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Aquaculture Development and Research in
TANZANIA (continued)


2.1 Description of the Sector

2.1.1 Main participants

In Tanzania, fisheries and aquaculture research are handled mainly by the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI), a parastatal organization established in 1980. The Institute has four centres: Mwanza (on Lake Victoria), Kigoma (on Lake Tanganyika), Kyela (on Lake Nyasa) and Dar es Salaam (on the Indian Ocean), which is also the Institute's headquarters.

TAFIRI centres have different backgrounds. Mwanza was a station of the former East African Freshwater Fisheries Research Organization (EAFFRO) of the defunct East African Community. It has a sub-station in Shirati. Kigoma and Kyela centres were started in 1973 and 1978 respectively by the Ministry. For the first five years (1973–77), the Kigoma centre was run in collaboration with FAO experts.

Until 1980, the centres were directly run by the Ministry of Natural Resources. Then TAFIRI took over and its Director-General is now the chief executive of the institute. Under him fall the centre directors, directors of research and finance/administration staff.

TAFIRI has over 100 employees, out of whom 20 are research scientists. The majority of them are specialized in capture fisheries. The salaries and fringe benefits for researchers are not competitive enough as compared to those offered by our universities. The promotion of young scientists is based on their publication output, and support is provided. There is a Research and Publication Committee, comprising of a chairman and five members. The committee approves research proposals for funding and papers written for publication.

For better performance of its functions, the institute maintains a system of collaboration, consultation and cooperation with universities (Dar es Salaam and Sokoine) and other organizations, e.g. the Tanzania National Scientific Research Council, the Tanzania Industrial Research and Development Organizations, the Tanzania Fisheries Cooperation and any other person or body of persons established by or under any written law with functions related to fisheries.

The University of Dar es Salaam also undertakes research studies. The Marine Centre in Zanzibar, which was previously under the East African Marine Fisheries Research Organization (EAMFRO), was taken over by this University.

Nyegezi Training Institute also deals with research in freshwater aquaculture. The institute was very active in research 20 years ago. In 1971, the Department of Fisheries was separated from the Ministry of Agriculture and was placed under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. Due to these changes, research fish ponds which were under the Nyegezi Training Institute were taken over by the Ukiriguru Agricultural Institute. This marked the end of research activities at the institute.

Therefore, the main actual participants in fisheries research are TAFIRI, the University of Dar es Salaam, foreign organizations and individuals. However, foreign research projects can only be carried out after having been approved by the National Research Council through TAFIRI.

The participation of the private sector of aquaculture in research in Tanzania cannot be neglected. The extension worker is continuously carrying out “research”, if he/she is doing his/her work properly. Those engaged fully in aquaculture development find themselves carrying out some studies on problems facing their farming activities; though at the end they are nationally useful. These include the Hombolo fish farming development programme (1982, Anglican Diocese), the Babati fish farming project (1984, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania) and Sukita and Mbega Melvin Consulting Engineers (1979).

Their main objectives for carrying out research have been to promote and refine their aquaculture activities by solving the prevailing problems.

2.1.2 Objectives of research

There are eight listed objectives (TAFIRI, 1984), of which those related to aquaculture are:

None of the above objectives are specifically aimed at promoting aquaculture development. This again is a clear indication that the research and development sectors in Tanzania have given a very low priority to aquaculture. It appears that the failure of the research sector in clearly defining research objectives for aquaculture is caused by the non-existence of a national aquaculture development plan.

There is also a very serious communication gap between the various fisheries research institutions (TAFIRI, training institutes and universities). There is a tendency in research and training institutes to look at universities as sources of purely academic research. The universities also do not incorporate other research institutions when undertaking their research programmes. For example, the Sokoine University of Agriculture has prepared a proposal on fish-farming research without even incorporating TAFIRI.

Despite this general trend, there are times when research institutions do cooperate. For example, at the moment a follow up of the study on tilapia culture initiated by Mafwenga (1989) is currently being jointly studied by TAFIRI in collaboration with the Kunduchi Training Institute, with the intention of implementing it. The pilot study aims at integrating tilapia species with agriculture and animal husbandry, in which wind pumps would be used to supply water. The main beneficiaries would be students and fish farmers (Kimaro, pers.comm.).

TAFIRI should try to collaborate with NGOs and individuals who are seriously engaged in fish farming development. Through this, TAFIRI will be able to conduct their research with the farmers' current problems in mind. This approach is essential in attaining viable and sustainable aquaculture in Tanzania. As seen in the second objective above, TAFIRI is the main body from where people can ask for advice.

According to Bayona (pers.comm.), research on a consultancy basis is very minimal. Prof.P.O.J. Bwathondi has been asked to advise on the viability of prawn culture in Bagamoyo as well as on fish farming practices in Butiama (Bwathondi, pers.comm.). The details of these studies have not been made available to the author.

2.1.3 General orientation

The few specific research programmes selected by TAFIRI, the private sector/individuals and international organizations are generally geared towards promoting and improving fish farming. Table 7 shows the general orientation of some of the programmes in relation to multiple factors of development.

A lot has been done on biotechnological aspects of aquaculture, especially on species identification and feeds. The University of Dar es Salaam and the Nyegezi Institute were very active between 1974 and 1980, but later very little was done.

Table 7

Orientation of some of the research programmes in Tanzania

Aspect of studyOrganization/IndividualsComments
(e.g. reproduction and culture techniques)
University of Dar es Salaam
(Barley, 1966)
• Listed major cultivated species and cage culture trial in Tanzania
• Oyster culture (Sankarank Utly)
• Lobster culture (health)
• Milkfish culture (Mndeme)
• Preliminary trials with seaweed (Shinyanga) and oyster cultures (Mshigeni, 1984)
Nyegezi Freshwater InstituteT. rendalli and O. pangani culture ponds
• Cage culture trials with O. esculentus and T. zillii (not successful)
• Hybridization trials with O. andersonii and T. zillii (produce 100 per cent males)
• Supplementary feed trials: brewery wastes and fish meal (10:1) (a good diet)
Korogwe fish farm (1950)Rice paddy culture (fish yield 112 kg/ha/year)
Morogoro prison farmDuck-cum-fish culture trials (not successful)
Hombolo fish farming development programme• Culture of Cyprinus carpio (not successful)
O. niloticus culture (successful)
• Use of Leucaena in tilapia culture
• Integrated culture (fish crops and livestock)
(e.g. feasibility of production models, markets)
Cambridge-Tanzania aquaculture project
(Hague, 1991)
The economics of aquaculture in Northern Tanzania
(Seki, 1991, unpublished)
Socio-economic survey of aquaculture in Ruvuma Region
(e.g. zonation, impact on the environment)
Babati(ELCT) fish farming project (1984–92)
(Murnyak, 1990, unpublished)
Growth rate of O. niloticus in relation to altitude
The effect of agro-aquaculture on mangroves (Bwathondi and Mwaya, 1986)
Mangroves must be protected when shrimp culture is introduced
(e.g. activity profiles of target groups, consumption habits
Cambridge-Tanzania Project
(Hague, 1991)
Social feasibility of aquaculture in Northern Tanzania

Table 8

Research projects externally funded at TAFIRI

('000 USD)
Fishery survey/multipurpose vessel1973      ODA 105
Haplochromis ecological survey team (HEST), Lake Victoria1977     
  60–200 p.a.
        200 p.a.
Fishery survey/Stiegler's Gorge reservoir1980–81NORAD-
Support to TAFIRI for research on Lake Victoria1987–88IDRC 154
2.1.4 Available resources

TAFIRI, the main body involved in aquaculture research, needs competent and well-educated researchers. A multi-disciplinary approach for a comprehensive research is also essential.

Graduates from Kunduchi, Mbegani and Nyegezi Institutes (diploma and certificate holders) have always been employed by the government and for the backbone of fisheries administration and management in the Regions. The few university graduates who have been trained locally and abroad are employed as fisheries officers or instructors. A number of them form the nuclear of research officers at TAFIRI. Other have been employed by the universities as lecturers in various fisheries-related disciplines.

However, researchers and professionals who contribute on a sustainable basis to the scientific background and to the development of aquaculture are few. Aquaculturists, fisheries economists, sociologists, geneticists, statisticians and computer scientists have always been neglected in fisheries training priorities.

To date there are about six aquaculturists in TAFIRI and the Department of Fisheries. These aquaculturists are scattered with no joint programme or activities. There is a drain of aquaculture research staff, due to transfers to administrative duties, e.g. the Director General of TAFIRI (Ph. D level) and an aquaculturist in Arusha Region (M.Sc. in Aquaculture).

The existing facilities at TAFIRI are those inherited from the predecessor establishment: laboratories (Kigoma and Mwanza) for fisheries biology, hydroacoustic equipment for stock assessment, extraction sets and chemicals for pollution monitoring and research boats. There are small libraries with few journals and publications. No facilities are fully meant for aquaculture research.

The national pilot-scale aquaculture centre in the Morogoro Region which was meant for research, demonstration and training has not taken off. Most of the regional and district centres which could cater for minor research to solve local problems need rehabilitation; in Mallya, for example, the abandoned government ponds have been taken over by ELCT for rehabilitation (Murnyak, pers.comm.).

The role once played by the universities and training institutes (especially Dar es Salaam and Nyegezi) in aquaculture research has been important (Table 7). At the moment, the institutes lack the necessary facilities for aquaculture research, for example ponds, water analysis kits, personnel, etc.

The Morogoro Agricultural University is planning to start a fish farming research centre, including laboratories and ponds, by September 1993 (Katule, pers.comm.).

NGOs and individual researchers from abroad have contributed a lot to aquaculture research in Tanzania. The Hombolo Fish Farming Development Programme Centre (FFDP) has a fish hatchery, fish ponds, crops, ducks, pigs, goats and oxen, training facilities as well as a laboratory for development and research. ELTC is planning to have an integrated centre for animal husbandry and fish farming in Babati. Its sub-station (Bacho) has already started with a classroom, 12 ponds, dairy cows, goats and agro-forestry.

2.1.5 Main research programmes

Few national research programmes have been carried out in Tanzania, and all of them have been executed with external help or under the University of Dar es Salaam. TAFIRI has not conducted any significant study at the national level. The main research programmes are discussed next.

  1. Seaweed culture

    A number of studies have been undertaken by the University of Dar es Salaam on the physiology, morphology, distribution and ecology of Tanzania's red, brown and green algae (Mshigeni, 1976, 1979, 1984). Potentials for Eucheuma farming in Zanzibar and Pemba Islands, with the intention of starting demonstration farming centres, have been studied. The objective was to initiate seaweed farming activities in Tanzania using the off-bottom cultivation method for E. spinosum and E. striatum. To do this, three fisheries officers went to the Philippines for practical training on Eucheuma farming technology. Results are shown by the well-developed seaweed culture industry in Zanzibar.

  2. Study on seaweed collection and culture in Tanzania

    The study was undertaken by ALCOM in collaboration with the Fisheries Division. It provided an overview of the seaweed industry based on secondary source information. The immediate objective of the study was to initiate the investigations on the potential for future development of seaweed cultivation in Tanzania (Sen, 1991). The study took 19 days (2–21 July 1990). It was carried out by a team consisting of a consultant fisheries economist, a senior aquaculturist and a botanist. The activities foreseen by this study were:

  3. Economic and social feasibility of aquaculture in Northern Tanzania

    The Cambridge-Tanzania Aquaculture Project was envisaged as a two-man team from the University of Cambridge and the University College of London (Hague, 1991). The purpose of this study was to examine the relatively new farming concept of aquaculture in the context of its use as a development policy amongst small-scale rural farmers in Africa. The study did the following:

2.2 The Institutional Framework of Research

2.2.1 Administrative context

The coordination between the Department of Fisheries (users of research findings) and TAFIRI is via the Research Section in the department (Figure 2).

The research priorities are determined by the Board of Directors, according to the national development priorities. Researchers are always free to choose their research topic according to the TAFIRI objectives or according to request of the users. The researchers will submit their proposals to the Research and Publication Committee of TAFIRI. The committee approves the research proposal for funding. The committee reviews applications quarterly. The committee, together with the Director of Research, also monitors the research progress and recommends ways of improving it.

TAFIRI receives most of its funds as subvention from the government. It is rather small; in 1987–88, TAFIRI was allocated only 7 percent of the department's budget.

Very little money generated by the institute goes to research. As such, external donors are the main source of research funding. Table 8 shows some of the externally-funded research projects; aquaculture did not receive any funds.

The dissemination of the results to the users is supposed to be done through reports or publications which are distributed to all bodies/individuals involved in aquaculture development. Pamphlets and mass education media such as radio and magazines are other means of publicizing the results. However, due to the low level of aquaculture research, it is difficult to assess the utility and transfer of the research findings.

2.2.2 Tasks delegated to research

The need for research to support sustainable aquaculture development in Tanzania cannot be neglected. The aquaculture sector also realizes the need to set correctly the research priorities in accordance with national needs and available human and material resources. However, the fact that aquaculture development has been given low priority results in the low priority being given to aquaculture research as well.

In the national context, research aimed at serving immediate and short-term needs should have priority over that aimed at long-term needs and that contributing to academic knowledge. Research priorities must also better reflect the needs of the users and decision-makers.

2.3 Contribution of Research to Development

Generally, aquaculture research has not sufficiently concentrated on subjects essential for a rapid development of aquaculture. For the private research sector engaged in aquaculture, the contribution of research has improved farming techniques or extension packages to be used in specific projects, although they have later become helpful at national level. Below are discussed research activities by those involved in development.

2.3.1 Fish Farming Development Programme, Hombolo

At FFDP, Hombolo, a suitable species for culture has been identified. In 1982, the centre used a local tilapia (T. zillii) caught in Hombolo dam. This species did not give satisfactory results. Later, Nile tilapias (Oreochromis niloticus) have been used. To date the centre is producing 70 000 fingerlings annually and these are distributed all over the country at TZS 5.00 each. Also, the culture of mirror carp (Cyprinus carpio) has been put under trial. These were imported from U.K. in 1985. The study has shown that mirror carp is not a suitable species for fish farming in Tanzania as they die very easily when handled or netted. Besides, they do not breed naturally (Fowler, pers.comm.).

2.3.2 Fish farming project

In the Babati area, the use of motivators or farmer trainers alone has shown some problems. The little knowledge of the farmers on fish farming techniques and data recording has affected the levels of output. Also the need for supervision after the withdrawal of the two foreign aquaculturists has been identified. To improve and solve these problems, a new extension package project has been initiated by the Regional Fisheries Office and ELCT. This project is funded by OXFAM. Under this project the motivators will work together with fisheries extension workers at village level to assist the farmers. The extension workers have already undergone a two-week refresher course on fish farming and extension techniques. Under this programme, 80 motivators and 12 extension officers are expected to be trained (Mafwenga and Murnyak, 1992).

2.3.3 Studies at the Mahiwa Centre, Lindi Region

The Lindi Region gets support from ODA, VSO and APO from U.K. The experimental studies carried out include:

By 1992, the annual fingerling production from the centre was more than 100 000 fingerlings (Chusi, pers.comm.).


3.1 Development Priorities

The Fisheries Division has been formulating the development strategies, either on its own or with the assistance of donor organizations. However, the formulation of priorities has created a dilemma to the planners, as these have varied from the country's need for foreign exchange as a priority to the need for fish protein or food and the generation of employment opportunities for nationals.

The following priorities are those set by the Department of Fisheries, most of the strategies having been proposed or recommended by those fully involved in aquaculture development.

3.1.1 Short-term priorities
  1. To improve extension services by giving them means of making periodic visits and advising fish farmers. This should prevent the number of active ponds and level of pond management from further decline.


  2. To increase food production


3.1.2 Medium-term priorities
  1. To expand extensions services, their ranges and efficiency.


  2. To increase the income of farmers which, in turn, will boost the economic status of the country.


  3. Direct coordination of aquaculture national plans is needed to ensure proper accountability in implementing them as suggested at the National Seminar, 1988, and National Meeting, 1990.

    Strategy: Restructure administration by centralizing the present fragmented organization structure of the ministry.

  4. To create job opportunities in rural areas


  5. Data collection to strengthen and create awareness to the farmers and extensionists on their importance.


3.2 Aquaculture Research Priorities

TAFIRI has listed aquaculture as one of the research topics for all its centres. However, due to the low priority given to aquaculture, no research has been carried out (Bayona, pers.comm.). To meet the objectives of improving aquaculture methods, controlling diseases and establishing fish farms, TAFIRI has set a series of priorities, listed below. In addition, other priorities have been proposed by various institutions/organizations/individuals. They are also listed below.

3.2.1 Short-term priorities

Priorities set by TAFIRI

No strategies have been defined on how these research priorities will be implemented.

Other priorities

  1. Research on other sources of feeds, apart from those used in animal husbandry.


    The study should start with areas where high competition for feed ingredients between fish farming and animal husbandry exists, e.g. Arusha, Ruvuma, Mbeya and Iringa Regions.

  2. In-depth assessment at district and regional levels of:

  3. Research on the potential of mariculture along the mainland coast


3.2.2 Medium-term priorities
  1. Economics and acceptability of fish farming in Tanzania


  2. Relative effectiveness of extension packages used by different Regions


    The Arusha, Ruvuma, Mbeya and Iringa Regions' approach should be assessed for improvement and adaptation.

  3. Gender-related issues of fish farming

    Women are the key people in crop production. Their importance in attaining sustainable fish-farming development should be investigated.

  4. Improvement in the culture of freshwater species (e.g. tilapia) in ponds and dams


  5. On-farm research organization


  6. Research on low-cost aquaculture systems. This should help in answering key socio-economic questions relating to technology implementation and farm management.


    Study the acadja pond system versus cage culture.


Tanzania, being a subsistence-agriculture country, has a considerable potential for developing aquaculture. Fish farming can be easily integrated with agriculture and animal husbandry by rural communities.

The government has also to realize that fish farming development and research need all the necessary back up to succeed. Fully conversant extensionists on aquaculture techniques as well as extension skills are needed. However, these workers need government motivation and support. Key “informants” such as motivators need to be recruited in the early stages of the programmes. In general, extension services need to be strengthened.

The government has to realize that sustainable aquaculture requires funds, facilities, hard data, training and scientific research. Its support to the sector must be consistent, any negative change in the volume of the government's commitment being drastically reflected upon the farmers at the village level.

The Department of Fisheries should have a direct control over the regions and districts. This would help national plans' implementation and control, as well as accountability of the staff at all levels.

Aquaculture projects initiated or executed by donor organizations can only succeed when implemented with more foresight. The society in which the programme is to be initiated must first display both an aptitude to undertake fish farming and a desire to do so without large amounts of external funding. However, basic requirements such as nets, fry transport facilities, means of transport for extensionists, etc., should be provided. Small-scale hatcheries and training centres should be constructed at regional and district levels. To reduce their dependency to donor agencies they need to have a profit-generating approach by adopting fish farming integrated with agriculture and animal husbandry.

It is important to let the farmers and local officers be involved in organizing aquaculture projects and to encourage by all means early independence.

To strengthen the national research capabilities and effectiveness as support for aquaculture development, the present research institutes need to be provided with adequate resources. To do this, international aid is greatly needed. Researchers have to be trained and the training institutes have to include a specialization in aquaculture, with practical classes.

Finally, the country needs to define its priorities in aquaculture so as to enable research institutions to plan their programmes. However, the work of private and individual researchers who are fully engaged in aquaculture development should be recognized and cherished, as their findings are of help to the country as a whole.


Balarin, J.D., 1985. National reviews for aquaculture development in Africa. 11. Tanzania. FAO Fish.Circ., (770.11):105 p.

Barley, R.G., 1966. The dam fisheries of Tanzania. East African Agric.For.J., 32(1):1–15

Bonzon, A., 1988. Contribution to the formulation of a five-year plan for the fisheries sector. Rome, FAO, FI:TCP/URT/6763, 205 p.

Bwathondi, P.O.J. and G.L.A. Mwaya2, 1986. The effect of agro-aquaculture on mangroves. Paper presented at the IBN Workshop, Nairobi, Kenya

FAO/GCP, 1983. Regional integrated development plan and rural development project, Mbeya Region. Vol.1, Parts I and II. FAO/Government Cooperative Programme, Mbeya RIDEP Project.

Fisheries Department, 1989. Sera ya Uvuvi. Ministry of Land, Natural Resources and Tourism, Dar es Salaam

Fisheries Department, 1990. Annual statistics report. Ministry of Tourism, Natural Resources and Environment, Fisheries Division, Dar es Salaam

Gulland, J. (ed.), 1979. Report on the FAO/IOP Workshop on the Fishery Resources of the Western Indian Ocean South of the Equator. FAO, Rome, IOFC/DEV/79/45, 102 p.

Goult, R.E., 1951. Progress of fish farming in Tanzania. Fish.Ser.Pamphlet, (2)

Hague, M.T., 1991. The economic and social feasibility of aquaculture in Northern Tanzania. Final Report of the Cambridge-Tanzania Aquaculture Project

Ibrahim, K., 1975. National plan for development of aquaculture in Tanzania. In UNDP/FAO, Aquaculture Planning in Africa. ADCP/REP/75/1:108–113

Mafwenga, G.L.A., 1989. A research centre on integrated fish farming with dairy cattle and pigs. Dar es Salaam, TAFIRI Proposal, 10 p.

Mafwenga, G.L.A. and D. Murnyak, 1992. Fish farming development in Arusha Region. Fish.Reg.Office/ELTC Coop.Progr.Proposal

Meschkat, A., 1967, The status of warmwater fish culture in Africa. FAO Fish.Rep., 44(2):88–122

Mshigeni, K.E., 1976. Field cultivation of Hypnea (Rhodophyta) spores for carrageenan: prospects and problems. Botanica Marina, 19(4):227–30

Mshigeni, K.E., 1979. Seaweed resources of Tanzania. Department of Botany, University of Dar Es Salaam

Mshigeni, K.E., 1984. The red algal genus Eucheuma (Gigartinales, Solieriaceae) in East Africa: an under-exploited resource. Hydrobiologia, 116/117:347–50

Sen, S., 1991. Seaweed collection and culture in Tanzania. ALCOM Field Doc., (14):29 p.

TAFIRI, 1984. The Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute. Introduction and historical background. Dar es Salaam, TAFIRI, 14 p. (mimeo)

UNDP/FAO, 1981. Tanzania aquaculture development. Project revision. Rome, FAO, URT/78/004/G/01/12:17 p. (mimeo)

2 Mwaya is the author's maiden name

Appendix 1


Lema, RaphaelSenior Aquaculturist, Fisheries Division, Dar es Salaam
Keegan, A.G.Fisheries Technician, VSO, P.O. Box 42, Masasi
Marumbwa, B.H.Fisheries Officer, District Natural Resources Office, P.O. Box 42, Masasi
Fowler, J.P.Programme Coordinator, Fish Farming Development Programme, P.O. Box 793, Dodoma
Chusi, Felix L.Assistant Fisheries Officer I, Fisheries Division, P.O. Box 277, Lindi
Frederiksen, P.First Secretary (Development), Royal Danish Embassy, P.O. Box 9171, Dar es Salaam
Burn, N.Field Officer, VSO Field Office, P.O. Box 6297, Dar es Salaam
Mr MapoluActing Regional Fisheries Officer, Morogoro
Dr KatuleAnimal Science Department, Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA)
Mr KimaroActing Principal, Kunduchi Marine Fisheries Institute, Dar es Salaam
Mr BayonaSenior Research Officer, TAFIRI, P.O. Box 9750, Dar es Salaam
Murnyak, D.Fish Farming Project, P.O. Box 124, Babati, Arusha
Bwathondi, P.J.O.Director-General, TAFIRI, P.O. Box 9750, Dar es Salaam

Appendix 2


(Arusha Region; size of pond: 100 m2)

Initial costs *In TZS
Pond construction5 000
Outlets, inlets and wire mesh (local materials)200
Fishing net5 000
Fingerlings (5 TZS each)1 000
Total11 400
Maintenance costs (for 1 year) 
Feed3 000
Fertilizer1 500
Pond maintenance1 000
Total5 500
Gross profit (sales): 
25 kg fish × TZS 400/kg10 000
3 000 fingerlings × 5 TZS15 000
Total25 000
Gross profit25 000
Total costs6 640
Net profit18 360

* Initial costs are divided by the lifespan of the pond (10 years)

Appendix 3


Tilapia melanopleura (syn. T. rendalli)

T. zilii

Oreochromis andersonii

O. niloticus

O. spilurus niger (ex T. nigra)

O. macrochir

O. ruvumae

T.melanopleura + O. niloticus (polyculture)

Barbus spp. (Missionary Centre - Ruvuma in 1971)

Clarias spp. (Ujamaa Village - Ruvuma in 1971)

Gambusia affinis (TPRI - Arusha, 1978)

Salmo trutta

Oncorhynchus mykiss (syn. Salmo gairdneri)

Black bass (Iringa, 1973)

Grass carp

Source: Regional Annual Reports

Appendix 4


Fisheries Biology (FB)500
Food Technology (FT)430
Marine Engineering (ME)340
Nautical Science (NS)640
Fisheries Management and Administration310
Grand total2 220

Source: Kunduchi Marine Fisheries institute, Dar es Salaam. Syllabus for Diploma Course in Fisheries. Revised - 1990

Appendix 5


Seaweed Farming with practicals5
Freshwater Fish Culture50
Pond Management 
Pond Fertilization 
Fish Food 
Stock Manipulation 
Suitable Species 
Weed Infestation 
Fish Culture and Public Health 
Introduction of Exotic Species 
Fish Breeding 
Practicals 1 
Commonly Farmed Species 
Management Procedures 
Practicals/visits 1 

1No ponds for practicals

Aquaculture Research and Development in

Department of Fisheries
Chilanga, Zambia

Figure 1

Figure 1. Zambia: Government fish-culture centres and major private fish farms


ADBAfrican Development Bank
ALCOMAquaculture for Local Community Development Programme (SIDA/Belgium/FAO)
CUSACredit Union and Savings Association
DoADepartment of Agriculture
DoFDepartment of Fisheries
FAOFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
IFADInternational Fund for Agricultural Development
IRDPIntegrated Rural Development Project
JICAJapanese International Cooperation Agency
KFTCKasaka Fisheries Training Centre, Kafue
MAFFMinistry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries
NARECNational Agricultural Research and Extension Committee
NAISNational Agricultural Information Service
NCDPNational Commission for Development Planning
NCSRNational Council for Scientific Research
NGONon-Governmental Organization
NORADNorwegian Agency for International Development
NRDCNatural Resources Development College
PAOProvincial Agricultural Officer
PFCProvincial Fish Culturist
PFDOProvincial Fisheries Development Officer
PPUProvincial Planning Unit
SADCSouthern African Development Community
SIDASwedish International Development Authority
SWBSmall water body
UNHCRUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
UNZAUniversity of Zambia
USAIDU.S. Agency for International Development
VAPVillage Agricultural Programme
ZCFZambia Cooperatives Federation
ZCSZambia Catholic Secretariat
ZMKZambian kwacha (in April 1993: USD 1 = ZMK 540)


1.1 History of Development

Fish farming in Zambia has a history dating as far back as the forties, when the Joint Fisheries Research Organization (JFRO) undertook trials related to aquaculture. It was in the late fifties that aquaculture development operations started generating some interest and, even though progress was slow, by 1966 there were 1231 ponds with a total area of 100 ha producing approximately 88 t in 1967 and 750 t in 1985. The fish production of 750 t consisted of 86 t produced by small-scale rural farmers, 94 t by Government stations and 570 t by large commercial farms. After this promising initial development there was a rapid decline, mainly due to decreased extension services. By 1990 it was expected that production would increase to 2 000 tonnes (350, 150 and 1 500 t respectively). It was also hoped that production would be doubled by 1995.

Most small farmers' ponds are 0.01-to-0.04 ha in area and produce small-sized stunted tilapia owing to prolific breeding, leading to overpopulation. The government has 19 fish culture stations with a total area of 47 ha under water (Table 1, Figure 1). At these stations, ponds vary in size from 0.05 to 0.5 ha. Average yields range between 4 and 10 t/ha/year at stations employing integrated fish culture and 1 to 3.5 t/ha/year for those with other culture systems. The existing 20 commercial fish farms have larger ponds varying between 0.5 and 1 ha. Yields have varied between 0.3 t/ha/year for village farm ponds and 3–16 t/ha/year for larger commercial farms.

Fish culture in Zambia has been historically based on a mixture of local species of tilapias and these are: Tilapia rendalli, Oreochromis andersonii and Oreochromis macrochir. Their prolific breeding leads to over-population and production of small-sized tilapias in ponds. However, in 1981 the UNDP/FAO-assisted project reintroduced the integrated cultural system with livestock and demonstrated that fish harvests of 3,5 and 7 t/ha/year can be obtained by adding manure of chicken, ducks and pigs respectively. These yields were obtained in monoculture trials of O. andersonii. Mixtures with other local species (O. macrochir and T. rendalli) gave comparable results, but O. andersonii had the best growth rate.

Significant yields achieved in certain pond farms and benefits derived have aroused widespread interest both in the public and private sectors. Most private commercial farms are situated away from the major capture fishery centres and contribute to availability of fresh fish in areas where they are not easy to get in good condition. Some commercial farms owned by industrial enterprises produce fish for feeding their workers contributing to their nutrition. Educational and training institutions and other public institutions have shown keen interest in fish culture to help in improving nutritional standards of the Zambian youth. Public water conservation reservoirs managed by district councils for local communities are also used for fish production. The major function of government fish farms is seed production and distribution to farmers, besides demonstration and farmer training, although most of the government fish farms are in a state of disrepair. UNDP/FAO assistance in the eighties helped to revive and expand some of them for pilot studies and trials.

Current figures indicate that the number of pond owners now stands at over 4 000, ponds numbering more than 10 000 and total area under water reaching approximately 1 500 ha (Table 2).

There has been recently considerable growth of private involvement in fish farming. A great number of village pond owners have small ponds (100 to 400 m2) producing fish mainly for family consumption; their total annual production amounts to 86 tonnes at the most. Small-scale medium ponds predominate, averaging in size about 0.2 ha and yielding from 300 to 500 kg/ha/year. Such yield could be improved by better management practices, better stocking rates, regular manuring and continuous cropping.

Table 1

Government fish culture centres

ProvinceName of stationNumber of pondsTotal area
SouthernKanchele10 O. andersonii, O. macrochir, T. rendalli
WesternKaoma17  1.6idem
Cyprinus carpio, O. andersonii, O. andersonii, O. macrochir, T. rendalli
Mwenge *
Malole *
Senga Hills


C. carpio, O. andersonii

O. macrochir, T. rendalli
, O. andersonii

T. rendalli
 T.rendalli, O. macrochir, O. andersonii
LusakaChilanga44    4.49C. carpio, O. niloticus, O. mortimeri, O. andersonii
O. macrochir
T. rendalli, O. andersonii
O. macrochir
C. carpio, O. andersonii
O. macrochir
T. rendalli
O. andersonii
C. carpio, T. rendalli, O. macrochir, O. andersonii

* Satellite seed centre

Large commercial operations with farm complexes of 3 to 35 ponds and small reservoirs have yields of 3.6 to 16 t/ha/year. The cultural systems utilized may include raceways, circular tanks, aeration and the use of heated effluents. Most large-scale fish farms have started as an auxiliary to livestock production and a profitable way of disposing of animal manure while converting it to fish protein. Others were started in order to recycle waste products from agriculture operations and/or to utilize existing water resources, to provide food to workers or to reinvest non-transferable incomes. In Zambia, fish less than 100 g in weight are readily marketable and are not a profitability constraint. Livestock husbandry is well developed and once manures are efficiently disposed of there is an additional financial benefit.

Other indigenous species such as the catfish, Clarias gariepinus, Serranochromis spp. and Haplochromis mellandi have been used for controlling tilapia and snail populations in ponds. Some private farms culture catfishes species on a large scale. Some exotic species have been introduced to boost production, such as common carp (Cyprinus carpio), grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). One farm has successfully been producing Procambarus clarkii, a freshwater crayfish. Government stations and most small scale farmers continue to use tilapias only, even though some carpiculture experiments are being carried out at the Chipata, Mwekera, Solwezi and Chilanga public farms.

Except for one local enterprise (Nakambala Sugar Estate) which uses feeds formulated from local ingredients, production in ponds is generally enhanced through fertilization with animal wastes and supplementary feeding with brewery and milling wastes where available. Other agro-byproducts are used to supplement feeding. Integrated fish and animal husbandry systems are encouraged to alleviate problems related to feeding of fish.

Table 2

Aquaculture statistics for the nine provinces

ProvinceArea (km2)Rural Population *Total number of fish farmersTotal number of ponds
Southern  85 283  755 969   184     926
Western126 386  536 114     62      90
Copperbelt  31 328  150 845   276     757
Northern147 826  744 3381 008  2 917
Central  94 394  509 588     43      58
Lusaka  21 896  166 507   176     367
Luapula  50 567  443 669   728  2 002
Eastern  69 106  888 104   424     762
North-Western125 826  337 5471 309  2 517
Total 4 532 6814 21010 396

* 1990 census of population housing and agriculture farmers' ponds, 1992 reports to DoF

1.2 Institutional Framework

Operating in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (MAFF), the Department of Fisheries (DoF) is the official administrative body for development and management of fisheries and aquaculture. Until 1991, the DoF consisted of four divisions of which fish culture was one. The Fish Culture Division was headed by the Chief fish culturist who was assisted by a senior fish culturist. Below them were 17 fish culturists distributed among the 19 fish culture stations in the provinces and supported by 76 fish scouts and 109 fish hands and general workers. Some provinces still have a post of provincial fish culturist (Copperbelt, Eastern and North Western Provinces, see Table 3).

Considering the differences in the basic activities involved in aquaculture and fisheries, the DoF structure is being reorganized since 1992 into two divisions for capture fisheries and aquaculture (Figure 2). All aquaculture activities (i.e. aquaculture research, training, extension and management of aquaculture stations) will fall under the administrative direction of an assistant director of aquaculture.

The Aquaculture Division will have the immediate responsibility for coordination of all activities relevant to aquaculture. There is a need to strengthen the staff of this newly created division if the targets of production and related benefits are to be achieved. With budgetary limitations and limited numbers of adequately trained staff, it can not be expected that all the 19 government stations will be brought up to the desired operating level within the short term. However, qualified administrative provincial staff provide additional support to stations separated from provincial headquarters.

Figure 2

Figure 2. Establishment chart for the Department of Fisheries

Table 3

Aquaculture Division personnel

AquaculturistsScout extension staffField support staffTotal
Central    00  1  7  3  11
Copperbelt    31  110  6  21
Eastern    02  01012  24
Luapula    00  1  5  4  10
Lusaka    40  01116  31
Northern    11  012  4  18
North-Western    22  010  5  19
Western    01  0  2  3    6
Southern    01  1  3  3    8

* Grade 12 and promotion
Technical cooperation staff: Copperbelt = 2 JICA/JOCV; Eastern = 1 ALCOM; Luapula = 1 ALCOM; Northern = 1 NORAD
Note: Table omits administration staff who at times assist in some programmes

1.3 Education and Training

The educational background of the Department of Fisheries aquaculturists varies at present from secondary school (grade 12), through diploma and degree holders from various aquaculture training institutions (Table 3). Most diploma holders were trained at the UNDP/FAO African Regional Aquaculture Centre in Nigeria and degree holders in the United Kingdom. Fish scouts or fisheries assistants have various qualifications up to junior secondary school (grade 9).

Basic training in general fisheries - a one-year certificate course for Fisheries Department extension staff - takes place at Kasaka Fisheries Training Centre in Kafue. Aquaculture forms only a small component (1 month) of the total course. Subsequent training in aquaculture is ad hoc and not standardized.

At the moment, there are no local training facilities for mid-level (since 1982), senior technical and professional staff within the country. Training of staff at these levels has to be sought from outside the country, and access to further training in aquaculture depends largely on whether there is a donor-funded project or not.

The University of Zambia (UNZA) only offers general biology courses through the School of Agriculture Science. However, it plans to introduce aquaculture in its animal science programme.

Between 1980 and 1992, fellowships from donor-funded projects have resulted in 10 members of the Department of Fisheries receiving post-graduate training in aquaculture at various institutions around the world at master's degree and diploma levels (Table 3).

National training activities depend on DoF resources and other projects working in the area of fish culture. Training of prospective fish farmers takes place at Mwekera fish farm near Kitwe.

The Fisheries Department still needs to strengthen the training of its core personnel at all three levels, i.e. professional staff, technical officers and aquaculture assistants.

1.4 Development Plans

National development plans in Zambia are carried out every five years. The current period covers 1989–1993.

In recognition of the urgency of meeting the nutritional demands of the growing population, agriculture has always received high priority in national development plans. Their main objective has been to achieve self sufficiency in food production in all sub-sectors concerned. The fisheries sub-sector has continued to receive attention as the supplier of as much as 55 per cent of the protein intake of the Zambians, while providing also an income for numerous people, especially in the rural communities.

The strategy for fisheries development comprises an integrated approach on the main problems affecting the sub-sector with emphasis on substantially improving production and per capita consumption levels. The pursuance of this strategy and its translation requires the following actions:

The production target for the fisheries sector in the current plan period is 94 000 t/year (a 43 percent increase from 1984) from capture fisheries and 4 210 t/year from aquaculture. The presence of favourable environmental conditions (climate, soil, water and land availability, see Figure 3) for fish farming in many parts of the country makes this target attainable during the plan period, if certain requirements can be fulfilled.

Other concepts in the development plans include:

Figure 3

Figure 3. Agro-ecological in Zambia

To aid small-scale aquaculture, the government aims at:

1.5 Evaluations

1.5.1 Potential for development

The potential for aquaculture development in Zambia has been the subject of studies by many donors, including FAO, NORAD, JICA and the World Bank. These studies have concluded that such prospects are good for several reasons.

  1. The high priority given by the government, particulary in view of the large shortfall in fish production from the capture fisheries, currently oscillating around 66 000 t against a demand of 120 000 t, as well as the need to cut on imports and reduce foreign expenditure.

  2. Liberalized economy and need for agricultural diversification.

  3. An established infrastructure in the form of 19 government demonstration fish farms scattered in all nine provinces (Figure 1) to provide extension services and fish seed to local communities; the policy of demonstrating the simplest efficient fish farming systems is given priority at each station and used as the basis for small-scale fish culture.

1.5.2 Development constraints

In spite of the extensive efforts being made to develop the aquaculture sector in the country, significant constraints exist which are generally the same as for capture fisheries:

1.5.3 Marketing

Fish marketing offers one of the few opportunities for most underprivileged people to earn cash. Fish farming has a particular advantage due to the possibility of harvesting fish during periods when captures from natural waters are low. In Zambia, the fishing closed season imposed yearly on natural fisheries from 1 December to 1 March is an incentive to fish farmers at all levels to market their produce.

Fish is provided directly for public sales at points of production. Some farmers have prepared their own harvesting and marketing plans, depending upon peak periods of supply and localities of high demand. There is no steadfast rule on how farmers dispose of their fresh fish. DoF is encouraging larger enterprises to try exotic cultured products which may increase marketability. However, most large-scale commercial farmers feel that appropriate ways of marketing fish farm products should be determined for convenience and premium prices.

1.5.4 Legislation aspects

Legislation is weak as aquaculture is not dealt with by specific clauses in national laws. Where these appear, they are so general that they tend to be overlooked. Lack of a legislative unit within DoF hampers the effective monitoring of aquaculture activity, such as fish movements and introductions.

Species indigenous to the Zambian waters have been given priority since the beginnings of aquaculture. They were selected according to their desirable feeding habits, growth rates and compatibility with other species. Exotic species of known fish farming performance are accepted but they should remain confined to fish ponds, without easy possibilities of escaping into natural waters.

1.5.5 The small-scale farmers as a target group

The government places great emphasis on integrated rural development programmes to attain self sufficiency in food production. Most pond owners in rural settings are generally medium and small-scale fish farmers. Ponds are invariably owned by individual households and are owner-managed. It is with these groups that fish production levels could be improved if better extension services and farmers training were provided.

Zambian rural populations incorporate an extended family system. Most tribes can be classified into either the patrilinear or the matrilinear system. In the patrilinear system property including land is handed down to sons and daughters while in the other system it is handed down to nephews and nieces. This is an important consideration for institutions offering credit facility with minimum security.

The main economic activity of rural populations is in subsistence farming, except in areas adjacent to large water bodies where artisanal fishing is the major economic activity. In the semi-arid regions of the Southern and Western Provinces, cattle herding is the main activity.

In principle, all land belongs to the State in Zambia so that land acquisition for farming purposes is generally not a problem. In the rural areas, land is under the charge of family units, but its use is also coordinated by local chiefs. In urban and peri-urban areas, land is state-controlled and access is by lease hold. While the former is more accessible but offers less security, the latter is less accessible but offers more security.

Rural inhabitants are generally self-employed as peasant farmers or artisanal fishermen. Employment is usually on an ad-hoc basis. Most artisanal fishermen have had no formal education. On the contrary, the majority of pond owners are literate and are generally people who have retired from previous employment.

Initial capital investment is minimum. Labourers are only hired during pond construction and occasionally at harvesting. When a monetary transaction is involved, a daily rate of about ZMK 3.15–5.50/day is currently used to pay hired labourers.

Fish farming being generally a part-time occupation, most pond owners are also cash-crop farmers of maize, sunflower, soya beans, ground nuts and sorghum. Integration practices with farm animals such as cattle, pigs, goats and chicken, is common practice, and the available manure is partly used for pond fertilization. Orchards and vegetable patches are frequently included in fish farms where they benefit from pond water and manure.

Incomes from small-scale fish farms are not well documented and no figures are available to the extension staff.

1.5.6 Credit policy

Public sector projects are financed by central or provincial governments while development projects may get inputs from bilateral or multilateral agencies, with government counterpart contributions. Integrated rural development projects usually include some fish culture component but there are generally few specific inputs for it.

In the private sector, farmers have the possibility to obtain credit and loans through private commercial banks. Very few small farmers have obtained such loans since the assessment procedure is very long, the interest rates are high and repayments are required within one year. Most farmers feel that a longer grace period would be more realistic since such fish farming operations take more than one year to become established and to start earning revenues. The procedure for assessing credit worthiness as well as loan conditions need to be reviewed on the basis of the realistic investment potentials and the practical results obtained with each fish culture system in particular (Fulconis, 1987).

Credit facilities are available to the small-scale fish farmers in the Copperbelt Province by private arrangement with lending institutions. In the North Western Province, grants have been provided for fish farming by the USAID-funded ICARA-II project. It has now been replaced by AFRICARE, which also provides loans.

The general lack of an organized credit system has been one of the major drawbacks in the development of aquaculture in Zambia. To address the situation, the government has contracted the African Development Bank (ADB) to review the rural credit system. Three financial institutions have been proposed for restructuring to accommodate the needs of small-scale farmers: the Zambia Cooperatives Federation (ZCF), the Credit Union and Savings Association (CUSA) and the LIMA Bank.

1.6 Production Statistics

While estimates of fish production could be obtained from the large-scale fish farms, only a few are able to provide reliable data, as fish farming is generally considered auxiliary, and records are poorly kept. The smaller units operating at the subsistence level keep no records at all. The shortage of well-trained and motivated extension personnel contributes to the absence of reliable statistics on aquaculture production.

It is estimated, however, that the annual production from aquaculture reaches now about 3 500 t/year. The total number of fish farmers and ponds in each province is given in Table 2.

1.7 Aquaculture Development Projects

Over the past 10 years, Zambia has received considerable external assistance for aquaculture development.

A UNDP/FAO project has been active in Zambia from 1980 to 1989 (FAO, 1990). Initially limited to Chilanga, it later spread to include Mwekera and Chipata fish-culture stations in 1981. Since then, these three rehabilitated centres have formed the nucleus of public aquaculture support. The project developed culture systems based on the monoculture of the indigenous tilapia Oreochromis andersonii, in combination with either pigs or Peking ducks. The project closed down in early 1989, when the technologies developed were being transferred to the extension service.

The SIDA/Belgium/FAO Aquaculture for Local Communities Development Programme (ALCOM) is an interregional programme focusing on SADC countries. It has implemented two projects in Zambia: from 1987, the field testing of aquaculture in rural development in the Eastern Province, and in 1989 the Aquaculture and Integrated Rural Development project in the Luapula Province (Wykstrom and Wahlstrom, 1992). The methodologies developed by these projects are ready for application on a wide scale in Zambia.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has provided a volunteer aquaculture research officer at Mwekera (Copperbelt) since 1981 to work on the reproduction of common carp and other exotic species. A jeep and a transport truck for live fish have also been provided. In 1986, under the supervision of the JICA expert, work on the construction of hatchery/laboratory facilities and a feed processing plant started. The expected completion date is November 1993.

The UNHCR/ZCS/USAID Refugee Malnutrition Relief project (1983–88) has promoted integrated rural fish culture in the Mwinilunga District of the North-Western Province. More than 950 small ponds for duck-cum-fish culture have been built, mostly by refugees from Zaire and Angola resettled in scattered Zambian villages.

The UNDP/AFRICARE project for fish production and income generation through improved fish pond management in the Mwinilunga District (NW Province) started in 1992. The project is rehabilitating the Mwinilunga state fish farm to improve demonstrations, training and seed supply. It is promoting integrated duck-cum-fish farming. A credit scheme for acquiring inputs for pond construction and management is being operated.

The NORAD Aquaculture Adaptive Research Programme through its Village Agricultural Programme (VAP) has, since 1988, been implementing a project aimed at strengthening fish-culture extension activities among small-scale rural fish farmers in the Northern Province.

In 1984, an FAO Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) undertook a pilot project to establish a fish seed production and distribution centre in Chilanga. The project lasted 10 months.

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