eFishery, a finalist at the Seedstars World 2015 final, has developed a system for automating the feeding of commercially-farmed fish which is claimed to significantly reduce costs.
Nowadays tech innovation is everywhere, including lots of places where you might not expect to find it. This trend is illustrated by eFishery, based in Bandung, Indonesia, which was among the finalists at the Seedstars World 2015 event held in Geneva in February. The firm has developed a system to make life easier for aquaculture farmers and help reduce their costs. “The biggest problem for a fish farmer is the cost of feeding, which represents 70 to 80% of total costs,” points out eFishery co-founder Gibran Huzaifah Amsi El Farizy, explaining: “Today fish feeding in small and medium-sized farms is done very inefficiently. Feeding is done by unskilled labour; these people do not understand the appetite of the fish with any degree of precision, and usually give the fish far too much to eat. This wasteful process leaves room for savings to be made, and in addition overfeeding can lead to some of the fish dying, as an excess of food in the water causes pollution. I believed that technology could solve the problem.” His idea was to automate the whole operation using a machine that can detect whether/when the fish are hungry. A first sensor captures the movements of the fish and releases food when the fish start to get agitated, a sign that they are hungry. Then other sensors detect the noise made by the fishes’ jaws. When they stop chewing, this is an indication that they are full, and the system automatically stops releasing food.
eFishery, a smart automated system for feeding fish
Savings of up to 1200 dollars a month claimed
The ingenious system is based on the experience of El Farizy – a former fish farmer – and his co-founder, who is an engineer by training. His aquaculture customers can go on to the company website and/or download an app to help them keep an eye on the situation remotely. One small technical issue is that the system has to be adjusted for each fish species. At the moment it works for the four types of fish which are most farmed in Indonesia and also for the most commonly farmed prawn. The system that the duo have developed should, claims El Farizy, lead to a 20% reduction in the cost of feeding the fish. This means on average $800 to $1,200 per farm per month, a very significant sum for a small fish farm in Indonesia. The machine sells for around €700 which, when compared with automated systems found in developed countries, where this type of machine costs over €5,000, seems a very reasonable price-tag. Nevertheless the price is still quite high for a small fish farmer, so eFishery is also planning to hire machines out. At the moment, only one year after launch, just over 200 fish farmers are making use of the system.
10 million Indonesians work in the fisheries industry
Indonesia is a country of many small islands and large bodies of water where a large number of fish farms operate. Some 10 million people work in the fish farming industry there. So this is a promising market, which El Farizy aims to tackle first, before going on to export his system. ‟We don’t just want to sell our product without any follow-up. We want to ensure our customers have good after-sales service. This is why we have decided to focus on Indonesia where the market is huge. But we have also had enquiries from China, Thailand, Vietnam, and even from Brazil. In the long term our plan is to export our system abroad, in particular to places where the technology can meet a real need, i.e. first and foremost emerging countries. In European countries by contrast, there is either too little aquaculture or it is on too large a scale and uses highly advanced technology. At the moment our solution is designed for small fish farms with small budgets,” underlines El Farizy.
However, eFishery is also a smart device capable of providing information over time on the quantities of food needed for each species of fish, and on fish reproduction patterns. In order to monetise his system further, El Farizy is looking to expand his business model by selling this data to large industrial companies and fish food manufacturers.