FLOATING cage aquaculture has helped Iringa fish farmers increase income since they started the scheme as a way of adapting to climate change and less dependence on forests.
With the help of the Eastern Arc Mountains Conservation Endowment Fund (EAMCEF), the fishermen have built floating cage ponds next to their homes. Among other farmers, Alfa Mwamasika of Itonya village, Kilolo District, Iringa Region, has ten cages which he uses as ponds to breed and grow fish.
In an interview with 'Daily News', he said that each of the pond, which measures 2.5 square metres, is used to breed 600 fish, which take between five and six months before harvesting. "Each fish goes for 100/-, which earns us a total of 100,000/- per cage," said Mr Mwamasika. He said they usually have a series of meetings to teach villagers how to breed the fish in the cages and a few safety precautions.
The cages are made from metals that are placed together and held afloat using empty jerrycans. The 'walls' of the submerged fish ponds are made from nets which are tied to the metal bars. He said that the group specifically breeds the Tilapia nilotica (sato) and the Tilapia esculentus (perege).
"Initially we mixed males and females in the same cage but we realised that the males were smaller in size when they were harvested, so we decided to breed females only," he said. The farmers sell their fish to several hotels in various parts of the country, depending on their demand.
"We never lack markets and we harvest them when they are just 500 grammes or plate size, because the hotels prefer the size," he said. This form of fish farming, according to him, is good since the fish is kept in a clean environment.