PATSON PHIRI, Lusaka
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has given Zambia US$50 million for increased production, breeding and fingering of fish in the country to help stem a shortage estimated at 74,000 metric tonnes.
Minister of Fisheries and Livestock Michael Katambo said in an interview during the week that the money from AfDB will also help boost the economy through the granting of loans to women, youth and other farmers.
Apart from the US$50 million from AfDB, the Zambian government has allocated K10 million in this yearâ€™s national budget for development of aquaculture parks, cage farming, fish feed production and fingerling production.
â€œThe official per capita fish consumption in Zambia is 6 kilogrammes. However, the fish consumption requirement per capita income in Zambia is 12 kg per person per year. Given the population of Zambia, which stands at 15.5 million now, the total fish requirement for the country stands at 186,000 metric tons, which leaves a deficit of about 74,000 metric tons,â€ Mr Katambo said.
The minister explained that the measures will help address the fish consumption deficit the country is facing and eventually make the country a net exporter of fish in about five to 10 years.
Mr Katambo said the Aquaculture Productivity and Market Enhancement Project (APMEP) is supporting the promotion of aquaculture infrastructure development such as construction of fish ponds, production of fingerlings, promotion of cage farming aquaculture parks in Lusaka, Central and North Western provinces.
The total amount for aquaculture development under this project is US$9,702,000 covering the period 2014 to 2018.
Mr Katambo also said the private sector, which has over the years invested in fish production, has pledged to invest US$10 million in fish production to supply the Zambian market.
Meanwhile, Mr Katambo has said the ravaging armyworms are fast depleting following sustained interventions by the government and other stakeholders.
Mr Katambo said recent assessments show that the armyworms are losing their effect but the government will not relax until the pests, which attack maize, are completely wiped out.
He said Zambians should still expect a high crop production reminiscent of the bumper harvests recorded in the past farming seasons.
The minister urged farmers across the country to continue forwarding reports about the prevalence of armyworms in their area.
PATSON PHIRI, Lusaka