Story by Gay Matambo
FISH farming has become a game changer in various communities countrywide, with farmers in Chiredzi East playing a huge part in contributing towards national food security.
Mr and Mrs Dumela are running a three-hectare plot in the Nyahanga area of Chiredzi East constituency where they have two functional ponds with fish that amount to 20 000.
They supply fish to the community and nearby shops, while the project has enabled the couple to diversify into piggery and poultry since fish feed on pig dung and egg droppings.
Mrs Dumela said, “We started this project in 2018 after Cyclone Idai. We started with a small fish pond and after discovering that the fish were growing in numbers, we then built bigger fish ponds.
“We started selling fish in 2019 and to date we are the main supplier of fish in our community. Before that, we were not able to take our children to school but after starting this project, our children are now going to school and our lives have changed for the better.”
Apart from the quick and rich spin-offs that come with the fish farming project, Mr Dumela says the project has the potential to transform livelihoods and contribute towards the economic well-being of communities.
“In dry areas like Chiredzi, such projects are viable because, with a reliable source of water, communities never run out of nutritious food for their families while parents are also able to take their children to school and fend for their families after selling their produce,” he said.
The government under the Smallholder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme (SIRP) set up a fish farming project for irrigation farmers at Fungai Irrigation Scheme in Chiredzi East as part of efforts to enable farmers to play a significant role in the fisheries sector.
“I am a farmer at the Fungai irrigation scheme for the past two years. We grow maize, beans and vegetables. The scheme was not functioning well until SIRP came in and revitalised our scheme.
“Recently SIRP gave us 10 000 fingerlings, nets and enough fish feed to start a fish farming project. We are expecting high returns from this project so that we are able to replicate it at our homesteads and other irrigation schemes in the area,” said Mr Kege Tsamwisi.
Chiredzi District Agritex Officer Mr Tongai Bodi noted, “Under the fisheries programme, we are encouraging farmers in rural areas to embrace fish farming, especially in areas where they have dams, wells and boreholes nearby.
“Under the programme, we are bringing together farmers in groups or individuals linking them with suppliers of fingerlings as well as fish feed as this can be a lucrative business for smallholder farmers.”
Early this year, the government introduced the cage culture in an effort to commercialise fish farming and enhance food production for communities across the country.