The rising cost of food in parts of Sub-Saharan
Africa has left close to 900 million people suffer from severe hunger and
malnutrition. This has led UN agencies such as the World Food Program and the UN
Food and Agriculture Organization to call on developing countries to invest in
fish farming. From Kazungula District on the
Zambia-Botswana Border, VOA English to Africa Service Reporter Sanday Chongo
Kabange interviewed a retired police officer who is tackling the rising cost of
food through aquaculture.
After retiring from the Zambia Police Service
in 1997, Kester Imata Mumbela thought of investing his retirement funds in
cattle rearing and farming. But due to livestock disease that gripped the
region several years ago, Mumbela lost all his 159 cattle he had bought to begin
his retirement dream.
Left with no hope and source of income amid
rising food prices, Mumbela tried another kind of business that is lucrative and
requires less input -- fish farming.
The desperate but determined ex-serviceman
took advantage of two huge ditches left behind by road contractors.
Mumbela says, "I requested help from [local road contractor]
Konco. When they extracted the river
sand (they) left a pit [which] I turn the pit into a fish pond. I requested [ the Environmental Council of Zambia] to make a
fallow (stream) from the Ngwezi River to bring the Zambezi fish into the pond."
The Department of Fisheries helped him
purchase fingerlings, which come from red breasted breams (Tilapia Rendalli),
green head breams (Orechromis Machrochir) and the three spotted breams
Today, his fish farm is supported by the government-backed
Agriculture Support Program that operates through the Department of Fisheries. It's backed by the World Bank's International
Development Association, Swedish International Development Agency – SIDA, and
United Kingdom's Department for International Development – DFID.
The program has been training rural residents
on how to earn income with fish ponds. So
far, nearly 5,000 households have been reached.
They're taught how to choose suitable fish varieties, and how to care
for the fingerlings.
Peter Bunonge is a Fisheries Assistant for
the Livingstone-Kazungula Region. He has been promoting fish farming and
training local communities on how to produce good fish and access markets. He says the Ministry of Agriculture under the Fisheries
Department is providing technical knowledge to any farmers who plan to venture into fish farming.
"We [teach them] how to construct fish
ponds," he says, "what types of fish to be stocked in the fish ponds and where to get
recommended types of fish. These (fish species) basically have been recommended
for fish farming reason being that they grow fast and they are disease
During an international food meeting in
Austria, World Food Program Deputy Director Sheila Sisulu stressed the urgent
need for people in Africa to get involved in any form of food production to
counter soaring food prices.
Sisulu said because of continuing emergencies
due to conflicts, droughts and other extreme climatic conditions, relief
agencies (like the WFP) are struggling to meet people's needs.
"I think everybody is agreed," she said, "that this (food)
crisis is a wake up call, globally but in particular for Africa
to invest in agriculture."
The Department of Fisheries survey indicates
female participation in fish farming is about 29 per cent of the rural
population. It says over 10,000 people are earmarked to benefit from the fish
farming project. A joint report by FAO
and the WFP underscores the key role fish can play in providing cheap food,
nutrition and health security for hundreds of millions of people in the