KABANDA CHULU, Lusaka
INADEQUATE financial support to extension services in the fisheries sub-sector will continue having a negative impact despite the increasing investment in the industry by Government and cooperating partners.
Last week, Minister of Fisheries and Livestock Michael Katambo announced that a loan facility worth US$50 million has been secured from the African Development Bank to support over 12,000 people intending to venture into fish farming with emphasis on women and the youth.
Aquaculture Development of Zambia (ADAZ) trustee Fisho Mwale said though there is high potential in the aquaculture sector, which has the ability to improve people’s livelihoods, lack of support to extension services is an impediment.
“However, aquaculture faces many constraints that require various interventions from Government if the sector is to develop and evolve to the level that safeguards the interest of all stakeholders involved in the aquaculture across the value chain.
“This implies that the environment around aquaculture needs to be favourable and conducive for one to thrive in this business. The fisheries sector lacks adequate extension services being offered in the localities where fish farming has high potential for growth,” Mr Mwale said.
He said there is no corresponding allocation of extension delivery support tools to cope with the demand for the services
“With meagre resources available, there seems to be thin redistribution of resources within the Fisheries Department to an extent that there seems to be no tangible impact on delivery of extension services.
“Lack of extension services has resulted in poor performance by those that have dared to engage in farm fish production. Challenges include lack of training programmes in management of fish on ponds as well as on cages,” Mr Mwale said.
He said new innovations such as use of cages and pens face challenges of knowledge and experience.
“We need extension officers to facilitate these aspects, including the acquisition of aquaculture equipment to mechanise the pond establishment, cage establishment accessories that are often imported, fish feed production equipment, among other things.
“Local training institutions in fisheries and aquaculture seem not to produce extension agents who can respond to the technical needs of today.
“There is a vast gap in knowledge with regard to fish farming and for a successful transformation of the sector,” he said.