Promotion of Sustainable Commercial Aquaculture
in Africa Continues

Nathanael Hishamunda
Raymon van Anrooy
Fishery Development Planning Service (FIPP)
FAO Fisheries Department, Rome
The Honorable Minister addressing the workshop at the opening

Some participants of the workshop, including the Honourable Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives of Zambia, Mr Mundia F. Sikatana (front row, third from the left

In early October 2002, more than 35 aquaculture sector stakeholders (including aquaculturists, hatchery managers and feed processors), representatives of the banking sector and public-sector fisheries and aquaculture policy-makers from Malawi and Zambia came together in Lusaka, Zambia for a bi-national workshop on the promotion of sustainable commercial aquaculture in Zambia and Malawi. This workshop was supported by FAO under the programme theme "Sustainable Commercial Aquaculture Development in Sub-Sahara Africa". It was part of the follow-up activities after the Technical Consultation on Legal Frameworks and Economic Policy Instruments for Sustainable Commercial Aquaculture in Africa South of the Sahara, which took place in Arusha, Tanzania in December 2001, and aimed:

  • to share the main outcomes of the Arusha Consultation,
  • to review the role of commercial aquaculture development in achieving food security, alleviating poverty and supporting economic growth in the two countries,
  • to identify policy measures that will support the creation of an enabling environment for commercial aquaculture development, and
  • to discuss opportunities and constraints in commercial aquaculture in both countries.

Overviews of the aquaculture situation in both countries were presented by staff of the national Departments of Fisheries. In addition, working papers were presented by FAO on:

  • Sustainable commercial aquaculture: concept, benefits, pitfalls and conditions for development and major constraints in sub-Saharan Africa;
  • Markets and trade of commercially farmed fish and shrimp in sub-Saharan Africa;
  • General policy framework;
  • Legal frameworks; and
  • Mitigating strategies to major constraints.

An additional presentation was given on the outcomes of the South African Aquaculture Conference, and the Barclays Bank of Zambia provided an introduction to those aquaculturists interested in obtaining credit from the bank. The presentations served as background information and assisted in making the plenary and group discussions as effective as possible, considering the limited time available for the workshop.

The review of the main subjects covered under the different agenda items and the major conclusions and recommendations made by the workshop point the way forward in the development of sustainable commercial aquaculture in Zambia and Malawi.

The Workshop concluded that:

  1. There is still much unrealized potential for economically viable and sustainable commercial aquaculture in Zambia and Malawi. However, commercial aquaculture is developing at a very slow pace in these two countries. Nonetheless, there is still growing interest that needs support.
  2. There is a need in Zambia and Malawi to speed up the development of policies, strategies, strategic plans, legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks in order to regulate, facilitate and enable commercial aquaculture to take off and expand.

  3. The major constraints to commercial aquaculture development in Zambia and Malawi are:

  • The quasi-complete inaccessibility to funding and to loans. Inaccessibility to funding and loans arises from:
    • lack of information on the part of potential investors in commercial aquaculture on the funding mechanisms;
    • lack of knowledge on the part of potential borrowers on how to prepare convincing business plans when seeking loans;
    • the perception by lending institutions that aquaculture ventures bear a high risk of failure;
    • lack of experience by local lending institutions on aquaculture and allied industries as economically and financially viable activities;
    • lack of government policies encouraging funding and financial institutions to support infant industries such as aquaculture and allied industries just as they do in some other agricultural subsectors;
    • the prohibitively exorbitant interest rates charged to potential borrowers. In addition to macro-economic factors, these high interest rates are especially a result of the lack of adequate collateral and equity by loan applicants.
  • The lack of clear enabling policies, strategies, plans and legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks for aquaculture development in general.

  • Shortage of skilled manpower.

  1. Donor and government focus in aquaculture has traditionally been in the small-holder sector. Consequently, commercial aquaculture has felt left out and is equally in need of support.

The Workshop recommended to each of the Governments of Zambia and Malawi:

  • To speed up the preparation of clear national policies, strategies, plans and legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks for commercial aquaculture development and, while preparing aquaculture subsector development policies and strategies, to give due attention to defining financial incentives and promotional instruments to use in order to encourage investment, especially by the private sector, in commercial aquaculture and to ensure full participation of all stakeholders, including those from allied industries (feed manufacturing, hatcheries, processing and marketing etc.) in the process;
  • To support start-up aquaculture and allied industries such as private hatcheries and feed mills in their pilot stage with clear and simple regulations, as well as by fiscal incentives such as tax exemptions, tax holidays, exemptions of import duty on machinery and other necessary inputs like basic feed ingredients;
  • To define deliberate, clear policies to guide financing institutions on the borrowing and lending for start-up industries such as commercial aquaculture;
  • To facilitate the establishment of models of economic and financial feasibility of commercial aquaculture ventures and allied industries. These models would allow financial institutions to objectively evaluate investment proposals in aquaculture and allied industries.
  • To facilitate borrowers for commercial operations to access loans by looking into the possibilities of using loan guaranties and special interest rates;
  • To promote and support research on, and preservation of, indigenous species, and to strengthen the research-extension farmer linkages in order to ensure a proper and effective dissemination of research findings;
  • To consistently look for means of organizing study tours and for attendance at international meetings and conferences by government officers, extensionists and the private sector in commercial aquaculture and allied industries, to other countries in the region with the aim of exchanging experiences and allowing them to better serve the aquaculture sector development;
  • To create awareness and appreciation of aquaculture products in order to increase consumer demand at the local and national levels;
  • To designate ADZs (Aquaculture Development Zones) and EPZs (Economic Preferential Zones) with fast track mechanisms in place for investors.

The workshop requested FAO to provide support to the Governments of Zambia and Malawi in their promotion of sustainable commercial aquaculture in specific fields such as:

  • Documenting the sources of financing and existing funding mechanisms for commercial aquaculture in the region;
  • Strengthening national-level commercial fish farmersí associations and the strengthening of their lobby force and linkages of existing regional networks of commercial fish farmers;
  • Creating awareness among non-governmental organizations (NGOs), possible donor agencies, funding institutions and investors on the role of commercial aquaculture in supporting economic growth, with the aim of seeking the extension and increase of their assistance and support to the subsector; and
  • Continuing to regularly monitor, review and analyse what has been done in terms of commercial aquaculture development in Africa and elsewhere, with the aim of extracting and disseminating success stories of aquaculture investment, including policy development and implementation, and financial and economic successes and failures.
For more information on this workshop or other FAO activities under the "Sustainable commercial aquaculture development in Sub-Sahara Africa" theme please contact the Fishery Policy and Planning Division (FIPP):
Nathanael Hishamunda,

or Raymon van Anrooy,