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Thursday, 21 March 2019 11:24

Fish farming a viable business –expert

Written by  Salome Gangire
Mzuzu Fisheries Station workers display fish from one of their ponds, pic by Salome Gangire - Mana Mzuzu Fisheries Station workers display fish from one of their ponds, pic by Salome Gangire - Mana

Mzuzu, March 21, 2019:  Fish Farming is a viable business as it pays back the fixed cost within one production year, a fisheries officer has said.

Mzuzu Fish Farming Course Centre Manager, David Mbamba said an investment in a one-hectare pond cost about K9 million and it produces six tonnes of fish which if sold produces about K15 million.

Mbamba was speaking Tuesday during a media tour of Mzuzu Fisheries Station and progressive fish farmers in Mzuzu.

“Fish farming is a viable business, for instance if you invest K9 million in a one-hectare pond and harvest six tonnes of fish within one production circle and sell at K2,500.00 per kilogram you can get K15 million,” Mbamba said.

He then encouraged farmers in the country to join the fish farming business as it is an entrepreneurship that pays back the fixed cost within one production circle.

Mbamba said Mzuzu Fisheries Station as a demonstration equips fish farmers with fish farming technologies such as feeding,

“We have intensified production as in the past we used to harvest 1.4 tonnes per hectare but now, we harvest six tonnes due to change of feeding regime that we have introduced,” he said.

One of the fish farmers in Mzuzu City, Odoi Mwangonde encouraged Malawians to embark on fish farming as it has high profit margins.

“I started with one fish pond in 2011 but today as you can see, I have managed to procure 3.5 hectares of land for fish farming and now I have 11 fish ponds,” said Mwangonde.

Mwangonde asked government to put in place deliberate policies that can help the industry to grow.

“For example, in Malawi, there are inadequate quality fingerlings as we do not have qualified producers of fingerlings as a result most farmers produce their own fingerlings thereby compromising the quality of fish,” he said.

Mwangonde said in other countries such as Zambia and China fingerling producers cannot be fish farmers and the same should be applied to Malawi to improve the industry.

He said there are no fish feed manufacturers in the country and that this forces farmers to be feeding their fish with maize husks which slows down fish growth.

He said farmers have to imported quality fish feed from Zambia which he said is expensive.

“Another challenge is that farmers in Malawi stock indigenous fish yet our colleagues in Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique are raise exotic breeds which grow fast,” Mwangonde said.

Chief Fisheries Extension Officer in the Department of Fisheries, Alban Pulaizi said government is promoting commercialisation of fish farming by promoting small scale fish farmers to become medium scale farmers.

“In the past, most farmers were involved in subsistence fish farming but with globalization, we want them to be practicing commercial fish farming,” said Pulaizi

He acknowledged that the demand for fingerlings is increasing yearly and that the department is failing to meet the demand because fingerlings’ production centres are far apart.

“So far, people buy fingerlings at Domasi in Zomba which is our national aquaculture centre, Mzuzu Fish Farming Centre and Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources,” he said.

 He said the department trained fingerlings’ producers whom he said do not meet the demand on the market and that plans are underway to train additional producers.