Policy Monitoring and Research Centre – PMRC researcher Esther Nyemba has pointed at the lack of a proper strategy to guide the implementation of fish farming and low extension services towards fish farmers as the two major challenges the aquaculture sub-sector is currently experiencing.
She noted that fish farming currently has been combined into one policy with livestock and agriculture, with no separate and clear strategies to help with development of sub-sector, there is need for s strategy just for fisheries.
The PMRC researcher stated that Aquaculture Development in Zambia need specific and tailored extension services. She said that most of the extension services that are taking place in the country are those that go towards maize production and livestock rearing.
“You find youths with limited to no experience in fish farming going around getting these loans to start fish farming, but for those who are starting up they need a lot of extension services to be extended to their start up farms. The lack of tailored extension services are leading to the fishes going to waste, this is were you have loss of capital,” she said.
Nyemba added that there is a lot of opportunity for aquaculture development in Zambia. This is because of the reduction in fish production through established companies such as capital fisheries. There is also the marked reduction fish supplies from rivers and lakes which is mostly due to unsustainable fishing practices as well as climate change. There is also opportunity for fish import substitution.
She further said there is need to meaningfully diversify the agriculture sector away from maize which we have been growing to exclusion of other alternatives such as livestock, rearing of poultry as well as fish.
Just like cropping, fish farming will need anchor fish farms with sub-contracted outgrows to ensure value chain creation and facilitate time to market and future exports when the stocks meets national consumption demand. This anchor and outgrown Agro scheme model has already proved successful in Zambia with Mazabuka’s Zambia Sugar.