Manager   •   almost 9 years ago

Problem Statement 15-20: "Build a simple model to analyze the export potential of fish produced at Armenian fish farms."

NOTE: This is a featured problem statement. Featured problem statements have been qualified for post-Fishackathon engagement by both the submitting party and by our expert panel. While all of the submitted problem statements qualify for the prizes, these have vetted for contunuation beyond the event itself.

Fish is one of few net export commodities for Armenia, making it a valuable industry, and USAID recognizes the economic importance of the industry. Currently Armenian fish farms produce about 11,000 tons of fish annually and the Ministry of Agriculture’s strategy calls for increasing output to 25,000 tons. Most Armenian fish exports are delivered to Russia, however, the recent negative economic situation, including the devaluation of the Russian Ruble, has significantly reduced Armenian fish exports. Some fish farmers have stopped feeding their fish to slow their rate of growth, hoping that the export market will recover in the coming months once their fish ripen. The Government of Armenia has maintained a position that the industry is critical to the Armenian economy and local job creation. Exploring new export markets is a challenge, considering Armenia’s landlocked geography, closed borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan, and limited transport connectivity.

Problem Statement
Build a simple model to analyze the export potential of fish produced at Armenian fish farms. Consider multiple large markets, including the U.S., EU, and China. Include consideration of logistical, transport, environmental, economic, and social factors weighed for each potential export market. Given that the data come from diverse sources, one essential function of the Fishackathon will be to compare different sources to generate a coherent picture of the potential global market for Armenia fish farm products. The resulting model and analysis will be used by Armenian fish farm associations, economic institutions, and by USAID Armenia to help fish farmers diversify their export opportunities.

Additional Background
The GOA is reluctant to set policies without better understanding of the fish farm industry. A lack of understanding of the current state of aquifers and lack of reliable monitoring and geospatial data impedes enforcement and response from the government. Thus donors like USAID face challenges about how and where to focus resources. Lack of data to inform responsible water planning and permitting means that groundwater extraction will continue to occur at unsustainable levels.

Armenia was once called the “Silicon Valley of the Soviet Union” because of its high-tech workforce. However, following independence, Armenia has transitioned away from the large industrial complexes of the Soviet-era and has struggled to modernize amid fluctuating economics, geographic isolation, and a population that is decreasing by more than 2% annually. Despite the challenges, Armenia has achieved a literacy rate of 99.6%, which is higher than that of the United States. Internet penetration has increased from only 29% in 2010 to 75% in 2015, giving rise to a new generation of technologically-savvy teens and young adults.

There is not an aquarium or water center in Armenia, however, there are centers for creativity and entrepreneurship, for example the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies and the Microsoft Innovation Center of Armenia which may be interested in partnering on the Fishackathon.

Core Category

Organization Name

Organization Address
Embassy of USA, 1 American Ave, Yerevan, Armenia

Organization Point of Contact (Name)
Patrick Meyer

Organization Point of Contact (Title)
Science & Technology Advisor

Organization Point of Contact (Email Address)

Focus Area
Market Access

Solution Category


  •   •   over 8 years ago

    Possible sources of data for this challenge include:
    • Armenian National Statistical Service. -- Specifically the fish data here:

    • Freightos -- an Israeli startup company that aims to be “Expedia for international shipping.” Their system integrates data on ship location and ability, weather reports, and freight pricing schedules to determine the optimal routes and lowest prices for international shipping.
    • FAO Fish Price Index -- a team of researchers from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Association has developed an index of global seafood prices to help understand and mitigate food crises.
    • FAO Fisheries & Aquaculture Department -- provides numerous datasets on fish catches, trade, and consumption.
    • UN Commodity Trade Database -- detailed global trade statistics dating back to 1962. Beautiful, easy-to-use interface for creating detailed queries (including a lot of different fish-related categories).
    • USDA Foreign Agricultural Service -- a variety of databases on agriculture, trade, and food. The most relevant source appears to be the Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS) database.
    • USDA Economic Research Service -- offers information on US-based production and trade in aquaculture products (among other things).
    • NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service -- publicly available data on US foreign trade in seafood products. -- the French government’s open data website. The agricultural section is similar in spirit to the USDA FAS site, but the fact that private individuals can also contribute data to the repository means that datasets are more diverse. Similar sites can probably be found in many other countries.
    • UK Sea Fisheries Statistics -- provides a variety of freely-accessible data on the UK fishing industry, overseas trade, and the world fishing industry.

  •   •   over 8 years ago

    Q: How many fish farms are there in Armenia's Ararat Valley?
    A: Total farms = about 267; Total farms in operation = about 190.

    Q: How many wells for fish farms in the Ararat Valley?
    A: For fishery purposes, the Ministry of Nature Protection has issued permits for 576 wells for intake of 43,154.1 l/s or 43.2 m3/s, or 1,362.3 Mm3/year. About 470 of these are in operation, plus another approx. 44 that are pumping water.

    Q: What is the total fish production of Armenia, in tons per year?
    A: More than 11,500 tons; roughly two-thirds of this production is generated by a small group of 20 to 25 farms in the Ararat Valley.

    Q: Types of fish grown?
    A: Mostly cold temperature species, including sturgeon and trout, but with some catfish grown in larger, less water-demanding farms.

    Q: Water sources?
    A: Nearly all fish farms use artesian ground water, which does not need to be pumped. Only a very few farms have experienced complete loss of their artesian water source, at which point they then need to start pumping groundwater to supply their farms.

    Q: Artesian water source characteristics?
    A: Typical temperature = 13 degrees Celsius; typically oxygen = saturated w/ ~10 mg/L dissolved oxygen; typical total dissolved mineral content = ~1000 mg/L, typical suspended solids = 0 mg/L (i.e., very clear water); typical trace water contamination with ammonia-nitrogen, phosphorus, etc. = quite low

    Q: Artesian water well pressure head?
    A: The ambient artesian pressure head has been dropping over the past few years, and also depends upon the location of the farms and wells within the valley due to associated variations in the sub-surface layering of the valley's complex, folded tectonic bedrock conformation. Past artesian pressure heads measured at several meters in head are now believed to have dropped to 1 to 2 meter levels, although these ambient pressure head levels are variable from farm to farm relative to site specific plant elevation, and subsurface conformation of the highly stratified artesian groundwater layers.

    Q: Water consumption rates?
    A: Highly varied. Large farms may be using 0.75 to over 1 cubic meters per second. Small farms will be using much less water, at 0.05 and even lower cubic meters per second.

    Q: Typical farm configuration?
    A: Single-pass tanks, front to back flow schemes, with limited to nil water recycle. Tanks depths usually about 1.5 meters.

    Q: Typical farm construction?
    A: Large systems usually built with concrete wall and floor construction. Smaller farms usually built with bermed earthen tanks.

    Q: Typical farm operational technologies?
    A: A small number, i.e., the very largest fish farms, are fitted with real-time water consumption instrumentation (i.e., typically ultrasonic flow meters), plus real-time temperature monitoring, plus real-time dissolved oxygen analyzers, plus mechanical water aeration equipment. Most smaller to mid-size farms have no on-line instrumentation, and may at best use portable analyzers to measure flow or temperature or dissolved oxygen levels.

    Q: Typical farm water treatment technologies?
    A: Only a few of the very large farms may be using water filtration. The vast majority of farms do not have any sort of water treatment technology.

    Q: Post-farm reuse of fish farm water discharge?
    A: Very, very infrequently, perhaps in conjunction with local farmland or orchard irrigation. Almost all farms directly discharge their effluent waters directly to surface discharge channels/streams.

    Q: What happens to the fish produced in these farms?
    A: A few of the smaller farms may handle their own fish processing and local sales. The majority of farms appear to sell their mature fish to larger handlers...who may also be large fish farm operators...through which these fish are processed, distributed, and marketed.

    Q: Fish farm energy consumption?
    A: Small farms may have no energy consumption whatsoever, assuming that their water supply is artesian in origin. Aeration hardware may represent the highest energy demand for those farms using such technology, using a wide range of rotating surface brushes, paddles, fountains, jet pumps, etc., and will have power demand levels ranging from ~100+ to ~1000+ Watts.

    Q: Secondary value-added fish farm production?
    A: Larger farms may generate sturgeon caviar as a value-added product to complement conventional fish production. These farms require a more advanced farm configuration suited to growing selected female sturgeon to far higher maturity levels reaching approximately 8 to 12 years in age.

  •   •   over 8 years ago

    Just wondering, what is it meant by a simple model? As in data visualization?

  •   •   over 8 years ago

    Michael, the type of model is left up to the coder. Whatever platform or type he/she thinks is best.

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