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Zim operating costs high: Lake Harvest

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ONE of the country’s biggest fish producers, Lake Harvest, says costs of production in Zimbabwe are very high compared to neighbouring countries, which makes it difficult for the company to be competitive.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

The company made the revelation during a ZimTrade-facilitated company visit recently.According to ZimTrade’s latest report, Lake Harvest acting chief executive officer Tariro Chari told delegates led by Foreign Affairs and International Trade minister Sibusiso Moyo that the country’s aquaculture sector had the potential to grow, but was not fully supported.

“Aquaculture has the potential to grow, however, it is also an industry that is often ignored when creating business opportunities,” she said .

Comparing the aquaculture industry in Zimbabwe to that of Zambia, Chari indicated that the costs of doing business in Zimbabwe were too high, which made it difficult for the business to be competitive.

“Although Chari indicated high operational costs as a challenge affecting production, the aquaculture industry can grow and contribute significantly to the growth of exports in Zimbabwe,” the report read.

A case study in Zambia shows that up until 2012, there was no significant aquaculture industry.However, there are currently two industrial scale businesses farming fish on the Zambian side of Lake Kariba.

With the help of the Zambian government, the report noted, both farms were growing phenomenally and have now attracted two of the world’s largest fish feed producers to invest in state-of-the-art feed plants in Siavonga.

The report noted that the aquaculture sector in Zambia was growing as a result of the incentives that have been put in place by relevant authorities, including suspension of duty on aquaculture implements for three years in order to support the industry to be a major producer of tilapia fish and also help enhance food security in Zambia.

A 5% surtax was imposed on imports to promote competitiveness of local producers. Fingerling production centres were set up in every province to encourage the entry of smallholder farmers into this sector.

There are no licence fees for operations on large water bodies like Lake Kariba for aqua farmers as is the case in Zimbabwe. Lake Harvest is currently one of the biggest aquaculture companies in Zimbabwe with expanding operations in Zambia as well.

The company is also among the biggest exporters in Zimbabwe, earning over US$6 million in export revenue each year.Moyo reportedly pledged the government’s commitment to assist the aquaculture industry.

Government seeks to achieve US$14 billion annual export earnings by 2030.

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