Govt pushes to revitalise the aquaculture industry

Ashton Mutyavaviri

REVITALISATION of the aquaculture sector is taking shape with Government pushing to establish cold chain storage facilities countrywide for safe storage of fish in line with food safety standards until they are sold.

Launching a fisheries programme at the Silalatshani Irrigation Scheme in Insiza, Matabeleland South province recently, Fisheries and Aquaculture Resources Department (FARD) Director Mr Milton Makumbe said aquaculture was the turning point in Zimbabwe’s economic growth through creation of employment for youths and women.

He said Government was working on establishing cold chain storage facilities across the country to minimise post-harvest losses.

“Through the concept note that was developed by FARD and shared with African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Programme for Improving Fisheries Governance and Blue Economy Trade Corridors (PROFISHBLUE) in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region for funding consideration, funds were made available for Zimbabwe for the procurement of refrigerated trucks that will be used to ferry fish,” said Mr Makumbe.

“The project was formulated on the understanding that SADC boasts thriving fishing enterprises with interconnected trade corridors.

“Aquaculture production in the region has inched from 69 851 to 100 950 tonnes annually with capture fisheries rising from 2, 3 to 3, 7million tonnes annually. This begs for post-harvest measures that can ensure the product stays fresh and adheres to food safety standards until the delivery point to the consumer on the domestic or regional market,” said Mr Makumbe.

Mr Makumbe added that Government was working towards the adoption of effective smoking and drying mechanisms from countries such as India, where some Government fisheries officers were recently trained in value addition and fish processing.

“There is value addition in the fish industry, which includes traditional gutting, smoking and drying that is prominent in small-scale fisheries and aquaculture. We are working in conjunction with World Fish where we got some training programmes,” said Mr Makumbe.

He also pointed out that dam stocking was now at its peak.

“The current conditions are optimum for dam stocking and we have intensified our operations countrywide. We have at least 300 000 fingerlings, the bulk of which are temporarily housed at the Henderson Research Institute in Mazowe awaiting further distribution,” said Mr Makumbe.

The Government delivered 5 000 fingerlings to Silalatshani Irrigation Scheme and another 5000 to Insiza Dam for the community project.

Another eight dams were also stocked with 5 000 unsexed fingerlings each on the same day.

Mr Makumbe urged communities to be cooperative and form committees to monitor the projects, adding that there must be a security team to control the fishing operations, especially from dams.

He added that the fish farming projects could improve food and nutrition security in the country.

Food security as defined by the United Nations Committee on world Food Security means that all people at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life.

Meanwhile, Silalatshani Irrigation Scheme vice chairperson Mr Absalom Tshuma commended the Government’s efforts to introduce fish projects in their community.

“We want to thank the Government for the support. The project will definitely change our lives. We will be able to get money for our children to go to school.  It will also improve our health through eating nutritious food. Our aim is to ensure that we keep this business unit viable and self-sustaining,” said Mr Tshuma.

He further said the project would help to recondition their irrigation kits and some other properties.

Farming has since improving my life through income earnings, said Mr Tshuma.

 

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