Fish farmers in Mangochi and Zomba have started reaping benefits of one village, one cage (Ovoc), a community transformation initiative run by Maldeco, to boost fish output and provide a ready market.
Maldeco is running Ovoc in its surrounding five villages where Beach Village Committees (BVCs) were allocated a cage on Lake Malawi to grow the fish. The firm is also supporting other farmers who engage in fish farming in fishing ponds in Zomba.
Speaking to journalists in Mangochi and Zomba on Saturday, the fish farmers said Maldeco, a subsidiary of Malawi Stock Exchange-listed Press Corporation plc, has given them technical assistance in aquaculture and assist them to access fingerlings.
In an interview, Michesi Beach Village Committee chairperson Jordan Kanyerere said they raked in K1.7 million during the first phase of the project.
“This is a lot of money to us. Apart from sharing the money as committee members, we also bought school uniforms for needy children from 23 families in our village,” he said.
A fish farmer Norah Miteche, from Songani in Zomba, who has six fish ponds, thanked Maldeco for the support which includes fish growth monitoring, extension services, aquaculture technologies and business management courses.
“As a new fish farmer, I can say that this has been a beneficial relationship because apart from supplying us with fingerlings, feed and a ready market, Maldeco has also been conducting business management courses for us to ensure enterprise sustainability,” she said.
Maldeco general manager Andrew Santhe said the initiative has helped to improve relationships with villagers, especially in Mangochi where the company engages in cage fish farming on Lake Malawi.
“We have seen that issues of security of cage fish have greatly improved because the communities around the company have their own cages on the lake and the company and the community are collaborating in securing the fish,” he said.
Under the initiative, Maldeco, with the support from the Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund matching grant facilitated by United Nations Development Programme supplies fingerlings and coordinates feed supplies to the BVCs.
When the fish is harvested, Maldeco buys it and the cost of the inputs is deducted from the proceeds and the BVCs take the profit as their income.