From Mbekezeli Ncube recently in Chiredzi
FISH farming has turned out to be a fast-growing business in some parts of the country as witnessed by the high number of small-scale farmers who have ventured into the trade, which is now yielding positive financial returns.
When the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) through one of its programme dubbed Enhancing Community Resilience and Sustainability (ECRAS) introduced the scheme in 2017 in Chiredzi and Mwenezi Districts in Masvingo province, a local villager, Clever Dumela was part of the farmers who gained interest in fish farming.
The ECRAS programme which also includes poultry, crop farming, livestock rearing among others is budgeted at US$9.7 million to support willing farmers.
Dumela (47) of Ward 4 in Bandama village in Chiredzi specialises in tilapia fish in two of his ponds measuring 26 by 55 meters as well as 17 by 19 meters respectively. Both ponds are 1.5 meters deep.
He keeps as many as 10 000 fish and sells them at R50 per kilogramme.
Dumela in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com said his fish were selling “like hot cakes” ever since he started the business two years ago and most of his fish clock a 1kg worth of weight each.
“Ever since I started fish farming back in 2019, I have never looked back because I gain a lot in this business. I can group up to about 10 000 fish and when my products are ready for sell I can get not less than R10 000 in profit,” he said.
“I make all this money selling only to local residents and I can imagine if I take this business beyond Chiredzi’s borders, I will be a successful businessman.”
Dumela keeps his fish in his man-made ponds at his homestead and he harvests them after every six months when fully matured.
Besides fish farming, Dumela also grows maize, sweet potatoes, beans, and sugar cane.
Once the water in the dams is no longer fit for the fish, he empties his ponds, and the water is used to water his crops.
Dumela explained to NewZimbabwe.com the water will be fertile from fish waste and he no longer has headaches over purchasing fertilisers.
“Fertiliser is no longer a stress to me because ever since I started my fish project I now use the fish manure to water my plants. I will never stop what ECRAS started for me because it’s now my source of income and I am now able to help other vulnerable people around the surrounding community,” he added.
The ZRBF is a fund supported by the Agriculture Ministry. It is also supported by the European Union, the Embassy of Sweden, the United Nations Development Programme, and the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office.