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FAO in Mozambique

Supporting fish farming initiatives in Mozambique

In Mozambique, the overall fish production from aquaculture has been declining in the last decade, mainly due to high production costs and poor production techniques in the country. However, recently FAO has been supporting some promising initiatives that use fish farming as a source of income.

Traditionally, the Mozambican aquaculture sector is made-up of many small-scale extensive fish farms. Production is mainly used for self-consumption, though some surpluses are sold, usually very close to the village. Inland aquaculture production in Mozambique is currently low, estimated to total some 200 tonnes of fish per year.

The production comes from around 9 000, predominantly subsistence level ponds, mainly in Manica, Sofala, Zambezia, Niassa and Tete Provinces. Production falls well short of demand, which has been growing rapidly in recent years in rural areas, and especially in towns. The supplies of marine fish, such as mackerel have been expanding, but they are not able to meet demand, and relatively limited quantities reach inland areas.

The main farmed species in the country at a subsistence level is Oerochromis mosambicus, which is suitable and well adapted to the biophysical conditions in the country, including those in Manica and Sofala provinces.

For eight years, Jeremias Agapito, has been developing his farm that includes a fish farming unit. This unit breeds and grows freshwater fish (Oerochromis mosamibicus). He has a Master degree in Mechanized Agriculture and Livestock and is one of the fish farmers with commercial aspirations in the south Mozambican province of Inhambane. Jeremias has 12 fishponds and produces an average of approximately 300 000 fingerlings a year. On request of the government of Mozambique, this initiative has received the support of FAO through improved technical equipment to increase production.

Jeremias' initial motivation came from the fact that the property, left by his parents, had a pond that could be used for farming. "I started fish farming in an experimental tank, only to fatten the fish and later I began to reproduce the fish," he explained.

Jeremias who already had experience in agriculture, decided to attempt an approach to fish farming that integrated the feeding of fish with agricultural products and manure for practicing green water culture in.

Today, Jeremias has 10 employees and the company, called Piagropecus, is already generating an income.

Jeremias was invited to an international conference in Zambia to represent the fish farmers of Mozambique, where he benefited through exchanging experiences with other fish farmers from more than 20 countries. Following this exchange, FAO experts from various countries visited his fish farm several times to provide more support, both through training and practical on-farm support.

"I have attended various training courses through FAO and improved my knowledge, and this training, combined with on-farm support really helped me a lot in improving my farm on various technical aspects and also in operational procedures," he added. "With this support from the government of Mozambique assisted by FAO, I was able to start fish farming as a business".

Besides venturing into farming, Jeremias is a teacher at the Higher Polytechnic Institute of Gaza, where he teaches Agricultural Engineering, Zootechnological Engineering, Forestry Engineering, Aquaculture Engineering and more subjects. Piagropecus receives students from several schools to do practical and end-of-course work on aquaculture. Through the initiative, 30 students have received diplomas in engineering.

Arsénia David has just finished the course and she is doing the professional internship at Piagropecus. "It is interesting to work with fish and I like this area. I already know how to manage feeding of the fish and to identify their sex, she says. After the internship, Arsénia will look forward to an opportunity to continue working as a fish farmer in a company like Piagropecus.

Jeremias is only one of several beneficiaries of FAO's project for Development Support to Commercial Aquaculture in Inhambane Province. Through FAO's aquaculture project, Piagropecus technicians had the opportunity to learn and improve their aquaculture techniques and business skills (breeding, grow-out, green water culture, feed management, and farm management).

In addition to Piagropecus technicians, the same project also trained approximately 100 small fish farmers in the districts of Zavala, Panda and Inhambane, and 35 extension workers from the Ministry of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries.

The aim of the project is essentially to implement a thorough capacity-building program for select producers with the potential to develop commercially viable aquaculture enterprises. This sets out to equip technical personnel and farmers with adequate practical skills and knowledge about aquaculture, and ultimately, in order to increase fish productivity and production, value addition and income and employment along the aquaculture value chain.