PRISCILLA MWILA, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has acquired a US$50 million loan from the African Development Bank to improve the fish industry in the country.
And Minister of Fisheries and Livestock Michael Katambo said 50 percent of the loan will target 12,000 women and youth fish farming entrepreneurs countrywide.
Mr Katambo said in an interview yesterday that the move follows President Lungu’s directive for the ministry to ensure that women and the youth in the fishing trade are empowered with resources to sustain themselves and their businesses.
“We have acquired a US$50 million loan of which 50 percent of this money will target women and the youth in various provinces. We cannot be importing fish when we have the potential to grow the industry,” he said.
Mr Katambo said the investment in the aquaculture industry is part of Government’s agenda to diversify the economy to avoid dependence on copper.
He said Zambia has a deficit of 85,000 metric tonnes of fish, hence the need to ensure that fish entrepreneurs are adequately supported for them to contribute to national development.
Zambia has vast natural water bodies that can be used to grow the fishing industry.
He said President Lungu has also directed the ministry to ensure that Zambia becomes a major exporter of fish in the next two years.
Mr Katambo said currently, Zambia is unable to sell fish on the international market due to low productivity levels.
He, however, said Government is working towards increasing productivity through many initiatives.
Mr Katambo said the ministry will soon launch the aquaculture development project to mark the start of the empowerment programme.
He encouraged members of the public, especially the youth and women, to take advantage of the opportunity to improve their livelihood and contribute to national development.
Mr Katambo said young people are custodians of Zambia’s future, hence the need for them to be responsible and prepare to take part in various sectors.