Zimbabwe Fish Producers Association (ZFPA) stated that the country’s aquaculture sector can produce “20 000 metric tonnes of fish, creating 10 000 direct jobs and another 10 000 indirect ones”. fish farming has proven to be a workable investment that guarantees a profitable return if practised correctly. Given the fact that the correct farming requirements for aquaculture are relatively manageable as compared to other high stake agricultural practises.
The majority of small scale fish farmers in Zimbabwe practice pond culture with the more affluent farmers managing to utilise tanks or cages (specifically those with a sufficiently large water body on their farms). Pond culture requires the construction of a pond on a suitable site (with access to potable water and logistically economic). Most small scale farmers use dam-liners which drastically reduces the cost of pond construction and this also has an environmental advantage in relation to sustainable agricultural practices.
“Zimbabwe already boasts one of the largest fish farming operation in Sothern Africa and there is scope to grow small scale commercial fish production too in the country which holds 60 percent of all dammed water in the SADC region and has desirable climatic conditions for freshwater aquaculture,” as stated by ZFPA. The species of fish most cultivated is the Nile tilapia (due to its wide temperature tolerance range and it high resistance for diseases), the trout (which specifically requires lower temperature ranges therefore its farming is restricted to the eastern highlands where the temperature are suitable for its culture) and Kapenta.
Fish farming is one of the fastest growing food producing sector in the world and has a key role to play in feeding an increasing world population, as fish can be produced more efficiently and cost-effectively than most meat proteins. It can therefore be argued that fish farming business is highly profitable. However in Zimbabwe, the aquaculture value chain present minimises the assumed profits associated with fish farming due to challenges namely;
- limited aquaculture equipment suppliers thus low supplies
- overpriced poor quality fish feeds
- low quality fish seed stock
The success of Zimbabwean aquaculture is however to a greater extent hindered by non quantifiable flaws such as inaccurate dissemination of information by uniformed/unprofessional sources and at worst, by alleged aquaculture consultants. The widespread of incorrect information in tandem to aquaculture practices creates a ripple effect in which fish farmers exhibit malapropos aqua-cultural behaviours which unfortunately will be regarded as a norm due to widespread practices. Unavoidably, the inevitable consequence for such aforementioned, is closure of said ventures. The misinformed fish farming victims then turn into culprits that disseminate the commonly viewed perception of high business costs or exerggerated difficulties associated with aquaculture which is ferociously untrue. Statistically, aquaculture and associated services are grouped amongst the highest the highest paying protein based farming ventures in the region.
Other flaws come from the farmers’ ignorance on fish farming regulation and the existence of organisations such as ZFPA (Zimbabwe fish producer association) and ANAF (Aquaculture Network of Africa).
The emergence of companies such as Kantry Farm Systems (KFS) was then motivated in a bid to address the less practised farming practises such as aquaculture and mycoculture. KFS’ mission, is to assist by all means possible in the emerging aqua-cultural revolution and other associated unpopular farming practises. The main goal of KFS is encouragement of commercialisation of farming practises which are not common in Zimbabwe or in the SADC region thus reducing the need of importation of exotic foods and increase exportation of such in its stead. One major objective to be met to attain such a goal is to educate and increase awareness so as to change the negative perception associated with aquaculture in this case and promote diversified farming practises. KFS boasts of a highly informed, innovative, professional and of cause charismatic administration whose mandate is to teach correct aqua-cultural practises that brings about optimum yields from lean production practises.
ZFPA believes that fish production in Zimbabwe will grow significantly, with aquaculture proudly taking its place alongside the chicken, pork and beef industries as a key supplier of tasty, nutritious, home-grown protein for a growing population and KFS works on ensuring this achievement.