Fish farmers in the country have asked government to subsidise fish feeds, as the prices are prohibitive for local farmers in the country.
This came out during a three-day Innovative Fish Farmers Network Trust (IFFNT) strategic plan conference held at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) at the weekend.IFFNT board chairperson Lucky Penumulungu observed that government should give attractive subsidies to uplift businesses of fish farmers.
He said: “Aquaculture is a major economic activity for additional employment and income generation. But most small-scale fish farmers in the country can’t afford to buy feed because it’s too expensive.
“This is why we are lobbying government to subsidise the feed so that it’s affordable to most farmers, but as it is we can’t talk of developing aquaculture. Fish need to be fed three times a day, but as it is a 50kg bag costs about K27 000 and this highly prohibitive.”
Penumulungu also complained that most of the feed available in the country is substandard.
“Apart from the fact that prices of fish feeds are high, the available is not properly formulated floating feed and is produced in the same manner as livestock or poultry feed that when you put it in the water it sinks. Fish, especially chambo, eat feed that is floating on water,” said Penumulungu.
In his remarks deputy vice-chancellor of Luanar, who is also board chairperson of Fish Node Malawi Project, Professor Emmanuel Kaunda said that there is need for government to arrange and conduct trainings for fish farmers.
“Farmers must be taught how to network, but the first point to start off from is to promote entrepreneurship among them. As for the university, our part is to conduct research and help find markets. There’s a lot of money in aquaculture and if farmers get necessary support they can perform wonders.
“Again, if government partnered Luanar to zone the country and identify potential areas, farmers could be making more than the K6 million they currently make in six months,” said Kaunda.
IFFNT was formed through the Aquaculture Development in Malawi (AiDM) Project to contribute to the organisation and empowerment of fish farmers in the country. n