ZAMBIA – In an effort to tackle Zambia’s ongoing fish deficit, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries has unveiled an ambitious plan to eliminate the shortfall within the next three years, targeting the year 2026.

Livestock and Fisheries Minister Makozo Chikote disclosed that the country currently grapples with a deficit estimated at around 35 metric tons of fish based on 2022 data.

In an interview with the Zambian Business Times (ZBT), Minister Chikote outlined a series of comprehensive interventions designed to enhance fish production.

At the heart of these measures was the introduction of the aquaculture intervention, a multifaceted approach that includes robust support for farmers through the Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development Project (ZAEDP).

Chikote highlighted that farmers can now access affordable loans ranging from K150,000 and beyond, with collateral only required for amounts exceeding K500,000.

“This financial backing aims to motivate fish farmers and stimulate increased production to bridge the current deficit,” he said.

In addition, he highlighted that aiming to bolster the success of these interventions, the ministry has invested in training individuals in the field, ensuring they can provide essential extension services to farmers.

“This strategy is pivotal in keeping farmers abreast of the latest interventions in aquaculture, effectively transforming fish farming into a viable and sustainable business,” he added.

Additionally, the ministry is actively working to address the challenge of the high cost of feed, a persistent obstacle in the aquaculture sector.”

Chikote acknowledged the complexities surrounding fingerling production, citing logistical challenges faced by farmers in acquiring fingerlings from remote locations.

Meanwhile, to overcome this hurdle, the ministry has introduced the Aqua pack, aimed at facilitating the transportation of fingerlings to various regions, thereby eliminating barriers for farmers.

Looking ahead, Chikote expressed the ministry’s intent to collaborate with partners to establish hatcheries in potential areas, ensuring widespread access to fingerlings.

The involvement of the private sector is also a focal point, with plans to encourage fish feed production at an affordable price.

Minister Chikote’s vision is optimistic, foreseeing Zambia transitioning from a state of fish deficit to becoming a net exporter within the next two to three years if all proposed measures are successfully implemented.

He urged fish farmers to seize the opportunities created by the government, emphasizing the ongoing support through revolving funds beyond the conclusion of the ZAEDP project in December 2023.

In closing, Chikote assured farmers that the government is committed to creating a conducive environment for them to excel in the sector, fostering sustainable growth and self-sufficiency in Zambia’s fisheries industry.

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