Blessing Rwizi Post Correspondent
AT least 1 000 farmers from Mutasa, Mutare and Makoni districts will receive 190 000 fingerlings from Harare-headquartered Fresh Harvest and Aquafeeds Zimbabwe, as stock for fish farming projects.
The two companies have since challenged the farmers to be ready for fish stocking ahead of the summer season, which is the most appropriate time for fish production.
Aquafeeds Manicaland marketing development officer Mr John Shumba said it was time for all farmers to complete their fish ponds so that they begin stocking fish end of this month. “We are now getting into the most appropriate season for fish production because if it is not hot, normally fish don’t breed and that is the reason why we urge farmers to destock during winter.
“Farmers are co-operating and we are witnessing significant progress, as the number of farmers engaging in fish breeding around the three districts is increasing rapidly. We are expecting to start the distribution of fingerlings by the end of this month and we also expect a number of new farmers as well as unemployed youths to join in,” said Mr Shumba.
He added: “We also have a number of schools that have joined fish farming with demonstration ponds to educate new and old farmers on how to breed fish using Aquafeeds products and ideas.
“Among these schools are Chemarima, Matendevhure, Samaringa, Jambo, Chitambo, St Joseph’s and St Mathias primary and secondary schools. They are now at an advanced stage in preparation for fish stocking together with a number of individual farmers across the province.”
Most farmers in the participating districts had destocked their fish in winter due to the low winter temperatures that are credited with high death rates.
Moreso, growth rates are very low in winter since the fish will be busy looking for warm places to hide. Fish are also affected by the cotton wall disease during the winter season. Fresh Harvest started fish farming contracts in Manicaland with only five farmers in 2013 while Aquafeeds Zimbabwe started with a group of 18 farmers dubbed Maoresa Fish Production in Mutasa.
Several farmers have joined the project in recent years owing to its potential to generate rich pickings that have positively changed the lives of many. Fresh Harvest and Aquafeeds Zimbabwe provide breading breams and the Nile tilapia fish as well as knowledge on effective fish breeding to these farmers.
Aquaculture is the fastest growing agricultural industry globally and fish have the highest food conservation ratios as they produce more protein per kilogramme of feed.