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Appendix 6

Because of the significant differences in socio-cultural and economic environment between both areas, it was decided to split up the data on adopters and non-adopters for the two areas. However, because there is only one adopter with operational ponds in Rukuzye Area, it was not possible to carry out any statistical analysis on the data for Rukuzye Area. Therefore, the data presented in this appendix all refer to Magwero Area.


The fish farmers are all men. Since the construction of a fish pond requires strenuous labour, it is considered the male domain. A closer look at the household composition shows that the age of the fish farmer is also of importance. Five different household categories can be distinguished according to the number and age of the males in the household. Table 1 shows the percentage of each of the household categories that have chosen to rear fish.

Table 1: Adoption of fish farming by household category

FHH, with adult sons   1   0%FHH, no adult sons220%
Husband under 50  8617%Husband over 50, no adult sons110%
Husband over 50, with adult sons  1513%   

17% of the households with a man under 50 have constructed a fish pond, while none of the households without a man under 50 has done so. The household composition apparently affects the fish farming decision. This is a constraint for the female headed households of which the majority (96%) does not have adult sons.

The farmers who adopted fish farming are significantly younger than those who did not. The average age of the adopters is 36 years (s.d. 13) while it is 46 years (s.d. 17) for the nonadopters.

For Rukuzye Area, where the construction of communal ponds had started but was abandoned later on, one third of the participants belonged to the category “no man under 50 years”. Communal ponds could thus be a solution for the labour problem of this group, provided they are socially and economically viable.

One would predict that households choosing to rear fish would be bigger and have higher consumption needs. However, this does not seem the case. The average adult equivalent for households with a fish pond is 3.5, while the average for those not interested is 3.9.

In order to determine if mainly people with a higher social status are amongst the first adopters of fish farming, an index measuring this concept was composed. On basis of information obtained from the key informants, the concept social status was operationalized into six indicators: marital status, traditional role in village, political function, position in church, frequency of working as day labourer and if respondents hire labour. However, when interviewing elders in the village (after having conducted the questionnaires) they mentioned that those people who have food all year round and consequently do not beg for it, are most respected in villages. To be a wage-worker is an acceptable way of earning money or obtaining food and does not decrease the status. The other indicators probably do contribute to somebody's social status. Since no question was included on household food security, which is probably one of the main elements of the concept, the indicators were considered non-valid and the variable social status was omitted.

No significant difference was found on the separate six indicators between adopters and non-adopters. Fish farming is thus not limited to a certain social category within the population.


2.1 Land and Water

In Magwero Area the fish ponds are all fed by the watertable. The only other activity in those areas is vegetable gardening. For some villages access to this type of land is limited. In those situations, the headman usually favours his family when distributing the land.

Although the biggest part of the valley in Magwero is untilled, most of it has been distributed. After a land dispute in which two people were claiming rights for the same area, it was demarcated again. A part was left open and anybody who wants to put up a permanent structure like a fish pond can obtain access to it. The distance to the village or any other nearby activity (like vegetable garden) are factors which contribute to somebody's interest in those pieces of land.

2.2 Labour

A subsistence farmer tries to optimize the use of his resources of which labour is one of the most important. Because of the labour constraint during peak periods, it is difficult to increase farming activities. During the slack season however, the available labour (more or less a constant factor for subsistence farmers) can be used for other activities.

The adopters of fish farming mentioned an average of 2.2 activities after harvesting of which charcoal burning is an important one. The non-adopters reported 1.4 activities. Preparation of the fields is their main activity.

The amount of available labour in a household does apparently not influence the decision to adopt fish farming. The average adult equivalent for households with a fish pond does not differ significantly from households who have not adopted. The presence of a man under 50 years (or money to pay for the labour) is likely a determining variable for the adoption of fish farming.

2.3 Capital

Table 2 shows that those who decided to adopt fish farming receive in general less from farming than those who did not show interest. However, because of the high variance, the difference is not significant.

Table 2: Earnings from Farming for Adopters and Non-Adopters

  NAverage in ZK
Adopters161 363 (1 782)
Non-adopters552 211 (3 742)

These figures also confirm the assumption that especially those people whose cash needs have not yet been met are attracted by fish farming.

2.4 Inputs for Fish Farming

There is a significant (P = 0.05) difference in the distribution of chickens between adopters and non-adopters. The non-adopters have more chickens. 35% of the adopters said to have no chickens at all, while this was 13% for the non-adopters. Likewise, the adopters are also over represented in the category “less than 15 chickens”.

Both groups have significant less on-farm inputs for composting and feeding during the rainy season than in the dry season. In the dry season however, the adopters have less inputs at their disposal than those who are not interested.


The existing knowledge of fish farming was measured for the adopters and non-adopters. The results are represented in figure 1.

Figure 1: Adopters' and Non-adopters' Knowledge of Fish Farming

Figure 1

The adopters have a significant better knowledge of fish farming than the non-adopters. However, for both categories of respondents the topics “dike” and “yield” scored low. For the construction of the dikes three points were emphasized: compacting, shaping of the dike and planting grass. Many people mentioned compacting, few the planting of grass and none the shaping of the dikes. Even though the adopters know about the compacting of the dikes, it does not necessarily mean that they actually do it. It is a time consuming task and they would rather like to finish the construction of the pond fast.

A certain degree of uncertainty concerning the results of fish farming always exists for the adopters at the implementation stage. Yet, the scores for the factor “yield” were very low (53% for adopters). The expected size of fish which could be harvested was approximately 28 cm (s.d. 10) for big fish and 11 cm (s.d. 5) for small fish. The expected frequency of consumption and sale of fish is given in table 3.

Table 3: Expected frequency (per year) of consumption and sale of fish from a pond

Home consumption166(7)4719(57)0.1%
For sale165(7)487(12)0.1%

The expectations with regard to the number of times one can sell fish from a pond, were too high. This can lead to disappointment and eventually abandonment.


The rate of adoption is, among other things, determined by the way people look upon fish farming. The perceived attributes of fish farming can be divided into four categories:

4.1 Degree of Compatibility

The non-adopters feel a significant higher lack of animal protein (during 8 months a year, S.D. = 4) than the adopters (5 months per year, S.D. = 4). The actual fish consumption does not differ significantly between the two groups and does therefore not account for the difference in felt lack of protein. Neither was there a relation found with the number of household members, nor with the amount of cash earned with farming, nor with the number of domestic animals. The only relation found is a positive one between age and the number of months in which a shortage of animal protein was experienced (association coefficient is 0.47). Because of a higher average age for the non-adopters, the felt lack of animal protein is also higher for this category. Often older people feel they should eat more fish or meat than younger people.

4.2 Degree of Relative Advantage

Respondents were asked if they had easier ways of obtaining animal protein and money and if they had cheaper sources of animal protein. The scores of these three questions were combined in an index for the drudgery of fish farming. Four answer categories were made up, ranging from 0 to 3. Category 0 means that the respondent considers fish farming the cheapest and easiest way to obtain animal protein as well as money; category 1 means that he indicated on one of the three questions that he knew a cheaper or easier way rather than fish farming; category 2 and 3 mean that the respondent scored a positive answer on two respectively all questions. Figure 2 shows the distribution of the respondents over the different scores.

The people who have constructed a pond, either individually or on a communal basis, tend to say that there are easier and/or cheaper ways to obtain animal protein and money. In spite of this, they still continue farming fish. Through diversifying activities, risks will be spread and a pond can be harvested whenever money is needed. Moreover, the construction can take place at times when labour is relatively abundant. Striking is the high percentage (70%) in category 3 of respondents having built a communal pond. They consider a communal pond a difficult way of obtaining animal protein and earning money.

Figure 2: Distribution adopters and non-adopters over drudgery index

Figure 2

The problem with this one-shot survey is that it is difficult to include time in it because of the recall problem of the interviewees. Therefore, we can only get information on the perception at the time of the survey of the respondents with regard to the drudgery of fish farming. However, it would have been interesting to know how this was perceived before undertaking this new activity.

The initial financial costs are low if the farmer does not employ labour for construction. Sources of animal protein which are considered as cheaper by the respondents are: hunting, fishing and domestic animals. But there are seasons in which hunting and fishing are less successful and the slaughtering of animals is limited.

An eventual increase in status through the adoption of fish farming is difficult to measure with a questionnaire. During informal discussions, indications were given that this does occur. Besides, the first adopter usually likes to be the “most important” fish farmer. They may try to spread the message on fish farming and thus introduce development in other areas or want to build more and/or bigger ponds than others. This increase in pond surface does not necessarily lead to an increase in productivity, especially if inputs for feeding and fertilizing are limited.

4.3 Complexibility

Digging is considered the most difficult part of fish farming. All the respondents with an individual pond mentioned it, as against 50% of the members of the communal pond. Of the non-adopters 56% stated digging as the major difficulty. It is thus understandable that in first instance people prefer to have a communal pond. The work is easier and one can see the results fast. However, the organization of the work as well as the management of the pond has proven to be difficult. Therefore some members think that the advantages of a communal pond do not balance with its inconveniences (see also above).

Feeding was always seen as the easiest task in fish farming. The fact that many people consider the feeding of fish easy, does not necessarily mean that it is always done on a regular basis. Besides the limited availability of inputs at certain times, the labour availability for feeding and fertilizing can be a problem during agricultural peak seasons.

4.4 Risks in Fish Farming

Adopters and non-adopters see different risks in fish farming (P = 0.01). The non-adopters see the lack of food as one of the major causes of loosing fish while the adopters see the predation by birds and otters as the main problem. The adopters are also more concerned about the lack of water in the pond. Other concerns of the adopters include: overmanuring, flooding of the pond and fish diseases.

When interviewing the elders, they stated that many people believe in seeing the results first before they consider adopting an innovation. The perceived risks decrease if peers have already tried it. Therefore, an analysis was made to see if those who adopted fish ponds before the pilot project introduced the subject and consequently found it easier to adopt than those who did not know anything about fish farming. The figures are given in table 4.

Table 4: Newness of fish farming for adopters and non-adopters

Heard of fish farming81%39%0.5% 0.66
Seen a fish pond13%47%0.5%-0.73

The non-adopters have seen significantly more ponds than the adopters which would imply that seeing a fish pond had a negative influence on their decision to adopt fish farming. The respondents who had seen ponds have not automatically heard about fish farming.

The majority of adopters had already heard of fish farming before the pilot project started working in Magwero Area. In fact several of them said that they had been envying the school teacher for his fish. Yet they thought it was a difficult exercise, not possible to carry out in their situation. Still, it seems that their foreknowledge on the existence of fish farming has positively influenced their decision to adopt it. Data also suggest that innovators may be characterised by doing first instead of seeing first.

After having seen or heard of the harvest of the first individual pond constructed after introduction in Magwero, peers started asking this farmer for advice and some copied the activity from him. Once a few members from the community take up fish farming and have established themselves, the perceived uncertainty for the later adopters may be less.

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