Malawi, China and the United Kingdom have teamed up under the Agricultural Technology Transfer trilateral cooperation project which aims at relieving pressure on Malawi’s water bodies currently reeling from overfishing.
Under the project China is bringing expertise, the United Kingdom through the Department for International Development (DfID) has pumped in 1 million pounds (about K1 billion) while Malawi is the beneficiary.
According to senior lecturer in Aquatic Resources Management at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) Daniel Sikawa despite having huge potential the country’s fisheries sector is failing to grow due to overfishing and high costs for fish feed.
”This project has come at a very good time as it is trying to take away the pressure from most important water bodies in the country including Lake Malawi and Shire River. We have potential to be one of the biggest fish producers but challenges are many. Two that stand out are overfishing and expensive feed for fish,” he said.
Under the project, Sikawa said they want to improve the existing fish diets and come up with new formulas that will be made using locally available crops such as pigeon peas, soya beans and sunflower.
“Currently we are testing the feed produced from local crops at Bunda, Mzuzu Fish Farming Centre, Maldeco in Mangochi, Aquaculture Centre in Domasi and Kasinthula Fish Farming in Chikwawa. These experiments have so far taken two months but confined results will be out in June before we take the experiments to August,” said Sikawa.
Malawi is currently forced to buy fish feeds from China and South Africa because locally there is no trash fish from Lake Malawi. Trash fish is the kind of fish that is not eaten and it is used to make fish meal, a component needed to make food for fish.
Commercial and economic counselor at the Chinese Embassy in Malawi Wang Hudson said they are interested in helping in the aquaculture sector because a lot of people depend on fisheries.
“This project is important and as China it is better to share our expertise because it is important to teach someone to fish than to give him fish,” said Wang.
Director of Programme Development and Learning at the Farmers Union of Malawi Jacob Nyirongo said the project is important, coming at a time Malawi is promoting the Buy Malawi Strategy.
“Coming at a time we are promoting the buy Malawi strategy it is important that we continue finding ways of reducing imports by coming up with products and services that can help the local farmers grow,” said Nyirongo.