The aquaculture sector has a great potential for substantial increase in fish supply in Malawi where enhanced aquaculture production would improve fish protein intake and contribute to generation of wealth and employment in the country through fish exports; WorldFish research analyst for fish genetics breeding Apatsa Chelewani has said.
He said this in Zomba District in Southern Malawi when the organisation supervised progress of the genetic improvement programme (GIP) for shiranus species it is implementing at the National Aquaculture Center (NAC) at Domasi.
Chelewani said though aquaculture is emerging, poor genetic resources and brood-stock management practices, among other factors, present challenges to fish farmers and the development of the sector.
He cited an example that production of genetically improved farmed fish species through selective breeding of farmed fish in Asia and other parts of the world has improved fish productivity.
“Genetic enhancement is the investment with the highest return taking the whole aquaculture value chain in consideration. Since the strains used in Malawi are not utilized in other countries Malawi has to be self-reliant on genetic material,” said Chelewani.
He said the current GIP is being undertaken to improve the two best Oreochromis Shiranus strains of Nkhotakota and Shire which had a proven record of fast growth as compared to the other tested strains of Lake Malawi in Salima, Lake Chilwa, Lake Malawi in Mangochi and Lake Chiuta in accordance with the 2015 broodstock collection data.
In reaction, one of the established fish farmers in Zomba Osman Mahommed echoed that the program is imperial in fish farming as the farmers are in dire need of improved breeds that may boost incomes.
“Let us remember that fish farming is the hallmark of agribusiness and as a country we shall be accountable to anything that affects fish industry if we fail to invest in it now,” he said.
On his part, WorldFish country scientist Lucious Kanyumba said through the Sustainable Fisheries, Aquaculture Development and Watershed Development project (SFAD) the department of fisheries and WorldFish as well as the Lilongwe University for Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) will continue to strengthen the National Genetic Improvement Program to improve the indigenous fish species.
“The whole essence is that at the end of it all it goes into value chain where if the country has fish that has high growth farmers will be able to sale at good prices that may boost their individual incomes and the economic status of the country,” he said.
The project is being supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB).