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FISH4ACP helps Zimbabwe develop tilapia farming

Value chain analysis opens dialogue on steps to sustainable growth of tilapia sector

29 March 2022, Harare – Tilapia farming can be a driver of economic growth and a source of employment in Zimbabwe, according to an assessment presented today to over fifty stakeholders and experts, who discussed ways to bolster this nascent sector, while ensuring that benefits are shared equitably and growth will not increase its environmental impact.  

“Zimbabwe has embarked on an ambitious expansion of its aquaculture production,” said Honourable Douglas Karoro, Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development at the start of a meeting today where the results of an analysis of Zimbabwe’s tilapia value chain was presented. He added: “Supporting tilapia farming is vital to achieve this goal and will contribute to poverty reduction, improved food security and economic growth.”  

According to the value chain analysis conducted by FISH4ACP and the Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe produces around 5 000 tonnes of farmed tilapia per year, 65 percent of which is exported to Zambia and other countries in the region. Tilapia production is dominated by one large-scale company that accounts for 94 percent of the output. The country’s 600 small-scale farmers produce less than 200 tonnes and mainly supply the local market. 

Zimbabwe is one of the twelve countries where FISH4ACP, an initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) implemented by FAO with funding from the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), is working to make fish value chains more productive and sustainable.  

“We are confident that this initiative will foster positive outcomes that can help Zimbabwe develop its aquaculture sector,” said Andrea Janoha of the EU Delegation in Zimbabwe. He added: “What is really important for the European Union is FISH4ACP’s holistic approach, as it looks at stimulating economic potential in such a way that benefits are shared equitably and without increasing the environmental impact.”  

During two days of discussion, over fifty stakeholders and experts involved in tilapia farming will review the outcomes of the value chain analysis that marked FISH4ACP’s start in Zimbabwe last year. Discussions will focus on ways to help the nascent sector take off and lead to an upgrading strategy meant to determine FISH4ACP’s activities for the years to come.  

“FISH4ACP is part of FAO’s efforts to transform aquatic food systems into drivers of employment, economic growth, social development and environmental recovery,” said Patrice Talla​, FAO’s Subregional Coordinator, adding: “We are happy to work on this blue transformation with the tilapia sector in Zimbabwe and tackle some of the major challenges to unlock its full potential.”  

FISH4ACP is already looking at ways to reduce the cost of feed by seeking alternative ingredients, such as the black soldier fly, Patrice Talla explained. Important areas of attention include capacity building in aquaculture and training to fill the gap of skilled labour, he said, stressing that incomes, especially among women, would need to rise to make the sector more attractive. Moreover, small-scale farmers need support to access financial services, he added, concluding that solar energy would be key to reduce dependency on non-renewable energy sources, for example in powering cold stores.