Sourcing quality fish feed is a challenge for Russia

Russia is looking to achieve self-sufficiency in fish feed. Currently, however, the country is strongly dependent on imports and domestic feeds lack quality, which is believed to be the main factor constraining the growth of the Russian fish farming industry.


Russia plans to ramp up aquaculture production.

igh-quality feed is needed to fuel the anticipated growth in Russian aquaculture. By 2030, Russia may catch up with the US in terms of farmed fish production, ramping up capacities from the cur-

rent 200,000 tonnes to nearly 500,000 tonnes, the Russian fish industry union VARPE estimated. The government agen- cies are even more optimistic. The Russian federal agency for fisheries Rosrybolovstvo forecast that, by that time, domestic production could reach 700,000 tonnes per year, while in the longer run, the country can boost its share of global aquacul- ture production from less than 1% in 2020 to 10% or 15%, Ilya Shestakov, director of Rosrybolovstvo estimated. The

government anticipated that private investors would pump Rub613 billion (US$ 8 billion) into building new fish farms in Russia and spend Rub118 billion (US$ 1.7 billion) on launch- ing new aquafeed production capacity by 2030. “Russia has everything it needs to become one of the world’s leaders in this sector. We have plenty of water bodies, especially on the south and in the central part of the country,” Shestakov said, adding that Russia possesses one-fifth of the world’s freshwa- ter reserves, more than any other country in the world. In ad- dition, the Russian coastline is calculated to be 37,654 km long, which is more than enough to boost aquaculture production. When it comes to aquaculture, Russia currently has the prob- lem of being strongly dependent on imports for almost everything: broodstock, farming equipment, and feed, the government stipulated in an industry-development pro- gramme adopted in 2020. Fish farmers agree, stressing that sourcing good-quality fish feed is the biggest challenge. While the imported feed is expensive and has been getting even more expensive in recent years due to the depreciation of the Russian ruble and the inferior quality of domestic feed. “Only imported fish feed is good. There is domestic feed, but we don’t use it,” said Julia Vartemya, director of a trout farm in Leningrad Oblast. In 2020, the Russian government set the target to boost do- mestic fish feed production nearly tenfold during the next decade, to 525,000 tonnes. This figure is expected to meet domestic demand and let the country abandon imports, which currently mainly come from China and the European Union (EU). This target is believed to be entirely realistic since, to some extent, it is based on already rolled out plans. Several new feed mills focused on aquafeed are already in the pipeline in Russia. For example, Astrakhan-based company Rybnye Kor- ma laid out plans to build a new modern feed mill with a ca- pacity of 50,000 tonnes per year for Rub1.3 billion (US$ 20 million). The company will focus on feed for valuable fish spe- cies, such as sturgeon, trout, catfish, and others, and use fish- meal, vegetable proteins, feathers, and chicken meat and bone meal as raw materials. Although the feed mill will

30 ▶ ALL ABOUT FEED | Volume 29, No. 5/6, 2021



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