ZAMBIA – The government of Zambia through the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock has approved 736 aquaculture project business loan applications valued at over K118.3 million, funded through the Aquaculture Seed Fund.

The Aquaculture Seed Fund aims to boost aquaculture business investment in the country and eliminate the national deficit in fish production, contribute to economic growth, as well as increase food and nutrition security in Zambia by 2022.

According to a Lusaka Times report, this initiative is within the framework of the US$50.89 million Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development Project co-financed by the African Development Bank and the Zambian Government.

Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock Permanent Secretary, Dr. Benson Mwenya said the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) will disburse the business loans on behalf of the ministry.

He said more projects will be funded in due course but explained that the projects exclude the 12 fish hatcheries and nurseries valued at K20.7 million that are already receiving funds.

CEEC Director General Likando Mukumbuta who confirmed receipt of the funds from the ministry stated that disbursement of the funds will begin soon by first offering pre-finance training to the beneficiaries.

The first phase of investments will be fully issued by the end of May 2020, and is targeted to create 4,366 sustainable jobs and increase national fish supply by 1,148 metric tons by December 2020.

According to World Fish Center, the country’s total fish production is just over 100,000metric tons, of which around 85,000 metric tons comes from fisheries.

The aquaculture sector, which is still in its infancy, contributes around 30,000 metric tons (27% of total fish production).

Fish consumption is low at 5.9 kg/person/year. The major cause of low fish consumption is lack of production, hence the need for increased efforts to farm fish.