Command Fisheries is projected to create over 50 000 jobs in 2017 following co-option of various communities into the massive fish-production programme.
Crafted in the mould of Command Agriculture, the initiative involves Government supplying fingerlings to communities and then harvesting a stipulated quota from each producer.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said: “We have come up with a draft policy which I am going to present to Cabinet soon. It’s a big initiative; we are targeting to incorporate youth and women.
“We are targeting 5 000 dam areas and want 10 people to be employed per area. This means 50 000 will get jobs at inception. The programme will be based on three models for cage culture, aquaculture and fish farming, which is for those who will be buying permits to fish from the dams.
“We have already started and are engaging the (Ministry of) Finance to assist us with resources. We are now recruiting beneficiaries. It’s big business, and we are going to be self-sufficient in terms of fish-production; and exports. Also, we are going to raise revenue from permit sales.”
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said Command Fisheries would promote domestic fish consumption, adding: “When I joined this ministry, I discovered that Zimbabwe was consuming one kilogramme of fish per individual per year. Yet, in other countries, average consumption is six kgs per year. So, it showed that there was a deficit.
“Over and above that, I discovered that the Department of Fisheries — a whole department dealing with fish — had nothing much going on. So, it needs to be revamped so that it fully executes its mandate. Other countries in the region are bringing in substantial income by exporting while in terms of nutrition, they give priority to fish.
“Our position as a ministry is that if we have 10 000 dams — large, medium and small — why are we not promoting fisheries and opening up opportunities for those who want to go into fisheries? There are success stories like Lake Harvest, which is producing a lot and earning about US$27 million a year from fish.
“So, we need to realise the potential that we can unlock from the fisheries industry. We are saying let’s be serious about fisheries. This provides for many downstream industries. It is not just fisheries alone, but downstream industries.
“Countries such as China are even offering degree programmes related specifically to fisheries. We also need to produce boats and nets; and to come up with new technologies for the fisheries industry.”
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