Chiawa Fish Farm

I liked this from Victoria Phiri from Times of Zambia reproduced in All Africa earlier this month and agree completely with the comment at the end that it is ridiculous for a country like Zambia to be importing poor quality tasteless fish from China, when we have such a wealth of natural resources ourselves.
“Chiawa is a relatively small area in southern Zambia known for its hot weather conditions that have made large scale agricultural activities by inhabitants of the area fail. Worse still, those who have dared the weather by trying to cultivate, usually end up with downcast faces as wild elephants would not wait for them to harvest their yield.

But all is not lost in the farming sector as there is one component of farming that has made a positive impact in the lives of these people – fish farming. This new phenomenon was introduced to the area by Cherri and Richard Walson who also own hospitality businesses in the area. The couple, touched by the conditions under which the locals live, solicited the goodwill of its clientele abroad to fund an income generating activity, thus giving birth to the Bream Fish Farming project.

Together with the local community Cherri and Richard formed the ‘wealth for ambition’ project which is the umbrella body of all the income generating activities including the Bream Fish Farming project. The community formed its own co-operative of 19 families, and identified the land for the project. They then worked tirelessly to clear much of the land manually.

Cherri and Richard implemented the first phase of the fish farm by raising sufficient funds for excavation, completing the design, clearing the area of tree stumps and locating suitable basic pumps for the water. The pumps bring the water 300 metres from the river to the fish ponds and up to a nine metre head. Each of the six ponds has natural water pumped into it three times per month from the Kafue River.

The project is 100 per cent environmentally compatible as no run off from the ponds can reach the river, but rather is used to water crops. When the water is let out, it can be used to irrigate fields below for those who want to have gardens and grow millet, which is good for human consumption but can also be used as organic fish food. The first harvest of 6,000 fish is now underway and expansion is planned.

Speaking during the first fish harvest, project-coordinator Stanley Chinhoi said the project was an example of how the rural population could contribute to national development through the production of fish. He said most of the fish consumed in Zambia at the moment is imported from China, stating that if such projects received adequate support, importing fish from far off places like China would be a thing of the past. “Fish is a lucrative business which if adequately funded, we can produce much more and even export,” Mr Chinhoi said.

And Kambale Ward councillor Charles Mandika said the fish farm had proved to be an effective income generating activity because of the poor rainfall pattern in the area that prevented the cultivation of crops. Mr Mandika said though there was a lot of skepticism in the initial stages of the project success had proved that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.

With a second farm under consideration, the people of Chiawa are poised to be major suppliers of fish in the surrounding areas, but this can only be achieved if the Government and other cooperating partners provide the necessary conditions for such a project to thrive.”