The fisheries sub-sector in Zambia plays a significant role in the economy as it offers an opportunity for improved nutrition, income generation, and job creation, resulting in general wealth creation and food security at household and national level. At national level, the fisheries sub-sector contributes approximately 3.2% to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (Second Agricultural Policy, 2016). Given the abundant water resources that Zambia has, the fisheries sub-sector has been identified as one of the avenues for agriculture and general economic diversification through enhanced and efficient capture fisheries and fish farming. At household level, the fisheries sub-sector is identified as one of the sectors that can provide additional protein. In addition to other sources such as livestock and crops, fish accounts for about 40% of protein intake in rural areas. This sector is key in the efforts towards scaling up nutrition levels, food security, and income generation. At household level, the fisheries sector contributes to household income through fishing activities as the main economic venture in some parts of the country.
In simple terms, aquaculture is defined as farming and husbandry of aquatic organisms under controlled or semi-controlled conditions. This term refers to the cultivation of both marine and freshwater species which range from land-based cultivation and open water production in cages. In Zambia fish production through aquaculture is carried out both on land in ponds and in open waters by putting cages in rivers.
The fisheries sector has the potential to produce 150,000 metric tonnes of fish annually but it currently produces about 70,000 tonnes of which 87% of the production comes from capture. Fisheries (Second Agricultural Policy, 2016). The current fish production in the country has failed to meet the country’s domestic demand for fish, this has led the country to become a net importer of fish. In 2015 Zambia’s fish imports volume was 77,199 metric tonnes which increased to 126,345 metric tonnes in 2016. (Department of Fisheries, 2017). In terms of net worth of the fish that the country imports, the Seventh National Development plan indicates that in 2011, fish imports were valued at US$ 32,118,412 which increased by 253% to US$113,434,446 in 2015 while the value of fish exports decreased from US$1,081,964 to US$503,649 between 2011 and 2015 (Ministry of National Development Planning, 2017). This increase in fish imports and increase in demand has necessitated the development of fish farming through aquaculture development and promotion. Government, with the help of various cooperating partners such as World fish, Peace Corps, and Caritas Zambia has in the recent years facilitated the development of aquaculture development to drive the agenda of improving nutrition and food security.
Aquaculture is, evidently, one of the avenues which the Government can capitalise on in view of diversifying the Zambian economy from copper to other sectors. The economic benefits that could be accrued from aquaculture development and advancement are further necessitated by the increase in the demand for fish at regional and national level. At its current annual production, the fisheries sector in Zambia cannot meet the required demand for fish. Aquaculture development and advancement presents a long-term solution for the increased demand for fish. The need for reduced fish imports in the country creates a favourable window of opportunity for appropriate investment into aquaculture technology in order to enhance production and productivity of fish through aquaculture both at commercial and smallholder production.
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