavailability of on-farm support. He added that feed miller should facilitate the farmers through on farm services.
Muhammad Wasim Khan Fisheries consultant, FAO Pakistan said that at present no mechanism is available to regulate the aquaculture activities. However, FAO has initiated work to set regulations for the aquaculture activities. He added that there are dedicated R&D internationally available where feed mills testify their products. Same model should be repeat here in Pakistan where university and industry should liaison to work on industry need based research.
Dr. Ijaz Yousaf BDM Alltech Pakistan highlighted the need of the Aquaculture Farmer Association. He added that this will help us to work collaboratively to move forward and have a clear roadmap in hand for future.
Dr. Shahzad Naveed Jadoon concluded the meeting with recap of key recommendations, which are given below:
- Collaborative working is a way forward. Aqua Industry Stakeholders, Feed millers, Farmers and Academicians need to sit together to discuss and devise a comprehensive aquaculture plan by collaborating and capitalizing on existing strengths.
- Establishment of SOPs and policies for Feed industry is the need of the hour. The feed industry must set some norms and standards for feed optimization and credit markets. This will ensure the sustainability of the feed industry.
- Aquaculture farmer Association should be formed at the earliest. It is increasingly important that aquaculture industry form an association which will be sole representor of the industry and shall work on a larger scale to bring reforms in the industry.
- Exploration of Feed Alternatives and resources management should be considered to formulate/produce cost effective feeds that will enhance farm productivity and profitability.
- Aqua Research Centers should be made. Industry and Academia should collaborate to strengthen local research and generate industry need based solutions through research.
- Prepare for the intensification, the feed industry should be ready beforehand for the intensive farming related feed challenges. They have to focus on formulating different feed for the fish raised in control farming conditions and must provide additional benefit than nutrition.
- Feed analysis and Fish requirement are the areas that need utmost attention. There is a need to expand the knowledge and facility of feed analysis to the farmers as well as they should be educated about the fish feed requirements at different life stages. Doing this will allow efficient feed conversion and less feed wastage.
- Identification of heavy metals and mycotoxins in rearing water and fish feed should be focused. These can have devastating impact on fish health and can cause serious health issues in humans. Industry-academia need to work in synergy to identify the potential cause and provide some standards for the local industry.
- Record keeping at farm level will enable the farmer to track back the performance of the feed. Fish Farmers should be educated about daily feed monitoring and guided about feed calculations (FCR), only then they will be able to evaluate the feed performance.
- Farm Management Practices and Water Quality are important factors and directly linked with feed quality. Improving farm management practices and water quality will enhance feed utilization, performance and profitability.
- Aqua Nutrition Group should be created. Nutritionists should have a group where they can discuss feed industry related challenges and can customize approach collaboratively.
- Consumer Education and Awareness marketing Programs should be developed. There is a need to generate the market pull for protein like Fish. Consumer should be provided with the comparative benefits of fish with other protein sources like chicken and beef. Social media can serve as beneficial tool in creating consumer awareness locally.