19 June 2012

Namibia: Uis Youth Aquaculture Project 'Drying Up'

IF support from the Government does not come soon, the Uis Aquaculture Eco-tourism Enterprise will grind to a halt. This is the opinion by the handful of youths who are still hoping that the project, which was launched in 2010, will bear fruit.

Two years ago, the Uis Aquaculture Eco-tourism Enterprise was launched with the hope of becoming a notable producer of tilapia fish to Namibia's food-market.

The project was a multi-national and multi-institutional initiative between Japan and the ministries of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Youth and Regional Government, with further cooperation between the Government, the Daure Daman Traditional Authority and the Uis Village Council.

Ten young people from Uis were trained then by a Japanese aquaculture expert and N$540 000 was given by the Japanese Embassy to establish the infrastructure of the project that would empower the youth and the community.

The brackish water of the old tin mine quarry became the location of the fish farm. There were also plans to start a hydroponic agriculture project, as well as a spawn, breeding facility and laboratory.

Besides this, hopes were also afoot for bungalows, braai and picnic facilities, as well as little boats to boost the envisioned eco-tourism component.

At the launch of the project in 2010, Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Kilus Nguvauva hoped to see 50 to 100 young people involved in the project by 2015.

Locals with whom The Namibian spoke last week said that the project was "very quiet"

They said funds have run out, while there were only four youth members left running the project. There were also allegations that a major portion of the first batch of harvested fish recently was destroyed due to poor management.

Upon inquiry, Michael Kalenga, project manager, suggested that the project was reaching a dead-end due to a lack of commitment from the Government.

He also acknowledged that while the first harvest was 'guaranteed' nine months after the official launch of the project, numerous hiccups such as sick fish and mortalities held back the project. Only about two months ago - a year and a half after the start of the project - the first batch of fresh 60 kilogram talapia was harvested.

Unfortunately, half of the harvest became rotten. Kalenga explained that the fish were sold to the community.

The rest were kept in freezers but it was switched off and the frozen fish became rotten, and had to be thrown away.

"There is no more money, and there are only four of us left. The others looked for other work because they are not getting their wages as promised by the line ministries. We don't have transport to and from the work, as was promised, and the money for fish food is also running out. It would be sad if this come to an end, and who will be to blame? Promises were made, but are not being kept," said Kalenga.

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