More investment in fish industry to boost economy
Published On February 21, 2024 » 1110 Views» By Times Reporter » Business, Columns
 0 stars
Register to vote!

DEFINED by experts as the breeding, raising, and harvesting of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants or simply farming in water, the aquaculture industry is crucial in creating a self-sustaining economy.
The ‘song’ about Zambia having the most waters at 40 per cent in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) should be accompanied by sound investments in the fisheries industry.
Fish in natural waters have been facing serious depletion in the past 10 years due to over fishing and the employing of unorthodox fishing methods.
What is needed now is practical policy measures to boost fish production among other interventions.
Zambia’s total fish production is just over 100,000 tonnes of which about 85,000 tonnes come from fisheries, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries has promised to eliminate the current fish deficit in the country in three years by 2026.
Recently, Livestock and Fisheries Minister Makozo Chikote was quoted as saying the the country still had a deficit of about 74,000 tonnes of fish based on 2022 estimates.
The country is on the right track to be self-sufficient and probably become a net exporter of fish if concerted efforts by government and other stakeholders to mobilise farmers’ involvement in the fisheries value chain.
Zambians should embrace fish farming to satisfy local demand and look for the export market and time is now.
A look at the 2024 national budget shows a lot of interventions which if implemented can boost fish production and create an export-oriented economy to complement the mining industry which since independence has been contributing not less than 70 per cent towards the foreign exchange earnings.
In the 2024 budget, Finance and National Planning Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane tackled the issue of fingerling production which has been a hindrance to the development of the fisheries subsector .
He revealed that in 2024, the Government would establish three hatcheries in three aquaculture parks in Kasempa, Mushindamo and Samfya Districts in addition to the 18 hatcheries already established.
This will increase fingerling production to 433.4 million in 2024 from the current 302 million which if implemented would provide the much-needed revolution in the industry characterised by a myriad of challenges hindering growth.
The Government committed in the budget to also promote sustainable capture fisheries through enforcement of fishing bans and enhanced surveillance of our water bodies.
Other interventions under aqua and capture fisheries will be to reduce the national fish deficit to 52,000 tonnes in 2024 from 74,000 in 2023.
To unlock the potential of the agriculture sector and seize export opportunities while ensuring domestic food security, the Government, working in collaboration with cooperating partners, is resolved to establish an agriculture credit window.
This will support small scale farmers, emergent farmers, and public service workers with affordable financing to procure inputs, equipment and irrigation systems, among others.
It is up to the entrepreneurs to take advantage of the provisions in the budget and outside the budget to engage in fish farming and drive benefits that will contribute to the general poverty reduction .
It does not make sense to see rural communities endowed with a huge water expanse living in squarer because they fail to engage in ventures like fish farming . A new thinking by policy makers and the citizenry needs to be developed to create an ‘economic revolution’ that ends poverty .
There is also a need to promote other aquatic products like crocodile farming as it is becoming another source of meat for the new generation.
Crocodile skin also fetches high prices on the local and international markets because of its use variation from being used as a raw material for hand bags, shoes to belts and other products.
Looking at the Government’s developmental blueprints, it is in plain language that the Government wants Zambians to increasingly participate in the economy as can be seen by various budgetary allocations to key sectors of the economy . What is lacking is the drive by the citizens to get involved in the running of the economy through tapping into various empowerment programmes and raising the much needed capital.
From my interactions with experts in the fishery industry, I have learnt that it is less costly and tedious to grow fish in comparison with chicken.
The fish can be reared in the backyard provided a pond is stocked with fresh water from the river.
Despite the slow pace at which production of aquatic products is moving in the country, progress is being made.
Zambia is now ranked among the highest producers of tilapia fish which is encouraging but there is need not to relent in pushing for more farmers to engage in fish and crocodile farming among other aquatic species.

Share this post
Tags

About The Author