Residents take up fish farming projects in Zimbabwe
Residents in Bulawayo are turning to setting up fishponds in their backyards to take up aquaculture farming as a new farming initiative, besides their traditional green gardens.
The country’s fisheries have always largely relied on natural resources from dams and other water bodies, but these resources are getting scarce. It has become essential that people should cultivate their favourite meal. Fishponds have become the new face of aquaculture as farmers believe it is easy to set up such projects. Fish fingerlings, while delicate to breed, do not demand complicated expertise, making such projects attractive to many who seek to explore new farming opportunities.
Farming with fish in a RAS or aquaponic system, especially with net cages, will give you much more control and better results, but to get started is expensive. (Photo: www.ksba.co.za)
Installers of ponds must know what they are doing.
Government and the ministry of agriculture are on record supporting aquaculture projects for self-sufficiency and boosting local economies in terms of sales and domestic consumption. Moses Ndlovu, a retired headmaster was at the beginning of October setting up two ponds within his premises in one of the city’s low-density suburbs. Having ample space has provided Moses with the ability to expand from growing cabbages to trying his hand at fish breeding.
“I have been an active farmer for years and thought I should try something else after I saw a lot of talk about fish farming not being complicated,” Moses said.
Government is upscaling aquaculture and in September this year announced that more than seventy irrigation schemes had been identified for the setting up of fish farms. These projects will be supported with fish fingerlings as part of the broader Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Strategy. In a country where most farming activities has been confined to cash crops such as grains and tobacco, government is encouraging diversity. For farmers such as Moses Ndlovu who are financing their own fisheries projects, it is a gamble that could pay off in the long term, he says.
“I have seen people who have started these projects in their backyards, but the advantage is that there are not many such projects that I know off. This means the market is not yet oversubscribed,” Moses said.
Other aspiring fish farmers have however met with frustration. Twenty-something year old Lungilo Mazibuko says he has taken a break from pursuing fish farming. “The people who set up our ponds early this year made a shoddy job. The ponds leaked and water went straight into the ground,” Lungilo said, highlighting the need for experts in setting up such projects. “We did follow-up, trying to make them re-do their work but up to now they have not owned up to their poor workmanship,” he added.
Still, the interest in fish farming is showing untapped potential for farmers to grow their local businesses, with the Presidential Fisheries Programme seeking to increase dam construction drastically by 2025 to ensure the growth of the sector.
A few hints to make your pond work:
- Circulate the water by using a sludge pump that will not block easily.
- Let the water fall from a height to help with aeration.
- Regularly replace a third of the water with clean water.
- The water that is pumped out (dumped) can be used to irrigate and fertilise vegetable gardens.
- Try and get the best brooding stock and regularly replace the brooding males for better quality fingerlings.
- Use fish food that is specifically developed for the type of fish that you farm with and for pond feeding.
- If you can invest in a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) or decently designed aquaponic system you can control your breeding programme and fish growth much better than with a pond system.