As Zimbabwe sets out to develop a fully-fledged fish farming industry, a number of initiatives can be adopted to grow the vast aquaculture potential of the country. Zimbabwe already boasts the largest fish farming operation in Africa and there is scope to grow small-scale commercial fish production too in the country which holds 60 percent of all dammed water in the SADC region and has desirable climatic conditions for freshwater aquaculture.
Along with the rest of the world, Africa is reaping the benefits of the global Blue Revolution, by developing its aquaculture potential in both natural water bodies and specially constructed ponds.
It is recognised that fish farming is the fastest growing food producing sector in the world and has a key role to play in feeding an increasing world population, as fish can be produced more efficiently and cost effectively than most meat proteins.
Globally, production from aquaculture has now overtaken harvesting of wild fish stocks, and is growing at an average annual rate of 10 percent in Africa.
The Zimbabwe Fish Producers' Association (ZFPA) was established in March 2016 to promote and develop aquaculture as a fully-fledged and vibrant part of the livestock industry.
Two years on, much has been done to create a framework to build a vibrant and viable fish farming industry with strong value chains that incorporate small-scale and commercial fish farmers. This success will be discussed at the forthcoming Fish Farming Indaba to be held on Friday March 29 at Henderson Research Institute.
ZFPA believes that fish production in Zimbabwe will grow significantly, with aquaculture proudly taking its place alongside the chicken, pork and beef industries as a key supplier of tasty, nutritious, home-grown protein for a growing population
Zimbabwe can grow its aquaculture sector to produce 20 000mt of fish, creating 10,000 direct jobs and another 10 000 indirect ones. This level of production would require 35 000mt of feed, spurring primary maize and soya production, distribution channels and informal traders.
This will be the focus of the topic "Constraints and Opportunities in Fish Farming in Zimbabwe: Vision and How to Get There". For Zimbabwe to realise the full potential of aquaculture, the private sector and government must work together with financial institutions to establish an Aquaculture Development Fund, a strategy that stakeholders tabled during the planning phase of the Command Fisheries Programme.
It was proposed that a surtax of 10cents/kg on all fish imports entering Zimbabwe be implemented which will then directly capitalise the Fund.
This innovative idea will also be discussed at the Fish Farming Indaba 2019.
An "Update on the National Fisheries Development Programme" will highlight that Zimbabwe recognises aquaculture as a form of livestock production with potential to contribute significantly to sustainable livelihoods, food security, and economic development, through value addition and export of processed fish product.
With the right policies and strategies, there is enormous potential to develop fish farming in Zimbabwe, using tilapia -- Africa's own indigenous fish which achieve good growth rates under intensive production. This nutritious fish is in demand countrywide and in all sub-Saharan Africa. With the development of a new and specialised industry to produce feed for commercial fish production and a growing base of support services, the time is ripe to support and further develop emerging small-scale production.
As the fish farming industry grows in Zimbabwe, there is need for accredited and certified trainers to provide expertise and practical training for fish farmers and this topic will be explored at the indaba.
Alternative Fish Feed as a Cost Reduction Strategy for Fish Farming and Bio-security in Fish Farming are two topics that will also be discussed. With the rising costs of stock-feed, including fish feed, alternative fish feeds have the potential to improve viability and decrease dependence on maize as the main ingredient. Bio-security measures for fish farmers in line with the World Animal Health guidelines are being prepared and fish health should be monitored regularly.
Cage/pond attendants and farm personnel need to be trained in general daily fish health examinations for prompt identification of diseases. Bio-security requirements include effective pest control, regular monitoring of water quality, correct handling of fish, disinfection and transport to ensure that fish are maintained in a healthy environment for optimum production.
Practical demonstrations and discussion will take place at the fish pods in the afternoon and personnel from the Henderson Research Institute will explain their water reticulation system that requires no pumps or generators to provide fresh water for the fish ponds.
Cage fish aquaculture is one of the expedient and most productive water-based methods of producing fish. A floating framework unit with mesh net is suspended in the water and comes in different dimensions. Fish are stocked in the cages at different preferred sizes. The advantages and important aspects of this method of fish farming will be discussed in-depth.
The cost for the one-day Fish Farming Indaba is RTGS $30 which includes teas and a hot lunch as well as an information pack. Payment is via cash, transfer, swipe or ecocash and tickets can be purchased either at the office in Exhibition Park or at the gate on the day.
ZFPA is producing a manual on Fish Farming in Zimbabwe for emergent and small-scale farmers, who are the future of aquaculture in Zimbabwe. As with other livestock, the key to successful fish production is knowledge and good management. Fish Farming in Zimbabwe will cover all aspects of commercial aquaculture in one, comprehensive and easy-to-follow manual.
Importantly, it will also highlight why management of the water eco-system is an important part of fish husbandry and that fish require different feeding regimes at each growth stage, from fingerling to harvest-ready fish.
Aquaculture in Zimbabwe is at an exciting confluence, with developments in the fish industry coming together propitiously. This augurs well for the expansion of fish farming, especially with the focus on small- scale production.