Chief director for Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Services, Obert Jiri

Fish pond programme to boost rural livelihoods

COMMUNITIES and schools are set to benefit from the Fish Pond Stocking Programme which is meant to address food insecurity, unemployment and income generation in rural communities.

Chief director for Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Services, Obert Jiri, told the Daily News that the programme, which has four pillars, seeks to capacitate communities to leverage local water bodies to promote nutrition security and incomes.

He said: “As the summer season starts with rising temperatures, so does the fish production season. We are looking at various programmes based and premised on the availability of fingerlings. “And to make sure fingerlings are available, as a government we have come up with five breeding sites, two of which are now fully operational at Henderson and Zhove dams.

“This is to make sure fingerlings are available for stocking the various programmes that we have.” According to Jiri, the Presidential Fisheries Programme, which is part of the overarching Fish Pond Stocking Programme, would be implemented in earnest this summer season.

“As we start the stocking season, the first programme that we have is the Presidential Fisheries Programme which looks at stocking various water bodies across the country. This is very important because we want to make sure that protein is available as close to our people as possible. It is also a source of income for those that will be organised as communities to harness the value of the fish.

“The second programme that we have is the business thrust, which is basically utilising the water bodies across the country through the Cage Culture Fisheries Programme. It is targeting the youth, the women and all those who want to be involved in the fisheries pro[1]duction value chain.

“This is important because it is a business opportunity utilising the various water bodies in the country. And with cage culture, the value chain can fully be exploited with cold chain facilities up to retail. We therefore encourage financial institutions, consortiums and cooperatives to look at this business opportunity as we utilise the various water bodies,” he said.

In a bid to ensure that the fish programmes benefit many people across the country, Jiri said all villages, irrigation schemes and schools will be part of the novel initiative.

“Firstly it has to do with irrigation schemes, 460 of them all over the country. I am happy to say most of these irrigation schemes have fish ponds. We intend to make more fish ponds on these irrigation schemes. Going forward, all irrigation schemes must have fish ponds as one of their key businesses that beneficiaries of these irrigation schemes can utilise.

“Then we have the village business units which will benefit from 35 000 boreholes being drilled across the country. At each of these boreholes there will be a nutrition garden and each village business unit must have a fish pond. We expect that every village will eventually have a fish pond where the village can harness protein and get value out of the water.

“Another initiative under the Fish Pond Programme is the School Business Units. All the 9 600 schools must have a viable fisheries business unit. The school business unit will emanate from a borehole availing water to be utilised by a fish pond and a nutrition garden. We expect every school to have a fish pond to enable availability of fish and protein at the school.

“The fourth programme is the Youth Business Unit where we bring together the youth in the community to enable them to access a fish pond. They will be taught how to farm fish and how to treat fisheries as a business,” Jiri said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *