Rwanda’s fishing industry is limited by the country’s landlocked location and by a fragmented market structured for self-consumption. However, Minister of Agriculture Dr. Agnes Kalibata is keen on developing the sector, and recently sent four officials to Vietnam–which has a largely fisheries-based economy–to identify best practices and effective industry standards. Private sector projects will also make the industry more profitable. Aquaculture firms like Lakeside Fish Farm aim to prove that commercially successful fish farms can be built and operated in Rwanda, meeting a demand for healthy protein in a market threatened by food security.
I came across two boys poised stoically on a wooden plank jutting out towards the deep waters of Lake Burera (northern Rwanda). Their father was fishing in a wooden dug-out a few hundred meters away. I saw on their faces that afternoon a calm determination to persevere. In a region more populated than any other in Africa, where the World Bank’s definition of poverty – earning under a dollar a day – is ubiquitously apparent, these boys are making the most out of very shared resources. They’ll soon walk their catch of baby tilapia a few kilometers to the local market, where each will sell for 300 francs (50 cents). When they sell 6 fish a day, they’re pulling in $3 and sitting well above the World Bank’s poverty line.