14 February 2013

Namibia: Aquaculture Enhances Food Security

The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources says aquaculture projects should be promoted aggressively, because they contribute towards achieving the national goals of food self-sufficiency, poverty reduction and revenue generation.

The Ministry of Fisheries says aquaculture projects could also promote the consumption of fish significantly, as a way of enriching the diets of people with necessary and healthy fish protein.

Berhard Esau, the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, made these remarks last week during his visit to the Leonardville mini fish farm, which was the brainchild of the late Dr Abraham Iyambo during his tenure at the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources. Esau said the demand of extension services for fish farming has increased countrywide over the last few years.

He noted that the community of Leonardville has requested the ministry to provide more information on aquaculture and to help them in assessing the nutrient value of their land/soil, water quality and quantity, as well as to advise them on the best management practices and approaches to establish more fish farming projects. On its part, government through the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources will provide basic infrastructure and technical assistance to ensure that the community of Leonardville derives the greatest possible benefits from aquaculture.

Leonardville is a small village situated some 134km from Gobabis in the Omaheke Region on the fringes of the Kalahari desert.

Esau said the southern parts of the country (the Hardap, Omaheke, Khomas and Karas regions) possess the potential for aquaculture farming and already boast three fish farming projects at Leonardville, Fonteintjie and the Noordoewer settlement on the banks of the Orange River. He said the government's Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (Tipeeg) is ready to finance such initiatives in the south.

"While the large areas of the Omaheke Region have little water, the geo-hydrology division of the department of water affairs has researched information that shows there are sections of the region which have good groundwater supplies. Good enough to supply the water necessary for aquaculture projects, which could produce up to 600 tonnes or more of fish per year, utilising water recirculation systems. Water quality in the Omaheke Region is also within acceptable limits for fish farming," he revealed.

Water conservation is the main aim of using recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS). Many commercially operated ventures that extract underground water or that are in areas of high evaporation rates use this form of highly intensive production system. Fish are reared in concrete or plastic tanks that allow zero water seepage and the water is conserved through recycling and reuse. In some cases, the rearing unit is hosted in a greenhouse to maintain optimum water temperatures, especially when warm water fish, such as tilapia and catfish are reared, according to experts.

For poverty alleviation, Esau said a combination of tilapia, carp and catfish could be used to maximize production, although tilapia remains the key fish for poverty alleviation. A N$20 million fish farm is currently under construction at Leonardville. The funding will make provision for the construction of six grow-out ponds, three mitigating dams to control flood water, an administration block, a processing facility, a feed store, one two bed-roomed house, a drying shed, slaughter house, metallic fencing and related infrastructure.

Provision was also made for future plans to provide "hot house" roofs over the ponds (green houses) due to the harsh weather and also plastic linings for the six grow-out ponds. Once it is completed this year, it is expected that more than 100 jobs would be created for locals and it will also increase Namibia's food security contributing to the socio-economic upliftment of the area. Construction commenced in June last year and work is due for completion between August and September this year.

The aim of the farm is to rear fingerlings in the proposed six grow-out ponds, which, he said, are supposed to be supplied from the Hardap Inland Aquaculture Centre (HIAC). He said fish harvesting will be carried out not more than twice a year and the fish will be sold at local markets for local consumption. According to Esau, extension services, especially fingerling production, organization of technical training sessions, facilitation and extension materials will be provided by the HIAC.

Many technical experts from Bangladesh, China, Norway, Spain, Vietnam, Japan, Cuba, the United States of America and many others have also visited Namibia under bilateral relations programmes to offer invaluable assistance in developing a sustainable and effective skills base for small-scale community-based aquaculture extension.

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