The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THE Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Co-ordination Unit for Southern Africa has said a facility for credit financing of players in the field of aquaculture is being set up.
The facility will help in contributing to the development of the sector in Zimbabwe.
Speaking in a webinar on Zimbabwe Biodiversity Economy Dialogue Series Part II, FAO Subregional Office for Southern Africa (Fisheries and Aquaculture) Fishery officer, Mr Vasco Schmidt said access to finance for entrepreneurs in the fisheries value chain was critical.
“There were a number of opportunities for youth participation in the fisheries sectors such as the tilapia value-chain. These include participation in fingerling production systems (build and operate hatcheries), fish production (grow and sell farmed fish) and retail of fish (buy and market fish).
“They are also subsidiary/up and downstream activities such as feed raw material supply, nets, supply of water quality kits, opening of cottage industry for fish oil production, biogas production out of farm waste among others, hence a facility for credit financing of actors in the field of aquaculture is being set up,” said Mr Schmidt.
He said as FAO in Zimbabwe they were supporting the tilapia value chain through improved stakeholder understanding of the value chain and how to upgrade it by establishing a multi-stakeholder platform to review and implement progress of the upgrading strategy, while also supporting the value chain institutional capacity development.
Mr Schmidt said in increased micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMES) economic performance, they were capacitating farmers and value-chain actors in fish farming as a business as well as harmonisation of the regulatory framework to facilitate investments in the sector.
“Baseline surveys in aquaculture have been developed that identify high potential areas to guide policy and development programmes. To ensure improved inclusiveness and social sustainability throughout the value chain, there has been facilitation of equal access to the value chain by all social groups and gender awareness. We have seen the development of aquaculture inclusive toolkit for inclusive gender and youth participation in value chain programme among others,” he added.
He said FAO has been supporting fisheries management in Lake Kariba, while it facilitated and assisted the re-establishment of co-management structures, and developed a fisheries management plan.
Mr Schmidt said they continue to support the development of socially inclusive business solutions led by youths that can fill market gaps effectively in consideration of environmental issues.
“This is accomplished through wage employment initiatives as well as entrepreneurship programmes for young entrepreneurs in the fisheries and other value chains,” he said.
“In Kariba District, post-harvest fish processing was identified as a solution to solve post-harvest fish losses experienced by fish farmers and fish traders through cold chain system (CCS), fish drying using FTT technology as well as fish processing into different products such as fresh fish fillets.”
The FAO-Thiaroye fish processing technique (FTT) is an innovation for post-harvest loss reduction in fisheries and aquaculture, while it allows the processing of smoked and dried fish products that better meet food safety requirements.
Mr Schmidt said the FAO, in collaboration with the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and Lake Kariba Research Station have established two fish processing centres one in Kariba town and the other in Musamba Fishing Camp, as support to the fisheries sector.
Among other key programmes, he said: “FAO has provided seed money, technical and mentorship support to five youth groups, to start their own businesses. One group is using blast-freezing technology to preserve fish, while the other group is involved in filleting of fresh fish. The other three are involved in aquaculture/pond fish production.”