Players in the local fish industry have established an association that will cater for their interests as the country seeks to boost aquaculture production. Zimbabwe is ranked the seventh largest fish producer in Africa, producing on average 10 000 tonnes annually, with Egypt topping the list at almost 1 million tonnes.Local demand for fish is estimated at 60 000t while production is trailing behind at 20 000t
Current production is dominated by capture of kapenta and other freshwater species.
And to boost production in the sector, players have come together under the umbrella of the Zimbabwe Fish Producers Association (ZFPA) which was launched last week.
Speaking at the launch, Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development permanent secretary Ringson Chitsiko said the Government was ready to partner the association to ensure success of fish farming in the country.
Mr Chitsiko said his Ministry had developed a policy where fish, previously categorized as wildlife, was now recognized as livestock.
“Aquaculture and in particular, farmed fish are an important element in the livestock cluster,” he said.
To improve viability of livestock farming, there is need to intensify production building on enterprises that generate income from limited space and fish farming is one such enterprise, highly amenable to intensification.”
He said the country was currently wasting money through importing fish when it was blessed with a large number of water bodies that could be used for aquaculture.
ZFPA chairman Gerry McColhom said the association was specifically for agricultural activities in fish farming.
“The association mandate is to reach a focal point where fish farming industry meets with legislators to deliberate on laws governing the industry and also as a platform for sharing information,” he said.
Mr McColhom said the association would establish standards on types of feeds to use and offer training to potential farmers setting a benchmark against international norms.
Fisheries and Aquaculture advisor at SmartFish programme funded by the European Union, Blessing Mapfumo said Zimbabwe needed to improve its fish production and compete on the global arena.
Mr Mapfumo said the country should emulate other African countries such as Kenya and Ghana which were actively supporting fish farming.
“The Kenyan government availed $50 million for the Aquaculture Stimulus Programme (2008) leading to super increase in production volumes and number of aquaculture players,” he said.