HELEN ZULU –
LUAPULA Province is experiencing a depletion of fish due to poor fishing methods which have been compounded by lack of investment in irrigation farming.
Lack of irrigation efforts has hampered diversification from fish farming to potential agricultural cash crops to make people move away from the overdependence on fish.
Luapula Province Minister Brigadier General Benson Kapaya urged Zambians to invest in irrigation in the province to enable the farmers diversify from fishing to crop growing.
Gen Kapaya said farmers in the province should move away from fishing to growing of potential cash crops such as cassava and rice as overdependence on fishing had led to the depletion of fish in the province.
He said Luapula was endowed with water bodies hence the need for people to invest in irrigation so that people in the province could diversify from fishing to crop growing.
Luapula is currently experiencing fish depletion due to poor fishing practices, lack of appropriate fishing equipment and overdependence on the commodity by most of the people.
He said this at the on-going familiarisation tour of the province by a Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) team, the Finnish Ambassador to Zambia Timo Olkkonen and the minister’s delegation.
The group is identifying potential agricultural activities and to help find solutions to some of the challenges affecting development of the sector.
“Depletion of fish is yet another source of concern which needs concerted efforts, as a province lack of investment in irrigation has affected the diversification of fish farming to growing other potential agricultural cash crops which has led to the depletion of fish in the rivers.
“Luapula as you may be aware is endowed with water bodies and my earnest appeal is for the people to come and invest in irrigation so that our people can one day diversify to crop growing from fishing,” he said.
Gen Kapaya has, however, called on fish farmers and patrol officers to take up the responsibility of ensuring that fish farmers do not practice poor farming methods and illegal fishing as it threatens the development of the industry.
He said there was also need to invest heavily in fish caging so as to cope with the growing demand of fishing activities in the province.
Earlier, Mr Olkkonen said he was saddened by the depletion of fish in the province especially that it is the main source of income among the people.
He said Luapula has the potential to produce fish both for consumption and for sale due to the vast water bodies.