Hungary:  EU-funded research project to boost production of African catfish

by Eurofish

Hungary’s annual production of African catfish reaches more than 5,000 tonnes, which ranks the country as the largest producer of the species in the EU. Six major producers of African catfish responsible for 90% of the volumes participated in the event, underlining its importance and relevance to the Hungarian industry.

European aquaculture production of African catfish (Clarias gariepinus) is small but growing. This species is a member of the Clarias genus of air-breathing catfishes, with long, eel-like bodies and, unlike many fish, an ability to make sounds (it croaks). Hungary is the largest EU producer, with volume exceeding 5,000 tonnes per year. The northwestern Hungarian town of Kisbajcs hosted recently an event for companies, research organizations, and representatives of government involved in African catfish farming, to brief them on the status of a project called iFishIENCi (Intelligent Fish feeding through Integration of ENabling technologies and Circular principle) that was begun in 2018 with 16 partners from seven European and one Asian country (Malta as coordinator, plus Norway, Greece, France, Denmark, Spain, Hungary, and Laos), and financially supported by the EU research and innovation funding programme Horizon 2020.


Significant and sustainable growth in aquaculture is the goal of the Horizon 2020 program, by developing more efficient production technologies that leave a smaller “environmental footprint.” Hungary is represented in the project by Bajcshal Kft (formerly Győri Előre Fisheries Cooperative), Vitafort Zrt, and the Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences (formerly Szent István University). Research is ongoing in the areas: digital data acquisition, analyses and AI control systems; new complex intensive fish rearing system (SmartRAS); integration of waste recovery concepts; and testing new protein sources (algae, yeast). Further research in Hungary is on intelligent feeding technologies and the optimal utilization of feeds, as feeding African catfish currently accounts for 65-70% of their production costs. Participants found the event in Kisbajcs “fruitful and beneficial,” with information on potential solutions for challenges and on the latest developments. The event included a farm visit and an informal discussion, as well as a tasting of African catfish products.

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