In many urban areas, people are converting their swimming pools and backyards into small-scale fish farming ponds.
Behind the success of many of these fish farmers stands the Aquaculture Zimbabwe Trust, established in 2008 to mobilise resources for the sustainable development of environmentally-friendly fisheries as a strategy to counter poverty and improve people’s livelihoods.
Over the years, it has been on the ground offering training aimed at building capacity to support the development of fish farming.
Now, Government is assisting small-scale fish farmers’ groups across by providing them with inputs, free transport and training programmes in a bid to increase production and improve livelihoods.
The State is urging people to form fish farming groups. The idea is to increase the number of fish farmers from 22 000 to around 100 000 by year end.
Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said aquaculture could contribute to economic turnaround.
“The ministry feels it is one area that is not living up to its potential and more should be done to increase production in the sector. The ministry is encouraging farmers to take advantage of the vast dams across the country and venture into fish farming, which does not need many resources, except water and fish, to start,” she said.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said they wanted to make use of more than 3 000 dams across Zimbabwe in this regard.
Aquaculture is gaining currency, and an example of a vibrant project is that at Saratoga Farm near Harare which has more than 500 people working together on fish farming.
Saratoga fish farming group chairman Mr Isaac Makore said, “It’s my great expectation that the group will move with one vision to achieve our goals and make the community fully benefit from our dams. We have more than five dams in our area but we want to concentrate on the big three dams as we want to guard against poaching, the smaller the area the more secure the place is.” With a workforce of some 800 people, Lake Harvest on the eastern shores of Lake Kariba is now the largest sustainable fish farm in Africa and has become crucial to the local economy.
The facility covers more than 1 000 hectares including areas dedicated to fish rearing, feeding and processing, and there are plans to expand the site to around 1 200ha by 2015.
The project is owned by African Century Group, an investment company based in Mauritius that works predominantly in the food, property and financial services sectors.
Around 37 percent of Zimbabwe’s fish production is for the local market, with around 50 percent exported to Zambia, Malawi, Angola, South Africa and the DRC. Around 13 percent goes to Europe.
According to the African Development Bank, the total potential demand for tilapia in regional markets is 100 000 tonnes per year, suggesting plenty of growth potential.
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