Thursday, December 3, 2020

Agric Ministry promotes fish farming

The Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security introduced a series of consultative forums this past week in Serowe to promote fish farming in Botswana.

The Ministry’s Animal Production Department, through Aquaculture Division, made arrangements to take services to Batswana in Serowe and surrounding areas for a one-week fish farming consultative forum, with the help of Aquaculture officers from Mmadinare National Fish Hatchery covering the whole of Central District.

In an interview District Animal Production Officer- Central Tshwaragano Kopano said: “Central District has potential for fish farming considering availability of water from boreholes, community dams as well as from Water Utilities Corporation. Fish farming can be categorised into backyard, small medium enterprise and commercial scale. It is against this background that adopting appropriate production systems and models, fish farming has potential for success in Central District including areas where there are no major rivers or marshlands.”

“Furthermore, reasons for establishment of fish farming are that farming fish can be done using borehole, dam or Rivers water as long as the water is portable and devoid of impurities. Impurities such as heavy metals should be of acceptable levels in fish culture,” Kopano said.

Fish farming is not something new as it has long been promoted along with capture fisheries through the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.

It was until October 2017 that Aquaculture functions and most Fisheries staff were transferred to Animal Production Department (MoA) with subsequent formation of Aquaculture Division.

“Fish farming is a new industry in Botswana and has attracted a lot of interest across the nation. Though it has high capital investment, other countries in Africa such as Zambia, Malawi and Egypt are far ahead of us after putting in place enabling environment (funding, subsidies, establishment of fish value chain, availability of serviced land) to assist aspiring entrepreneurs to develop the industry making it more competitive, sustainable and adding value the GDP.”

“Ornamental fish farming is another sector where fish are farmed for ornamental purposes. This sector remains untapped but has the potential to contribute immensely in economic diversification especially if the youth and women and other vulnerable groups can be sensitized in this sector. It is worth highlighting to the public on the difference between capture fisheries and Aquaculture. Capture fisheries is the harvesting of fish from the natural water bodies i.e. dams, lakes, Rivers etc. Aquaculture is the raising of aquatic organisms (e.g. plants, fish, crocodiles, etc) using culture structures such as ponds, re-circulating aquaculture systems or cage culture,” Kopano said.

“Botswana imports nearly 3000 tons of fish per annum while the local fish farm production is approximately 100 tons. This suggests that there is a net fish deficit of 2900 tons. Therefore, promotion of fish farming in Botswana will go a long way in fulfilling the objective of food and nutrition security, employment creation and income generation. It will also help to reduce the national food import bill,” Kopano said.

“Researches show that global fish production from capture fisheries is declining while fish production from fish farming is on the increase. It therefore follows that development of fish farming has the potential to impact positively on the economy. To reduce fishing pressure in natural River systems caused by capture fisheries activities leading to fish stock depletion and degradation of aquatic ecosystems,” Kopano said.

Through these consultative forums, Kopano explained that two major fish species namely cat fish and tilapia (bream) are promoted to be cultured in Botswana because of their high consumer preference. Fish species to be cultured is determined by its endemic status to that geographic aquatic environment of the area.

On the issue of attendance Kopano said: “There was no specific number of clients targeted for consultation. People with profound interest are expected to register for participating in the anticipated fish farming consultative forum. These are only aspiring fish farmers. However, those who meet basic requirements of fish farming such as land and water availability, electricity, roads and network coverage, capital investment, skills and available market are at liberty to kick start a fish farming project.”

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