By Machona Kasambala
‘We came here with the notion that we would be taught how to dig a pond and keep fish, but the knowledge we got during this training goes beyond our initial expectations’ says Amanda Nakazwe.
‘We are now able to identify the different species of fish that can be cultured in Zambia, appreciate the biology of the fish, grow the fish and develop business plans’
She says their training expectations went beyond their imaginations to include value addition through smoking, salting, drying and making pies among other techniques they learnt to get better prices or value from fish.
Amanda is one of the 155 incubates from cohorts 7,8 and 9 who recently graduated from the National Aquaculture Resources Development Centre (NARDC) at Mwekera in Kitwe.
She, like others trainees drawn from 83 districts across the ten provinces of Zambia were at NARDC attending a six months Zambia Aquaculture Entrepreneurs’ Incubation Programme (ZAEIP) under the Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development Programme (ZAEDP).
‘Fish farming as a profitable business was reinforced during our field visits and attachment which made our passion for fish farming grow as we were able to get first-hand information from established fish farms’ Amanda said.
She says practical exercises from NARDC and the industry were wonderful experiences which will help the graduates become even more successful aquaculture entrepreneurs.
However, for the graduates to start contributing to national development through the aquaculture value chain, Amanda has a request to Fisheries and Livestock Permanent Secretary Benson Mwenya who came to grace their graduation.
‘Guest of Honour, we have acquired the knowledge, we have the land and great passion has been stirred up within us through the training. We humbly request that funds will be made available to us within the shortest possible time,’ she says.
She says the incubates were grateful for the initiative to create ZAEDP which is empowering women and young people in Zambia to become aqua-preneurs across the aquaculture value chain.
‘We recommend to government to have more such programs which are critical to the development’ Amanda added.
And Dr. Mwenya disclosed that the African Development Bank has already released the funds and they will soon be disbursed to the citizens.
Dr. Mwenya says he is aware that the funds have delayed and his ministry is doing everything possible to see to it that funds for other value chain nodes are also disbursed.
‘All the logistics with the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission
(CEEC) are almost finalised, I can assure you that you will soon get the funds. Our desire is to disburse US10.3 million this year,’ Dr Mwenya said.
He said government through his ministry has also established an aquaculture risk sharing fund where those that are trained through the incubation programme are linked to if they so wish.
‘My ministry is also linking the trained cadres to other initiatives such as the matching grants under the Enhanced – Smallholder Agribusiness Promotion Programme (E-SAPP) in the ministry of agriculture,’ he says.
Dr. Mwenya says the rationale for this linkage is to assist willing Zambians to access finance at reduced cost since government is absorbing part of the risk.
‘You may wish to note that government has already started disbursing the funds. So far a total of K17.7 million has been disbursed to 13 hatcheries, creating a total of 236 direct jobs thereby impacting on
1,180 household individuals,’ he adds.
He says once the hatcheries become fully operational, a total of 63 million fingerlings will be produced annually.
‘I am pleased to inform the country that some hatcheries have already started offloading fingerlings to the market and so far 19.2 million fingerlings have been produced,’ Dr. Mwenya says.
The Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development Project is a US50.8 million aquaculture project financed by the government of Zambia and the African Development Bank (AfDB) and was launched President Edgar Chagwa Lungu on 21st October 2017.
ZAEDP is in line with the aspirations of the Seventh National Development Plan under the theme ‘accelerating development efforts towards the vision 2030 without leaving anyone behind’ which has recognised aquaculture as an opportunity for the country to bridge the fish deficit which is estimated at 87,000 metric tons.
The project is supporting citizens across the fish value chain by addressing the challenges facing the aquaculture sector such as finger production, fish feed production and finance.
About 1,000 incubates are expected to be trained by 2022 through the Out Grower Development Scheme under ZAEDPs component one which is support to aquaculture entrepreneurs.
Director of Fisheries Department in the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock Patrick Ngalande says the objective of the incubation training programme is to capacitate Zambians with knowledge and skills in aquaculture value chain including aquaculture as a business.
Mr. Ngalande says the trainees undergo technical and business hands on training including an attachment at a either a private or private fish farm or any establishment involved in aquaculture related activities in the aquaculture value chain.
Mr. Ngalande says the programme is bearing fruits as most of the former trainees are setting up fish farms for themselves and for others.
‘Some have set up their own businesses while others have been attached to big commercial fish farms on out-grower scheme basis’ Mr. Ngalande says.
Mr. Ngalande is hopeful that the trained colleagues will help increase production of fish from aquaculture and consequently increase fish consumption per capita in Zambia which currently stands at 9 kilogrammes.
Selection for training is nationwide and open to every Zambian who meets the basic requirements but the programme is skewed towards women and youth. NAIS