4. The tilapia business value chain

Your first process of producing fish and then the second process of selling them needs to be clearly understood by you.

There are several steps in each of these, and within these steps, yet more steps. The question that needs to be asked is “how?” How do grow fish? And then, how do we sell these fish?

Let’s start with production. How do we produce fish?

The process is logical. Firstly we start with small fish (which we call fingerlings), that we then grow into larger fish. Production of fingerlings in itself comprises of a few steps. A hatchery is the operation in which parent stock are used to spawn eggs, that are then hatched into fry. A nursery is the operation that then grows fry into fingerlings.

Fingerlings are then put into the grow-out phase where they are grown to their target weight.

So this part of the process can be summarised as


growing tilapia fish


The graphic above shows the major inputs that are needed, namely that of feed, people, infrastructure, genetics etc. There are more of course and the complexities of these you will have to learn over time as you progress in your fish farming career.

These are all links in what is known as a value chain. You need all of them to be in place for the overall process to work. Of all of these the production process takes the longest, adds the most value and is thus the most important part of the chain. It is here that we think you need to start, and once you have mastered producing fish, the other steps of the nursery and hatchery can be added into your business further on down the line.

Unless you have a budget in excess of R50M, buying fingerlings already “pre-made” for you and good to grow, remains the cheapest way to get production up and running and for you to learn and master the process.