FirstWave Group, Africa’s largest tilapia fish producer, recently signed a partnership agreement with Xelect, specialists in aquaculture genetics and breeding programs, to develop local high-performance tilapia breeds. Specifically, the breeding program will cover Nile tilapia for FirstWave’s operating companies, Yalelo Zambia and Yalelo Uganda, as the group continues to deliver on improved product affordability, availability and quality.
FirstWave is Africa’s leading aquaculture firm and operates a vertically-integrated group of companies across the production, distribution and retail of aquafeed and fish in Southern and Eastern Africa. Xelect is the leading independent provider of specialist genetics services and supports the breeding programs of many of the largest aquaculture producers globally. This strategic partnership will enable FirstWave to bring a data-driven solution to its breeding management as the business continues to pursue ongoing improvements in cost leadership and production efficiency.
“Success in leading innovation within African aquaculture requires the best ecosystem partners in addition to the best people. We are excited to partner with Xelect as they apply their global expertise and cutting-edge, data-driven tools to our local husbandry practices in Zambia and Uganda. This will allow us to breed tilapia pedigrees adapted to our local production environments while avoiding the use of foreign genetics that present a risk to ecological balance,” said Tembwe, FirstWave Group co-CEO.
Xelect’s CEO, Ian Johnston, said that “we’re delighted to be working with FirstWave as they are clearly one of the biggest names in African aquaculture. We share their passion for creating a sustainable, local source of protein and were immediately struck by their high standards of professionalism. We’re seeing more and more producers realize the value of harnessing natural genetic variation to create the best possible fish for local conditions and believe this will become a flagship example of best practice.”
An improved data-driven breeding program will lay the foundation for precision aquaculture farming at FirstWave as the group continues to address the large fish deficit in the region. Locally developed pedigrees of tilapia will achieve superior performance in growth, quality, and health, supporting FirstWave’s mission of becoming a global leader in tilapia production efficiency. FirstWave and Xelect’ expert teams will work closely together to define program outcomes that will enable FirstWave Group companies to continue to deliver high-quality and affordable protein products across Eastern and Southern African markets.