Fish farming: Answer to aquaculture, fisheries challenge

18 Feb, 2024 - 00:02 0 Views
Fish farming: Answer to aquaculture, fisheries challenge Fard director Mr Milton Makumbe handing over 7 000 fingerlings to Silalatshani Irrigation business unit members recently

The Sunday News

Judith Phiri, Features Reporter

FISH farming is one of the sectors on a growth trajectory in Zimbabwe, with many new farmers embracing it. The sector’s growth comes as a response to the country’s need to increase production of fish from the levels of around 20 000 metric tonnes per year against a demand of around 60 000 metric tonnes per year, according to official statistics.

Launching the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) for fisheries and aquaculture at the tune of US$500 000, a programme meant to enhance fish breeding and production, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Davis Marapira said the country was endowed by over 10 000 dams and a conducive climate for fish production but the challenges of obtaining quality fingerlings remains.

“Quality fingerling supply is also a challenge compounded by the limited co-ordination and harmonisation of systematic policies and legislation to guide fingerling production in the aquaculture sector. The Government of Zimbabwe realises the importance of fish in food and nutrition security, income generation, employment creation and empowerment of communities. A lot of effort is now being put towards the development of this sector which has in the past received low priority. There is also a great opportunity to export excess fish produce to the Sadc region and beyond.”

Running under the theme “Technical support to enhance fish breeding and production in Zimbabwe”, the TCP is expected to see the Fisheries and Aquaculture Resources Production Department (Fard) receiving fingerlings and technical support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.

The Deputy Minister said the launch of the programme would go a long way in developing the Fisheries and Aquaculture sector in the country, while it was a step closer to Vision 2030 and a self-sustaining economy.

He said the FAO TCP programme will assist to strategically position hatcheries across the country to improve access and reduce the cost of fingerlings.

“The three breeding sites will be at Henderson (Mashonaland Central), Makoholi (Masvingo province) and Matopos (Matabeleland South Province) where Henderson is currently operating at 30 percent capacity with Makoholi and Matopos still at zero percent,” said Deputy Minister Marapira.

FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Southern Africa and Representative for Zimbabwe, Dr Patrice Talla said FAO’s work in fisheries and aquaculture was geared towards bringing about a blue transformation, a vision committed to building sustainability and resilience. “The expected TCP project outputs include increasing the capacity of three Government hatcheries for production of high-quality fingerlings, enhancing the capacity of Government staff in hatchery management and development of hatchery management policy guidelines to contribute to the attainment of national targets as outlined in national frameworks.”

The proposed sites were toured at Matopos Research Institute, with the setting up of 10 fish ponds to commence. Agricultural Advisory and Rural Development Services (AARDS) Matabeleland South Provincial director Mrs Shupikai Sibanda said as a province, they were geared up for the project and it would go a long way in increasing fish production. “We will ensure that we set the ball rolling as we have been given an opportunity to augment the fingerling production along the value chain. Aquaculture is considered to be a sustainable alternative as far as the availability of fish for food and nutrition security is concerned. The demand for fish and its related products can no longer be met by the supply from the capture fisheries alone and this is why it is important to promote the growth of the aquaculture sector.”

Giving an overview of the aquaculture sector to date, Fisheries and Aquaculture Resources Department (Fard)  director, Mr Milton Makumbe said, “The total number of fishponds increased by 29 percent from 5 634 fishponds in 2022 to 7 247 fishponds in 2023. The actual harvest shows a gradual increase across the years, however, never surpassing the expected harvest. This may be attributed to poor management in ponds, high costs of feed and poor quality of fingerlings.”

He said they were expecting that by 2025, Zimbabwe would be in a position to produce 166 670 000 fingerlings per season, while during the current breeding season, 8 770 160 quality fingerlings have been produced.

The TCP complements Government efforts that include the Presidential Fisheries Scheme, which seeks to enhance food and nutrition security. 

The Government has moved mountains in promoting the fishing industry with plans to set up 35 000 fishponds in 35 000 villages countrywide where boreholes are going to be drilled.

At least 300 000 fingerlings will be stocked for free in dams and fish ponds countrywide under the Presidential Community Fisheries Scheme, which is designed to enhance food and nutrition security and improve the livelihoods of people living in rural areas. Under the programme, about 1 200 dams have been certified for stocking with tilapia (breams), while all irrigation business units, youth business units, school business units and village business units are also set to benefit. Local communities have received training on sustainable exploitation of the fish.

Launching the programme at Silalatshani Irrigation Scheme in Insiza District, Matabeleland South Province recently, Mr Makumbe said dam stocking was now at its peak.

Launching the same programme at Kalope Dam under Dick Village in Hwange, Matabeleland North Povince recently, Deputy Minister Marapira said aquaculture has the potential to transform livelihoods, while as a Ministry, their thrust was to create employers rather than employees.

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