Marine Science Program Tanzania: towards a breeding program for Tilapia

Last changed: 24 May 2023

The major problem hindering aquaculture development in Tanzania is the lack of good quality fingerlings and quality fish feeds. Fish farmers depend on aquaculture for food as fish provide alternative source of protein and for income as many fish farmers expect profit from the business after investing their resources (money, time etc).

The Sida Marine Science Program provides research and training in skills associated with fisheries and aquaculture development for food security, adapting to climate change, sustainable resource management and inclusive development.

Because of great diversity of Tilapia species in Tanzania and their high ability of interbreeding, there has been a problem of culturing Tilapia hybrids which has resulted into stunted growth of the fish. This has made the fish not to grow fast and not reach market size with appropriate weight. This problem has led to most of the investors not to engage in aquaculture and consider it as a commercial activity.

Pressures from producers have led to the introduction of Oreochromis niloticus from other countries like Uganda, Zambia and Thailand for culture in large-scale commercial systems in Tanzania. We are afraid as this may lead to genetic pollution of our native species. If the imported exotic Tilapia species escape to the environment they can interbreed with the wild species and may lead to undesirable hybrids.

The GIFT fish developed by WorldFish Center under the breeding program based in Manila, Philipinnes, in 1997 has successfully helped for food security and poverty reduction in Africa and Asia. Because of ecological and genetic impact we are hesitating in introducing these new strains of Tilapia in Tanzania. There is a need to develop a fast growing and disease resistant strain of Tilapia in Tanzania through genetic improvement methods.

Under Sida project sponsorship, University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) is aiming at establishing a breeding program that will enable the development of new strain of Tilapia that will grow faster and be disease resistant and thereby increase aquaculture production.

In this program SLU has two registered PhD students and is co-supervisor for two other PhD students that are registered at UDSM. The topics for the PhDs are all connected to breeding programs with a focus on native Nile Tilapia, native Rufiji Tilapia, local Tilapia hybrids and exotic Tilapia strains.

Doctoral theses:


The project is funded by: Sida

Duration of the project: 2015-2021

Project Leader: DJ de Koning

Other contributors:

Christos Palaiokostas (SLU), Redempta Athanas (SLU, UDSM), Christer Simon (SLU, UDSM), Fernando Lopes-Pinto (SLU), Anna Norman-Haldén (SLU), Levinus Leonard (UDSM), Moses Mbiru (SLU), University Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (UDSM), Worldfish, Malaysia