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Appendix 5


In the 1950's Rukuzye Area was unoccupied because of the wildlife which still inhabited the area. When the colonial powers decided to build irrigation dams they had to engage people to do the work. Several men from Lundazi District (about 120 km from Rukuzye) were employed and later on encouraged to stay and take up farming. The men who stayed formed separate villages with their extended families.

During the colonial days also South Rhodesian and Malawian farmers settled in this newly opened land. They had to boost the agricultural production in the area. In those days the government cleared their land, ploughed it and the necessary inputs were given. Upon Independence most of these farmers left and a lot of land was idle again.

The Zambian government decided that Rukuzye should stay a settlement area and a committee was formed to distribute the land to the applicants. This area lies outside the village communal land.

Only the villages located outside the settlement scheme have been contacted by the pilot project. Therefore, the results of the study do not refer to the farmers in the settlement scheme.

Magwero Area is situated near the Malawian border. Many of the villagers come originally from Malawi. In the nineteenth century the Dutch Reformed Church established its first mission in Zambia in Magwero. They built an orphanage, started a primary school for the blind and another one for the deaf. The workers, employed by the mission, were encouraged to settle within the area with the families. Upon Independence, the missionaries had to leave. Some people believe that they cursed the area when they left. The missionaries had given them popcorn, which shows that “this is the end”. After that event there were several misfortunes, for example in a village all the 200 cows except one calf died.


2.1 Land and Water

Rukuzye Area has two dams, one is 22 ha and another one is 19 ha. The suitable sites for fish farming are those below the dams. The surrounding communities were however reluctant to use these. They did not want to be dependent upon the watergate for the supply of water and they found the ground too hard for digging. They preferred to construct the pond at the shore of the dam. During the rainy season the pond would fill with the rising water from the dam and would thus be seasonal.

The arable land around the dams is limited and also used for vegetable gardens and tobacco nurseries. One of the reasons why the headmen preferred a village pond rather than individual ponds is the problem of the long term allocation of land to individuals.

In Magwero Area the biggest part of a valley with clay soil and a high water table was untilled. Since the pilot project introduced fish farming, a number of land disputes have occurred over the land where ponds have been built. The paramount chief Mpezeni settled these in favour of the fish farmers.

2.2 Labour

For both Rukuzye and Magwero Area, the household is the unit of production. Only a minority of the respondents reported to have used hired labour for the cultivation of their crops (23% and 25% respectively). Several aspects of the allocation of labour are summarized in table 1.

In general, the households interviewed produce to meet their own needs. They are not necessarily self sufficient in what they produce, but the product has to pay for other needs. In Rukuzye Area, the majority of the households meets its cash needs through the cultivation of hybrid maize (see 4.2.3). After harvesting they mostly spend their time extending and preparing fields for the next season as well as visiting friends and relatives, drinking beer and travelling outside the area. Land is not an immediate constraint for the production of an off-season crop. Apparently many households are satisfied with their income from farming because after harvesting part of the family labour is not allocated to income-generating activities. On the other hand, in Magwero Area where less households grow cash crops and less income is derived from farming, many have turned to other sources of income like vegetable gardening, trade and handicraft. They spend less time on social activities and travelling.

When considering the subsistence as well as income generating activities in both areas and their labour inputs, one would conclude that the labour availability for other activities is less in Magwero. However, in Magwero households have to diversify their activities in order to meet their needs. Therefore for certain households, fish farming represents an activity which could supplement their budget (see 4.4.2). In Rukuzye, where the need for cash as well as fish is felt less, most households have other priorities than fish farming.

Table 1: Labour allocation in Rukuzye and Magwero Area

- gardening0.5%28%63%-0.63 
- extend & prepare field 45%20%0.54
- visit relatives & friends 20%  8%0.47
- brew beer 13%  1%0.82
- handicraft   6%23%-0.63 
- other 55%51%0.08
No. of activities per person  1.7   2.2 
- never   5%72%57%0.32
- not every season  6%25%-0.67 
- every season 22%18%0.12
- never  5%64%41%0.44
- general work 20%37%-0.39 
- specialized work 16%22%-0.23 
- never  5%8%22%-0.54 
- < 5 times 48%51%-0.08 
- 5–10 times 14%11%0.14
- > 10 times 30%15%0.41

2.3 Capital

Rukuzye and Magwero Area differ with respect to the percentage of people who grow cash crops. In Rukuzye 86% of the respondents are earning money through the cultivation of cash crops, while in Magwero only 66% do so. In Rukuzye farmers benefit from credit facilities for inputs. In Magwero farmers find it difficult to obtain the necessary inputs. Therefore the earnings made from farming are lower in Magwero than Rukuzye.

Farmers usually depend on a range of subsistence and money making activities. In addition to farming, a family may fish, engage in the production of goods (e.g. mats, baskets, furniture making), raise livestock for their own use as well as for sale, work as day labourers on others' farms or do seasonal jobs outside the community. In Magwero, 35% of the respondents mention farming as an important source of income. On an average a household has two main activities with which they earn money. In Rukuzye the majority (56%) of the households earns their living with farming which is often their only source of income.

Table 2: Incoming generating activities in Rukuzye and Magwero Area

- average in ZK0.1%3 4612 020 
- standard deviation 3 0823 419 
- farming0.5%56% 35% 0.41
- vegetable garden 14% 37%-0.56
- charcoal  0% 11%-1.00
- day labourer  8% 21%-0.52
- brewing beer 14%  7% 0.37
- handicrafts  6% 17%-0.51
- other 22% 35% 0.32
No. of sources per respondent   1.21.6    

1 US $ = ZK 8

2.4 Inputs for Fish Farming

The availability of inputs for composting and fish feed in the two areas, as well as its fluctuation between the dry and rainy season, is reproduced in table 3. The answers are divided in three categories “little”, “enough” and “plenty”. In order to get an indication on the availability of manure in the different households, the respondents were asked how many animals they were keeping in their village of residence5. The standard deviation is given in brackets.

5 The spreading of domestic animals, esp. cattle, over different villages is a well known practice. In this case, the herders normally use the manure, not the owners.

Table 3: Availability of inputs for fish farming

- Dry season5%  
 little   3%  9%
 enough   7%13%
 plenty 90%78%
- Rainy seasonnot sign.  
 little 40%48%
 enough 23%26%
 plenty 37%26%
- Chickensnot sign.  
 % hh no chickens 25%30%
 % hh <15 chickens 55%62%
 % hh >=15 chickens 20% 8%
- Goatsnot sign.28%21%
- Pigs0.5%47%13%
- Cattlenot sign.14%10%
- Goats0.5%4.88.1
- Pigsnot sign.4.04.6
- Cattle0.1%2.35.6

In general the distribution of domestic animals does not differ significantly between the two areas, with exception of the number of households owning pigs. Rearing pigs has been discouraged in Magwero Area by the Paramount Chief, because they attract sand flees causing a disease called jiggers. For those households owning domestic animals, the average number per household was calculated. Although there are fewer households in Magwero owning goats and cattle, they keep them in bigger numbers.

As far as the availability of manure for fish farming is concerned, this should not solely be looked upon from the individual household. This resource, like maize bran and leftovers, is often shared with other households who are in need of it. For instance, a farmer not owning animals claims to have plenty of manure. He has access to manure stored by other households as long as it is abundant.

The availability of agricultural byproducts and manure is less in Magwero than in Rukuzye. In the dry season, the quantity is such that no problems for feeding and fertilizing are anticipated. The rainy season, however, gives a different picture for both areas. Collection of manure becomes difficult and the little amount of maize bran and kitchen leftovers is usually finished by the animals, including dogs.


3.1 Kinship Systems

No clear insight in the distribution of different ethnic groups over the two areas was gained during the study. Apparently many people consider themselves a member of that ethnic group to which the chief of the area belongs. For instance Rukuzye falls under Chewa chief Chanje III. 70% of the respondents in Rukuzye said that they are Chewa (matrilineal) while originally they are Tumbuka and follow the patrilineal rules on inheritance, etc. Magwero Area falls under the direct rule of Ngoni (patrilineal) paramount chief Mpezeni, while the majority of the inhabitants are Chewa.

The resource allocation and its use are defined by the kinship system. Within the ideal matrilineal system, land is owned by the woman and can be used by the husband if the couple settles in the wife's village. In the patrilineal system land is owned by the men.

In reality, the kinship system is rather dynamic. For example, the acquisition of land within the most important matrilineal ethnic group in Rukuzye and Magwero, the Chewa, is nowadays following the male line. The same holds true for the rules on residence of the newly wed couple. They are more or less free to settle where they want. Farmers are allowed to bring their wives to their villages after having spent several years in the wife's village or immediately after marriage. Sometimes the couple chooses to settle in a village in which neither one of them has kinsmen.

3.2 Type and Composition Settlements

The residential pattern in both areas can be divided into four types:

Table 4 gives a breakdown by area of the number of respondents in each category.

Table 4: Distribution of residential pattern in Rukuzye and Magwero Area

-neolocal, related to headman10%25%
-no kinship ties to headman11%15%

The difference in residential pattern is significant at p = 0.1. Moreover, the actual difference is bigger, than these figures suggest because the data from Rukuzye Area as presented in this table are somewhat misleading. They indicate a mixing of people in the villages, while in fact the majority of the villages are composed of extended families6. The respondents in the category “no kinship ties with headman”, all stay in scattered houses outside the villages where there is no village organization and no headman. The high percentage of uxorilocality can in most cases be explained by daughters or sisters of the headman who have been married off to Malawians. Often they come as workers and, when they want to settle in the village they marry a close relative of the headman.

In Magwero Area where the majority of the inhabitants are Chewa (matrilineal), uxorilocality is declining and neolocality is becoming an important aspect. There is apparently a higher influx of “outsiders” than in Rukuzye. On the other hand, people tend to leave the area for shorter or longer periods for employment (see table 1).

6 In this case they are patrilocal extended families: a patriarch, his wife, his married sons with their wives and children, and some (un) married daughters of the senior couple.

3.3 Religion

Church membership in Magwero Area is more diverse than Rukuzye Area where the majority of the respondents belongs to the African National Church (see figure 1). This church organizes many social activities of which fund raising for needy families (e.g. in case of a funeral) is one. They do piecework, mostly for the farmers in the settlement scheme. This is not considered wage labour by the respondents and is thus in addition to “seasonal labour”, mentioned in table 1. Members of this church are also known to attend all the funerals within the area7. This takes up an important part of their time. A sense of solidarity is created by the participation in these social activities.

Figure 1: Church membership in Rukuzye

Figure 1

The biggest church in Magwero is the Reformed Church of Zambia (see figure 2), which is the former Dutch Reformed Church (see section 1). The Jehovah's Witnesses make up a relatively large percentage of the respondents. The members of the Reformed Church of Zambia as well as the Jehovah Witnesses are believed to focus more on individual achievement and self-discipline than those belonging to the African National Church.

Figure 2: Church membership in Magwero

Figure 2

In Rukuzye a significantly (P = 0.05) larger number of people are having a position in the church, namely 55%, than in Magwero where 27% of the respondents occupied a position in the church (Q = 0.54).

7 The social control to attend funerals is strong. The believe is that if someone does not go there it means that he or she is somehow responsible for the death of the deceased.

3.4 Interconnectedness of the Social Systems

The comparatively more homogeneous composition of villages in Rukuzye and the sense of solidarity between the members of all African National Church, may be indications that the social system in Rukuzye is more tight than in Magwero. Moreover, many of the farmers in Rukuzye obtain group loans for farming. There is a high social control between the members to pay back.

Therefore, the normative pressure on community members in Rukuzye is probably high, which can result in a higher degree of consensus than in those communities where the structure is more diverse like in Magwero. Close-knit social systems, can have an effect on the adoption of fish farming over and above the effect of such variables as the individual characteristics of the members of the system. For example, when several headmen in Rukuzye proposed to construct village ponds some villagers felt morally obliged to participate without really seeing the benefits. However, it appeared as if the choice for communal ponds was a collective decision. After a while it became clear that it was not made by consensus but it was rather a desire of the headman. Because the villagers can not openly let him down, they started constructing the pond. Gradually they started looking for excuses for their absence and eventually the construction stopped.

Likewise, those farmers who had wanted to build individual ponds could not do so because of the headman's decision for communal ponds.

3.5 Opinion Leadership

In both areas opinion leadership with regard to fish farming was studied. It appeared that in Rukuzye Area not many people had discussed the topic. Only eight respondents mentioned that they had casual talks on fish farming, mainly with friends. They had these talks with different people, no opinion leader had emerged.

On the other hand, in Magwero Area many respondents had discussed fish farming with others. It was discussed with kinsmen, in-laws, friends, during funerals and sometimes women discussed it at the grinding mill. The most important actors between whom the conversation took place have been plotted in the form of a sociogram in figure 3. The size of the circle indicates how often an actor has been mentioned as a conversation partner. The tail of the arrows show who mentioned the actor pointed at.

Fish farming is not a new activity in Magwero (see 4.3). A primary school teacher has three ponds and has been envied for having fish by the surrounding communities. As will be shown in Appendix 6 the presence of these ponds did not necessarily have a positive influence on the uptake of fish farming. However, after ALCOM's introduction the situation changed. Apparently people started discussing certain issues of fish farming with the teacher while before they were only observing his fish ponds.

Evidence from the field suggests that he has become an opinion leader. For instance, he has explained to several farmers that one will obtain big fish when the culture period is extended to one year. Many people had accepted this idea. He is not only transferring knowledge but also trying to control fish farming activities which may interfere with his own enterprise.

The first fish pond built after ALCOM's introduction in the area, is a communal one. The headman of that village was only mentioned by four respondents as having discussed fish farming with. The first fish farmer with an individual pond, on the other hand, occupies a more strategic position in the network. The difference in scores can not be explained by their position in the social system. On the contrary, the fish farmer's position is weaker (settled in his wife's village and is only known when referred to the wife's name) than the headman's. It is not known if the difference results from the different interest in the two types of fish farming.

Figure 3: Conversation Partners in Magwero Area

  1: First farmer with individual ponds after ALCOM's introduction
22: Headman of village with communal pond
41: Teacher, first fish farmer in area

Figure 3

3.6 Taboos

There are few taboos concerning fish consumption in both areas. Some familities do not eat catfish but nobody mentioned reasons for not consuming tilapia. The use of pig manure for composting is restricted in certain religions. These are exceptional cases.

People fishing with nets or traps are believed to possess “lucky charms”, to call the fish in their nets or traps. Somebody who does not have these charms can go fishing but will not catch anything. There are no indications that the same reasoning is followed for people with fish ponds. Although, individuals who do quite well in farming may attract jealousy. Jealousy and envy usually result in witchcraft accusations either by saying that the farmer prospered through magic or the innovator's illness would be attributed to witchcraft.


4.1 Fish as a Source of Relish

The sources of relish differ significantly (P<0.005) in the dry as well as rainy season between Rukuzye and Magwero Area. In the dry season, respondents in Rukuzye depend more on their fields (esp. beans, okra) and angling in the dams for their relish while in Magwero, people tend to buy more meat and fish and take relish from their vegetable garden. In the rainy season, farmers intercrop vegetables (e.g. pumpkin, beans, okra, sweet potato) with maize which is an important source of relish in Magwero. In Rukuzye fish caught from the dam represents an important part of their diet.

Table 5: Fish consumption (times per month) and source of fish

 NAvg. per monthCaughtBought*
-Rukuzye647 (8)32%68%
-Magwero714 (4)8%80%
-Magwero713 (5)19%69%

* The % caught and bought do not always equal 100 because some respondents answered that they have not eaten fish for a long time.

Table 5 presents the frequency of fish consumption as well as the procurement of fish in Rukuzye and Magwero Area for the dry and rainy season. Some data are rather high and should probably be interpreted as an order of magnitude and not as exact figures. The standard deviation is given in brackets.

Nobody was given fish.

In Rukuzye, the majority of the households is fishing in the rainy season. They angle in dams, fish with traps or drain pools of water. In Magwero, the opportunities for fishing are limited. Most of the fish consumed is dried fish sold by Malawian traders. The felt need for fish and animal protein in general is thus less in Rukuzye (significant at 5%). In Magwero, respondents say they feel a lack of animal protein during 7 months a year (s.d. 4), while in Rukuzye this is 4.5 (s.d. 4) months. The percentage of respondents who reported a lack of animal protein during the different months is reproduced in figure 4.

Figure 4: Lack of animal protein throughout the year

Figure 4

The seasonality of lack of animal protein differs for the two areas. The peak for Rukuzye is in October, just before the start of the rains and decreases in the rainy season. From May, the beginning of the dry season, it goes up again. In Magwero, the lack of animal protein is higher in the rainy season than in the dry season.

4.2 Fish as a Source of Cash

It has been demonstrated (see 2.2 and 2.3) that cash needs are easier to meet in Rukuzye than in Magwero Area. This is reflected in how respondents would use fish if they had a fish pond. In Rukuzye people give priority to have fish for home consumption (76% of the respondents). In Magwero 74% of the respondents answered that they would want to have a pond mainly to have fish for sale (association coefficient is 0.67). This does not mean however, that they would not be catching fish for home consumption on occasional basis (see also table 8).

4.3 Perceived Newness of Fish Farming

In Rukuzye and Magwero, few people actually have experience with fish farming. In Rukuzye school ponds were built in 1977 – 1979 and abandoned in 1980. It involved the teachers (for management) and pupils (for digging) of the Primary School. In Magwero, school ponds were built in 1976 and have been more or less operational since then. One of the teachers started fish farming in 1981. Table 6 reproduces the percentage of respondents who had already heard of fish farming or had seen a fish pond before the pilot project introduced the subject in the area.

Table 6: Respondents having heard of fish farming and/or seen a pond before the pilot projects introduction

Heard of fish farming17%52%0.5%-0.68
Seen a fish pond16%37%1%   -0.51

In Magwero Area significantly more people have heard of fish farming or seen fish ponds than in Rukuzye Area. This is not surprising since there are a number of operational ponds within the area.

4.4 Drudgery of Fish Farming

In order to assess the perception of the drudgery of fish farming, respondents were asked if they had easier and/or cheaper ways of obtaining animal protein or easier ways of earning money. The number of respondents giving an affirmative answer are represented in table 7.

Table 7: Percentage of respondents giving easier/cheaper alternatives to fish farming

Easier an. protein19%39%1%-0.48
Cheaper an. protein36%46%n.s. n.a.
Easier money59%82%0.5%-0.51

It is surprising that in Rukuzye, where many households are fishing in dams and most of the households have domestic animals, less respondents give alternatives for animal protein. The same holds true for income generation. It was anticipated that most of the respondents in Rukuzye would come up with easier alternatives for income generation. There are two possible explanations. In Magwero several ponds have been completed. Therefore, people have a better picture of what is involved in fish farming and realize that it is an arduous job. The other possible explanation is that the respondents in Rukuzye were not serious in answering this question and thus preferred to say that there are no alternatives.

Alternatives given for both easier and cheaper animal protein are to kill domestic animals, especially chickens or to go hunting. Easier ways to earn money are through farming and vegetable gardening.

4.5 Risks of Fish Farming

The risks of fish farming, as seen by the respondents, differ considerably in the two areas. In Magwero 58% of the respondents sees predation by birds and otters as a problem. In Rukuzye only 7% were worried about predators.

On the other hand, 47% of the interviewees in Rukuzye mentioned theft and poisoning of fish as a risk, while the same factor scored 16% in Magwero. Knowledge of charms which can be used to prevent theft is present. In some cases people are reluctant to apply them for fear of hurting close relatives or friends.

In both areas the lack of water was seen as a risk (approximately 30%) as well as death of fish due to lack of feed (55%).


Questions were asked on seven topics related to fish farming. They are: type of soil, waterdepth, construction of a dike, feeding and fertilizing, procurement of fingerlings, yield and length of culture period. Although people in Magwero had seen more ponds and had heard of fish farming before, this has not resulted in a better knowledge on fish farming.

The scores on the topic “yield” were low for both areas. Experience from the field suggested that questions on the number of fish rather than the weight of the harvested fish would correspond to a farmer's perception of yield of a pond. In Rukuzye 34% answered correctly, in Magwero 31%. When, however, the respondents were asked how often they expected to be eating or selling fish from a pond, significant different answers were given (see table 8).

Table 8: Expected frequency (per year) of consumption and sale of fish from a pond

Home consumption5737(34)6216(39)0.1%
For sale5422(31)657(11)0.1%

Expectations in Rukuzye were far higher than in Magwero. It is not known if the high expectation is provoked by their practise of frequent angling in the dam or because of non interest in the questionnaire and therefore erratic answering. It is also possible that respondents have a different idea of measuring satisfactory returns of a fish pond and as a result are not able to give precise answers on these questions.

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