Zhovhe Dam fishery project to drive rural development

A major fishery is now being implemented at the Zhovhe Dam, about 70km west of Beitbridge town, as the centre for production of fish fingerlings for farming in fish ponds by over 16 000 Zimbabweans across four provinces.

The project is expected to promote rural development and boost food and nutrition security.

It will run for five years in line with the National Development Strategy 1, subject to further review.

Training of staff and distribution of the breeding stock is underway and the Zhovhe farm has 24 floating cages, each with a carrying capacity of 100 000 fish.

Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Davis Marapira launched the programme last Friday at Zhovhe Dam.

He stocked the dam with 12 000 fingerlings, while the fish pond at Ndambe irrigation project received 4 000 fingerlings and thousands others were handed over to 17 farmers who have fishponds in the Ward 14 resettlement area.

Deputy Minister Marapira said the Government intended to stock the dam with over one million fingerlings.

“This project is part of the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy which was launched in 2020,” he said.

“The strategy has formed the basis for our input into the National Development Strategy 1.

“The fish industry in Zimbabwe has a great potential to increase production of fish from the current levels of around 20 000 tonnes per year against a demand of 60 000 tonnes annually.

“So, this is a step closer to our vision and a self-sustaining economy. The country is endowed with 10 000 dams and a conducive climate for fish production.”

Government has partnered with Toppick Investments, the proprietors of Zhovhe Farm, to run the project in Matabeleland South.

The aim of the project is to improve the fishing industry and boost the capacity of communities, especially those engaged in horticulture, to produce more.

“Today, we stocked the dam and another fish pond at Ndambe Communal Irrigation to mark the start of this massive project where we are targeting to stock 1 million fingerlings at this dam,” he said.

“Already, we have a team on the ground at Zhovhe, which has carried out initial training and setting up at the farm and community.

“This is a project we are rolling out countrywide and for the Zhovhe project, Toppick has the hatchery facilities and we are providing the stock and the actual knowledge on fish farming and aquaculture.”

Deputy Minister Marapira said the Zhovhe Fisheries will produce fingerlings mainly for communities in parts of Bulawayo, Masvingo, Matabeleland South and Midlands provinces.

In addition, the programme will cut transport and related costs of the breeding stock from areas like Kariba.

Deputy Minister Marapira said selected horticulture and irrigation-related projects in the selected four provinces would benefit from the food value chain that comes with fish farming.

“The creation of more cold chain facilities will ensure that the country has enough fish stocks throughout the year even in winter where fish production is relatively low,” he said.

“To increase fish production, refurbishment and the establishment of hatcheries at Government fisheries units and partnerships with private players such as Toppick Fish Farm, have been established.

“This will aid in fish production, fish consumption and nutrition, all at affordable prices. A total of 16 000 households are set to benefit from this Presidential Community Fisheries Scheme.”

Enough resources have been mobilised to ensure the breeding stock and feed is readily available.

Government is making effective use of water bodies across the country to boost incomes, food production and boost the people’s nutrition. The fish projects are running concurrently with irrigation development and horticulture.

Deputy Minister Marapira said efforts to build the capacity of individuals and cooperatives to increase production in their areas were underway.

“Restocking of community dams is also one of the programmes and the Government is aiming to serve its people on all aspects of agriculture productivity and aquaculture is not an exception,” he said.

“As a ministry, the thrust is to increase employers rather than employees and through such initiatives, the country will soon be in a position to unlock the potential of our agriculture sector.

“I urge rural communities to take advantage of the enabling environment created by the Government and grow the aquaculture and fisheries businesses.”

Project team leader Mrs Amini Madzivanyika said training of the project implementers was ongoing so that everything was done according to the book to maximise production.

She said the Zhovhe project will produce mainly the green head breams and Nile tilapia breams that are common in the area.

These, she said, were of high quality and they expect them to have matured for the market within eight months.

Matabeleland South Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Dr Evelyn Ndlovu said since Matabeleland South was in an arid province largely in ecological regions 4 and 5, the Presidential Fisheries Programme will radically transform the lives of thousands of households in the area.

A farmer at Ndambe Irrigation Scheme, Mrs Takalani Mbedzi, commended Government for its rural transformation programme.

“As women we appreciate this kind of support from our leaders and I hope that more community members will embrace this initiative and we should take aquaculture as a business and participate in the different aquaculture value chains,” she said.

A youthful farmer from Mazunga Ward 14, Miss Athingahangwi Ncube, said the programme was a welcome relief as families will now have improved livelihoods and youths would be empowered to fully participate in national economic development.

Toppick Investments chief executive officer Mr Danisa Moyo said the fisheries project will not only boost the economy of local communities, but also help them create more jobs at the hatchery.

Toppick had partnered the Government in the project to complement its national development goals and the attainment of Vision 2030 of an empowered upper-middle income society.

Experts say mature female tilapia fish can lay eggs every three to four months (from the 12th week in the case of the Nile tilapia).

They lay their eggs in nests made by the males, then carry the fertilised eggs in their mouths until they hatch, before keeping the fingerlings close until they are big and strong enough (10 millimetres).

In addition, the tilapia breed is a fast growing fish and it can live for up to 10 years and reach 4,5kg in weight.

Herald

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