Katima Mulilo — Project coordinator in the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), Joyce Nauyoma, says the market for freshwater fish from the Caprivi Region could grow if proper marketing strategies, including branding and packaging, are applied.
Nauyoma on Tuesday met local farmers and fish sellers on Monday to hear their concerns regarding the marketing and selling of their freshwater fish.
The meeting was prompted by a recent visit of NCCI chief executive officer Tarah Shaanika to Katima Mulilo, where he engaged SMEs in a consultative meeting. Nauyoma says contrary to the popular belief that government is the custodian of the economy, the informal sector plays a major role in addressing many economic and social challenges.
"For us to grow an economy, we have to start from the informal sector because it has all the resources. We are sitting here with the rivers and the land. Any development has to come from within us. We are the creators of employment not the offices," said Nauyoma. Nauyoma believes that expanding the local fish market would require a total overhaul of traditional practices.
"We have the fish but we have trouble with the issue of the market. The only way now is to re-organise ourselves. We have to look at the standard. Is our standard allowing us to be able to place our products in a supermarket or for export? We have to be organised so that we can tap and get the market which is just sitting there," said Nauyoma.
"The fish from this region is of a very high quality and we have a good market for it. Imagine if we brand our fish nicely and package it in an organised manner and place it in supermarkets, you might find that we have a bigger market here than outside. The solutions to the challenges we are facing have to come from within us," cautioned Nauyoma.
"We are lucky that during the recent visit by the chief executive officer of NCCI, he saw it fit immediately upon his return to Windhoek to assign an official to come and address our concerns. Despite just selling fish at Kasumbalesa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, (DRC), it is also equally important to look at the internal market as people like our fish locally," said the acting chairperson of the NCCI branch in the Caprivi Region, Francis Sikumba.
Sikumba further said that the open market is flooded with Zambian agro-produce and he questioned why locals fail to produce their own food. "Most produce on our local market come from Zambia. Why are they managing and yet we are failing? Why can't they buy from us when we have fertile land and water," inquired Sikumba.
Local fish, mostly tiger fish and tilapia are currently sold unsystematically with no proper branding or marketing. Most local fish sellers have opted to export dried fish to markets such Kasumbalesa, a border town located between the DRC and Zambia, which they regard as a very lucrative market. The meeting between the NCCI and the farmers in the Caprivi Region ended on Tuesday.