AKVA targets global tilapia market with ‘LEGO aquaculture’

Aquaculture technology company AKVA group launched its new, modular cage system for emerging markets at AquaNor 2017 in Trondheim, Norway.
modular cagesTrond Severinsen, senior vice-president for technology and development, said AKVA plans to target the “global tilapia and small cage” markets with the new product; an affordable “corner piece” which AKVA will ship to distributors and customers, who can then procure their own flotation and connecting pipes, and build cages to their own specifications.

“Despite the differences in money invested in cage farms in Norway and in places like India, the latter's are 2.5 times more expensive per cubic meter,” said Severinsen.

“Many cage designs in India, Southeast Asia and Africa are not well designed or built; can be unsafe to work on; and will often suffer severe damage when bad weather hits – there has to be some good engineering and clever improvement, while still keeping costs at a minimum.”

AKVA also sees China and even Russia as potential marketplaces, where the farming of tilapia, trout, perch, and other freshwater species is being carried out on a smaller scale, by families or small groups.

A patent has been filed for the new cage design, and the next step is for a couple of companies to test the equipment in practice. India's West Coast Group – which Undercurrent News previously reported was working with AKVA on this project – is one, while an African tilapia farmer will also be trialing it.

Severinsen noted that in order to keep costs at a minimum, AKVA has chosen "not to run extensive testing on its unique corner bracket concept yet, trusting its very experienced designers and experts to know it would work well".

“I think we assume the corner pieces will be the strongest parts of these cages. Customers can use any strength of piping to link them, depending what they want to spend; they could even use bamboo if they can find this in 250 millimeter diameter."

"Essentially, you can do anything with them; add platforms, railings around cages, build feed storage floats and work platforms. Some people are even talking about turning them 90 degrees, building a frame and covering it with tarp to make a roof."

"This concept is just like LEGO. I'm actually quite excited to see what people create with them.”

Setting up the high-pressure injection molding manufacturing of the corner pieces was a fair investment – around €1 million for the mold and the robotics which work it – but now the automated system means it can produce them 24/7, 365 days per year, needing only occasional checking and maintenance, said Severinsen.

West Coast director Rahul Kulkarni told Undercurrent at AquaNor that his firm will be the exclusive distributor for AKVA products in India and other nearby regions.

“We'll purchase the pieces from AKVA, then we'll be sourcing the other parts and assembling the cages for buyers as per their requirement,” he said, explaining that this arrangement made sense from a cultural point of view when it came to sales.

​Source: Undercurrent News, Neil Ramsden : Original article