ZIMBABWE – After a sharp decline in 2021, Zimbabwe’s aquaculture sector is showing signs of recovery, with 6,807.01 tonnes of fish recorded in 2022, a 25% increase from the previous year.

The dip in 2021, attributed to high production costs and a fragmented industry, prompted the government’s intervention measures to support the sector.

The Fisheries and Aquaculture Resources Production Department expert, Ms Lorraine Kudakwashe Salimu, acknowledged the challenges faced by the industry, including a lack of interest from financiers due to the long-term nature of fish farming compared to other quick-return agricultural projects.

She emphasized the need for financing models that align with the unique characteristics of aquaculture.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean government is committed to achieving a US$1 billion fish industry by 2030, with initiatives such as the Command Fisheries Programme.

Eight breeding sites and 460 fish ponds have already been established across the country to ensure an adequate supply of fingerlings to meet the anticipated high demand.

The Command Fisheries Programme, launched in 2017, aims to contribute to food provision, promote health through improved diets, and alleviate poverty.

If fully utilized, the country’s dams have the potential to produce at least 1.5 million tonnes of fish per year, generating significant revenue and supporting over 1.2 million people at the primary production level.

The government has also focused on training individuals to produce fish feed tailored to different agro-ecological regions.

The goal is to stock 1,200 dams and increase Zimbabwe’s per capita fish consumption to 13 kilograms by 2025.

The introduction of community gardens with fish ponds and various dam projects has created fish hotspots, fostering the growth of commercial fish farming and income generation for participating households.

In a statement, Ms Salimu noted that the aquaculture sector has been grappling with the challenge of failing to woo financiers to inject funds to sustain the business.

 “Fish farming is not a quick money-making scheme like other farming projects where you know that in one season you will have a big profit.”

However, despite the sector’s challenges, experts believe that with a dedicated policy addressing operational standards and attracting investors, Zimbabwe’s aquaculture industry can continue its upward trajectory.

Ms Salimu emphasized the need for a stand-alone policy to enforce key operational standards, biosecurity protocols, quality fish seed production, and input standards, providing the industry with a competitive edge.

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