Tilapia production increases amid growing popularity

 

Ashton Mutyavaviri

 

PRODUCTION of the Nile tilapia is on the ascension, recording a 35 percent increase from 4 949 tonnes in the 2021/22 season to 6 704 tonnes the following span, as more people venture into producing it.

 

The Second Round Crop, Livestock and Fisheries Assessment (CLAFA2) 2023/23 Season indicates that production of Nile tilapia peaked in the 2015/16 season at 10 510 tonnes but declined to 4 949 tonnes for the 2021/22 term. It, however, rose by 35 percent in the 2022/23 season, thanks to the promotion of pond culture, especially under the Presidential Community Fisheries Scheme.

 

Pond area increased from 154, 9 in 2021/22 season to 175, 8 in the 2022/23.

 

One large-scale producer, who accounts for over 90 percent of all farmed Tilapia in the country, has also recorded a decline in yields due to high feed costs-induced viability problems.

 

There is need to encourage, promote and support cage aquaculture in all the 10 600 dams across the country.

 

The Presidential Community Fisheries Scheme is expected to continue to boost aquaculture at village level through the targeted 70 000 fish ponds across the country’s 35 000 villages.

 

Fish farming is dominated by Nile tilapia followed by Rainbow trout while the other farmed species contribute a very small proportion to the production levels.

 

Meanwhile, Fisheries and Aquaculture Resource Department (FARD) director in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Mr Milton Makumbe said many people were now venturing into tilapia fish farming due to the change in food consumption patterns and health consciousness issues among consumers.

 

“Many people are now health conscious and have certain food preferences. Fish are a cheap source of protein with low cost of production, thus many people are taking part in the production process,” said Mr Makumbe.

He said most of the harvested fish are sold fresh or cured (dried, smoked or salted).

 

Further, value addition of fish to fillets and canning increased the value of marketed fish, he observed.

 

He highlighted that Government was working on the adoption of effective smoking and drying mechanisms from countries such as India, where some fisheries officers were trained in value addition and fish processing.

 

The Government has taken decisive actions to promote fish value addition and processing in a move that enhances the growth of the fisheries sector.

 

It is working closely with development partners to ensure the country achieves a US$1 billion fish industry by 2030.

 

Globally, more than one billion people derive their protein and micronutrients from fish, while in sub-Saharan Africa, it is the main or only source of protein to more than 20 percent of the population.

 

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