ZIMBABWE’S fish exports increased by 33% to US$2,3 million during the first half of this year, as volumes changed by 29%, statistics from the Livestock and Meat Advisory Council (Lmac) showed this week.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Lmac said 1 134 metric tonnes (mt) of fish were exported during the period, but farmers have struggled to reach output levels achieved before the country went into a complete lockdown from April to limit contagion from the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.
It said fish exports were dominated by frozen freshwater fish and frozen tilapia that made up 75% and 23% of total shipments respectively.
During the same period last year, frozen freshwater fish represented 51% of exports while frozen tilapia was second at 48%, according to Lmac’s report.
“Although fish exporters have been increasing their export initiatives, fish exports collapsed in April and have yet to recover to their pre-lockdown levels,” Lmac noted.
“Exports for the first quarter averaged 310mt/month and only 68mt/month in the second quarter.”
In June, exports valued at US$113 489 were recorded.
But this represented a decline of 53% over the same month in 2019.
The highest value of exports of
US$1,1 million occurred in April, the report showed.
Imports of fish for the first six months of 2020 were 1 821mt, an increase of 27% over the same period in 2019.
The report said fish imports had declined since November 2018.
During the period under review, fish imports were dominated by frozen Jack and Horse mackerel, both in quantity (76%) and value (49%) at an average price of US$736/mt.
Dried freshwater fish were also imported at US$2 231/mt.
The Zimbabwe Fish Producers Association (ZFPA) believes that fish production will grow significantly, with aquaculture rivalling chicken, pork and beef industries.
With the right policies and strategies, there is enormous potential to develop fish farming in Zimbabwe, using tilapia — Africa’s own indigenous fish, which achieves good growth rates under intensive production.
Zimbabwe has a relatively developed aquaculture and is one of the top 10 fish farming countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to ZFPA, the country’s aquaculture sector can produce 20 000 tonnes of fish a year, creating 10 000 direct jobs and another 10 000 indirectly.
Until 2005, the country used to have some of the region’s finest kapenta fishing infrastructure.
But years of economic decline and divestment from experienced farmers have affected output.
Currently, Zimbabwe is producing approximately 15 000 tonnes of fish per year in a small number of dams.
If all the dams can be fully utilised, the country has the potential to increase fish production to almost 1,5 million tonnes per year, according to experts.
Some of the commercial fish farms in Zimbabwe include Lake Harvest Aquaculture (Kariba), The Bream Farm (Kariba), Mazvikadei Fish Farm near Banket, Clairmont Trout Farm, The Trout Farm and Inn on Ruparara also in Nyanga.