In 1998-1999 the Nefisco Foundation implemented the Homestead Magur (catfish) Culture Programme, also known as the Chari in the Bari programme in the Compartmentalization Pilot Project in Bangladesh. With this programme they tried to reach the poorest of the poor, and wanted to show this group that it is possible to grow high-value fish with limited resources.
The main idea behind the programme was that while magur (African catfish, Clarias gariepinus) is a good fish to be grown, because of its high growth rate, disease resistance, ability to take up oxygen from the air, etc., most local people were not aware of the potential of this fish. A few households in the CPP area had already been growing magur on their homesteads. This method proved to be successful, so CPP has taken up the task to spread this local knowledge among other households with emphasis on professional fishermen, landless, and other poor people. Initially 200 households joined the Chari in the Bari programme.
According to tve.org the African catfish Clarias gariepinus is one of the most suitable species for aquaculture in Africa. Since the 1970s it has been considered to hold great promise for fish farming in Africa. The African catfish has a high growth rate, is very resistant to handling and stress, and is very well appreciated in a wide number of African countries, including Nigeria (where it is often referred to as lungfish).
The FAO have produced a free document Artificial Reproduction and Pond Rearing of the African Catfish Clarias Gariepinus in Sub-Saharan Africa – A Handbook, edited by Gertjan de Graaf and Hans Janssen, from the Nefisco Foundation mentioned above.
Research has also been conducted in Brazil – Dietary canitine maintains energy reserves and delays fatigue of exercised african catfish (Clarias gariepinus) fed high fat diets effectively exploring better diets – which should lead to better growth patterns.
Rhodes University offer a free, online Clarias husbandry manual. They observe:
The African sharptooth catfish, Clarias gariepinus, is undoubtedly a remarkable and fascinating beast. Biologically it has all the attributes of a premier aquaculture species. Its biology, ecology and life history is well known and documented. From a teaching point of view this makes it an ideal species, allowing students to obtain an insight into how natural history information can be used for the development of culture technologies. Despite the technological know-how, total production of clariid catfish in Africa in 1993 has been estimated at a mere ca. 4500 tons. Despite the fact that there may be a considerable margin of error in the reported production figures, the farming of catfish in Africa is still a marginal activity. The reasons for this are manifold and can be primarily pinned on market forces, inadequate regional infrastructures, production costs, the socio-economics of fish farming and the underlying philosophy upon which aquaculture development in Africa is still largely based. Nevertheless the future potential for the farming of Clarias gariepinus throughout its distributional range is immense.