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A roadmap for the future of tilapia aquaculture in Zimbabwe

Key stakeholders agree on 10-year strategy for inclusive growth of tilapia farming

11 November 2022, Mutare – Stakeholders from across Zimbabwe’s tilapia value chain rallied behind a plan to help the Southern African nation develop its tilapia aquaculture and promote opportunities for women, youth and marginalized groups without adding pressure on the environment.  

“Tilapia farming can be a driver of our countries’ inclusive growth,” said the Honorable J Masuka, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development at an event today celebrating sector-wide commitment to a ten-year plan for the future of Zimbabwe’s tilapia sector. He added: “This agreement will help our tilapia aquaculture take off and can be instrumental to reduce poverty and improve food security.”  

The strategy foresees a nearly three-fold increase of farmed Nile tilapia production from 5 600 to 14 000 tonnes per year in 2032. This increase would be driven by better access to inputs, services and markets for small-scale fish farmers and would raise their yearly benefits from USD 5.6 million now to USD 22 million in ten years time. 

At the same time, the strategy advocates widespread use of best practices so that growth has no negative effects on biodiversity and ecosystems, and will not cause additional pollution. Inclusivity is another key priority. Efforts to increase the participation of women, youth and marginalised groups should ensure that by 2032 they occupy 40 per cent of jobs among small-scale fish farmers.  

The strategy is the result of a sector-wide dialogue on upgrading Zimbabwe’s tilapia value chain spearheaded by FISH4ACP, a global fish value chain development 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).   

According to the EU, the plan sets an ambitious agenda for FISH4ACP, a flagship programme of the EU’s development support for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, demonstrating the EU's support to the people of Zimbabwe and to public policies that lead to the improvement of the living conditions of communities in line with the National Development Strategy (NDS-1).

“FAO is happy to contribute to Zimbabwe’s efforts to expand aquaculture production,” Patrice Talla, FAO’s Sub-regional coordinator for Southern Africa, adding: “FISH4ACP demonstrates how we can fulfil our mandate to transform aquatic food systems into drivers of employment, economic growth, social development and environmental recovery.” 

Patrice Talla explained that production increases can be achieved with better inputs and fingerlings, the adaptation of good practices and support for the cold chain and marketing. He also stressed the importance of harmonising the regulatory framework and compliance to achieve social improvements and environmental protection.   

Patrice Talla reminded that 2022 is the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA 2022), which celebrates the big value created by small-scale fishers. To honour Zimbabwe’s small-scale tilapia fish farmers, a visit was paid to small and medium-scale tilapia farms after which the ceremony was closed with the signing of the Mutare Declaration in which stakeholders confirmed their commitment to the upgrading strategy of Zimbabwe’s Nile tilapia aquaculture value chain.