The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock has approved 736 aquaculture business loan applications from Zambians across the country valued at 118.3 million kwacha.
Fisheries and Livestock permanent secretary Benson Mwenya said the projects under the framework of the 50.89 million United States dollars Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development Project (ZAEDP) are meant to promote the aquaculture sub sector as a viable and inclusive business.
Dr. Mwenya said his ministry through ZAEDP’s Aquaculture Seed Fund has since released 10.3 million United States dollars to the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) who are the fund managers and directed them to start disbursements without any delays.
‘I therefore implore CEEC to start the disbursements of the funds without delay as our ministry is diligently implementing strategies that are aimed at reducing the fish deficit which is estimated at 87,000 tons annually’
Dr. Mwenya said ZAEDP which is co-financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Government of the Republic of Zambia targets to enhance production and productivity of fish along the aquaculture value chain.
Speaking in a statement released to National Agricultural Information Services, Dr. Mwenya said his ministry has decided to look inwardly for funds to sustainably improve livelihoods of project beneficiaries amidst the COVID 19 pandemic.
Dr. Mwenya said the 736 aquaculture business loan projects approved are in addition to the 12 fish hatcheries and nurseries in all the 10 provinces of Zambia approved last year.
‘In 2019, we approved 12 projects valued at K20.7 million and these are already receiving funds through CEEC’, Dr Mwenya said.
He said the ZAEDP’s Aquaculture Seed Fund initiative will create 4,366 sustainable jobs resulting in an impact on the livelihoods of about 21,830 individuals countrywide.
‘Through this initiative, our ministry also envisions an increase in aquaculture production in Zambia by 1,148 metric tons by the end of December 2020’ Dr. Mwenya added.
Dr. Mwenya said the development of the aquaculture value chain will significantly contribute to poverty reduction, food and nutritional security in the country.
Meanwhile CEEC Director General Likando Mukumbuta has confirmed receipt of the $10.3 million Aquaculture Seed Fund from the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock.
Mr. Mukumbuta said the release of the funds is an important moment in the development of the country this year in line with government’s industrialization and job creation strategy.
He said the commission expects to move quickly as directed by the ministry of fisheries and livestock and hopes to start disbursing the funds by the 30th of May.
‘Our expectation is to conclude training of all fund beneficiaries next week and also expect to reach all the 736 plus more beneficiaries connected to this funding by the end of the year”, Mukumbuta said,
Mr. Mukumbuta said CEEC is expecting that all of the loans will be fully invested this year.
‘I am very confident that as we receive more funding from the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, the commission will be able to disburse more grants to beneficiaries of the ZAEDP.