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Fish college to reduce Egypt's reliance on beef

A new college in Egypt is attempting to change the country’s dietary habits, reducing the harmful impact of livestock production by encouraging people to eat more fish.

Posted : 7 June 2010

“It will help change Egyptians’ food patterns by cutting our heavy reliance on animal protein by inducing a switch to fish,” says college founder and fish culture specialist Ali al-Zayat.

Beef products have rocketed in price recently in the north African country, which campaigners hope will aid efforts to encourage a boycott of meat.

Approximately 1.2 million hectares are given over to fodder crops to feed cattle, according to al-Zayat, which he says “limits the country’s ability to grow badly needed wheat”. Because so much land is used for beef production, Egypt has to import more than 50 per cent of its wheat. 40 per cent of the country’s 80 million inhabitants live in poverty.

However with 1,600 miles of coast on the Mediterranean and Red seas, as well as the river Nile and many lakes, the college’s founders believe fish can help feed the country while at the same time reducing its reliance on meat.

With advice and technical assistance from China, a country well-versed in fish farming, the college is also expected to teach local people about more efficient ways to fish, cutting down on the numbers who currently trawl illegally in other countries’ waters.

Already approved by the Egyptian ministry of higher education, it will open next year in the city of Suez on Egypt’s east coast.

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