Analysis: SHIKANDA KAWANGA
WHEN Zambia launched Volume One of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP), which runs from 2017 to 2021, the aim was to spur progress to meet the goals contained in Vision 2030.
The 7NDP dubbed accelerating development efforts towards Vision 2030 without leaving anyone behind, has a primary goal of creating a diversified and resilient economy for sustained growth and socio-economic transformation, driven by agriculture among other things.
Since the theme stresses the need of not leaving anyone behind, the need for women and youths to be active in contributing to economic growth cannot be overemphasised.
But well a call to women and youths to be part of Zambia’s development agenda is not enough if lucrative business ideas are not suggested especially because over the years they (women and youths) have been marginalised.
However, one viable business that can be considered is fish farming.
This is because fish is a favoured food in many households in Zambia which makes it have a ready market.
Suffice to say, this is not the only reason, according to remarks made by President Edgar Lungu in 2017, 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 the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Zambia is endowed with vast natural water bodies that can be used to grow the fishing industry.
It is, however, possible to ensure that Zambia becomes a major exporter of fish.
Currently the country is unable to sell fish on the international market due to low productivity.
Government is working towards increasing fish production through many initiatives.
It is worth noting that with the increased support by Government towards fish farmers, the future for fish farming in Zambia looks positive.
To augment this call so that women and youths can be enticed to undertake fish farming, Global Harvest Initiative deputy director Ann Steensland research findings states that fish farming is one of the most profitable business ventures in Zambia.
This is so especially in poor rural households where 37 percent of animal protein comes from fish, 24 percent from meats and 22 percent from poultry.
Ms Steensland’s findings also suggest that sixty percent of the calories Zambians consume come from maize, making fish a critical source of protein and micronutrients, especially in rural areas.
While consumption of poultry and meat is increasing across the country, dried and fresh fish remains the most affordable and accessible source of animal protein for the foreseeable future.
For those that would want to start the fish farming business, Shanika Chapman a holder of a Bachelor of Science in social science from the University of Maryland University College and also runs a successful business has been writing business-related articles since 2009 has a few hints of how to go about it.
Ms Chapman describes fish farming as a rewarding endeavour for someone who is willing to invest the time needed to thoroughly learn about it.
According to Ms Chapman operating a fish farm requires a good deal of physical labour and knowledge on the business.
She also says that there is need to also have a detailed business plan which includes water system, land for fish ponds, licenses, and start-up capital among others.
Ms Chapman also suggests that it is important that research on various species of fish to determine which ones would grow well in a particular area.
But most importantly, having ventured into fish farming for business purposes, it is important to consider anticipated costs, market for the fish and expected profits.
Above all it is cardinal to learn everything there is to know by reading literature on breeding patterns, feeding requirements, growth time as well as diseases.
It is sad that even though Zambia has abundant water resources, Zambia has a fish deficit.
It is possible that Public-Private Partnerships and commitment by multi-stakeholder engagement in aquaculture development has the potential to reduce Zambia’s “fish deficit” while increasing incomes for producers and food security for consumers, without putting further pressure on already stressed water resources and declining fish populations.
It is worth noting that fish farming is the major form of aquaculture practiced in Zambia. Aquaculture is defined by the Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO), as the rearing of aquatic organism, including fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants.
While Zambia is drought prone and relatively arid, it is endowed with large expanses of water which present an opportunity for aquaculture boom.
This is why women and youths should seize the opportunity by venturing in fish farming which is currently a money spinner.
The author is a photojournalist and writer.
Analysis: SHIKANDA KAWANGA