Farmers in Chinhoyi have applauded the government for the command fishing initiative and training, but warned that the programme was being derailed by overfishing that was eradicating fingerlings (young fish) in smaller dams.
BY TINOTENDA SAMUKANGE
Since the initial launch of the National Command Fisheries Programme at Tokwe Mukosi Dam, 335 dams across the country have been earmarked to increase fish production from an estimated 18 400 tonnes to around 1,5 million tonnes per year.
Speaking to NewsDay, farmers, who requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the programme, said: “There are cases where a family, in a desire to survive, has had to rely on fishing. Many children are encouraged to fish in the preserved dams. This poses a danger to the fingerlings as they are wiped out before their reach maturity.
“This has been a result of patronage from those in custody of the dams. It’s a government initiative but there are some people, who feel the programme belongs to them alone and this has had a negative push-away factor from those who would want to engage in the scheme” he said.
The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) is set to extend its command fishing training in Chinhoyi under government’s socio-economic policy blueprint ZimAsset’s food security and nutrition cluster that has had a positive run since its launch at Tokwe Mukosi Dam last year
This scheme was introduced as complementary to the already running command agriculture with focus on blending the beneficiaries with marginalised groups of society, that is women, youths, orphans, disabled and other disadvantaged groups organised into co-operatives.
ZimParks public relations officer, Tinashe Farawo said the command fishery training programme, already underway in different parts of the country, was to ensure that rural communities are taught of how to manage the fingerlings from a tender age until breeding time.
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“The training has been ongoing since last year and now we are looking at various new methods of increasing fish production such as the cage culture; this encourages individual ponds that will help in ensuring food security,” he said.
The programme has been successful in various areas that have received the same training since the beginning of this national scheme. The country has an estimated 10 600 dams that can be utilised for fish production.
Speaking at the launch of the Midlands command fisheries scheme last year at Insukamini Dam, former Midlands Provincial Affairs minister Jason Machaya said the Environment ministry had already launched the command fishing programme in eight rural provinces.
“The command fishing programme being spearheaded by ZimParks in conjunction with the Environment ministry is set to embark on an extensive fisheries programme which will benefit the youth, women and vulnerable groups in our rural provinces. This programme, aims at consumer fish production and commercial fish production to boost food security and livelihoods of many rural communities in the country,” he said.