Sadc nudges aquaculture as it seeks economic development Mr Dzenga . . .youths can self employ and earn foreign currency from fishery projects.

Richard Muponde-Zimpapers Politics Hub

The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) is vigorously embarking on fisheries and aquaculture projects in member states to champion economic development.

This is line with the bloc’s Protocol on Fisheries and Aquaculture adopted in 2001, which all countries in the region are compelled to ratify and implement. 

The regional bloc discovered that the fisheries and aquaculture sector has the potential to champion economic development in member states and the region as a whole. 

In May 2022, Sadc ministers responsible for Agriculture and Food Security, Fisheries and Aquaculture met in Malawi and made a statement after the joint meeting whose objective was to consider and review implementation of policies and strategies aimed at advancing the agriculture and food and nutrition security, fisheries and aquaculture production and productivity in the region.

The ministers approved the report on implementation of the protocol on fisheries which provides updated information on the extent to which member states had implemented the it and highlighting success stories where meaningful progress had been made. 

Ministers also urged member states that had not acceded to the protocol to do so without further delay for the region to move in coordination. 

Cooperating partners – the African Development Bank (AfDB), European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF), Water Research Commission (WRC), World Fish and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) –  were commended by the ministers for supporting the implementation of regional programmes and operationalisation of the RAIP for supporting Sadc in implementation of priority regional programmes across the sectors.

Member states are working diligently to implement a wide number of recommendations supporting regional agricultural efficiencies, including the 2021/2022 Synthesis Report on the State of Food and Nutrition Security and Vulnerability in the SADC Region.

According to experts, actively pursuing development in fisheries and aquaculture as a means to drive regional economic development will ensure economic well-being and improve the standards of living within the region. 

There are already some success stories in Botswana, Malawi and Namibia that are likely to be highlighted at the forthcoming SADC Summit in Harare in August. 

Germany’s development agency, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), piloted the project on aligning regional and national aquaculture strategic frameworks in SADC to strengthen national and regional linkages towards achieving regional integration objectives.”

The objective of the project is to ensure alignment between regional and national levels within the context of sustainable aquaculture development in the three pilot countries of Botswana, Malawi and Namibia. 

Commenting on the success stories in the three countries, the regional grouping on its website said “this highlights the importance accorded by SADC ministers to this sector, and the timing of these development strategies has come at an opportune time with the region now searching for new economic activities to develop the region.”

The issue of the implementation of the protocol on fisheries and aquaculture will likely also top the agenda in Zimbabwe when the regional leaders gather for the 44th SADC summit in August where President Mnangagwa will assume the chairmanship of the regional bloc. 

According to experts, fisheries and aquaculture play a crucial role in the economic development of the region. 

Zimbabwe as a landlocked country possesses natural resources suitable for fish production, highlighting the potential for growth in this sector. 

The development of fisheries and aquaculture can contribute to addressing environmental scarcity and conflict, which are exacerbated by environmental degradation, population growth and climate change. 

Fisheries and aquaculture expert, Mr Aleck Dzenga, said aquaculture drives job creation, foreign exchange earnings, and entrepreneurial ventures, while aiding in habitat restoration and ecotourism.

“It complements other agricultural enterprises like horticulture, bee keeping, piggery and poultry,” Mr Dzenga said. 

“There has been positive response by new and already established farmers in Zimbabwe engaging in basic fish farming training, refresher courses and consulting experts in the field. The major challenge is information dissemination and resource distribution and not having reliable water sources and funding.”

Mr Dzenga said it was important that the youths in Zimbabwe and in the region to take up aquaculture as it was a game-changer and an economic development enabler. 

He said the forthcoming summit presents an opportune platform to address the challenges and opportunities in fisheries and aquaculture for regional economic development. 

“The summit can serve as a forum for member states to collaborate on strategies to boost production in this sector. By fostering regional integration, cooperation, and socio-economic development, the SADC region can capture high potential for economic growth,” he said. 

The 44th summit to be held in August in Harare will run under the theme: “Promoting innovation to unlock opportunities for sustainable economic growth and development towards an industrialised Sadc.”

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