Revamping of aquaculture sector critical for Malawi’s economic development

Government has said revamping the aquaculture sector which contributes 4 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was critical for economic growth.

Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Climate Change, Dr. Yanira Ntupanyama said this in Lilongwe on Wednesday during an Aquaculture Policy Research Dissemination Seminar organized by MwAPATA Institute.

She said aquaculture remains one of the government’s key focus areas saying the country stands to benefit a lot from the sector which has seen some relatively steady growth from 813 to 9,399 metric tonnes increase in fish production between the year 2005 and 2020.

Hlatshwayo: Fish species genetic improvement necessary

“There is still a need to revamp the sector to attract more investors as well as encourage growth for commercial aquaculture farmers in the country to be competitive enough to stand on the regional and global markets,” Ntupanyama added.

The PS mentioned the EUS fish disease as a current stumbling block in the country's fish production saying with constrained resources it is difficult to completely eliminate it.

Research findings by MwAPATA Institute indicate that despite the growth that the country has registered in the sector, there was still a lot that needs to be done to further revamp the sector to be at par with other countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region like Zambia which has tremendously developed its aquaculture sector over the past few years.

The institute’s Executive Director, William Chadza, said the gathering would help in identifying key solutions and strategies for the growth of the sector.

“The research results are actually mixed, it seems like we are making progress in terms of developing the aquaculture sector as a response to the dwindling fish catches from our lake water bodies but we do realize that there are a number of challenges that the fish farmers are facing ranging from poor quality fish fingerlings, lower quality feed and pond sizes which our farmers have which are not making their fish productivity to be effective as expected,” he noted.

Chadza: We are making progress

Chadza said MwAPATA suggests investments in the aquaculture sector in terms of production of high-quality fingerlings and feed apart from improving access to credit for the farmers to have an adequate capital injection into their investments.
SADC Fisheries technical advisor, Dr. Motseki Hlatshwayo said Malawi was doing well in the development of the sector saying efforts made are now starting to pay their dividends.

He said what’s needed for the country is to invest in more scientific work towards genetic improvement of fish species like chambo which he said with the required support from universities, colleges, research institutions, and other relevant stakeholders will help the country make tremendous progress.

The seminar was organized as a side event of the SADC regional dialogue on resilience and adaptation in artisan fisheries and aquaculture in southern Africa.

The seminar was held under the theme ‘Prospects of Aquaculture Development in Malawi.