BY STAFF WRITER
VILLAGERS in far flung rural Chiredzi, for long situated from modernity by both geography and human conspiracy, are now smiling all the way to the bank – thanks to a fish farming frenzy that has hit the district.
Some of the villagers who spoke to NewsDay yesterday said fish farming projects have positively transformer their lives and are upbeat about the future.
The projects, specially modelled to build self sustainable communities, are supported financially by the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) through its Enhancing Community Resilience and Sustainability (ECRAS) initiative funded to the tune of US$9,7 million.
For 52-year-old Clever Dumela, fish faming has proved to be a money-spinning venture.
Starting the project with just 315 fingerlings a few years ago, he has now grown the project to commercial levels.
“I started the project with just 315 fingerlings and have grown it over the past few years and now I am expecting a harvest of at least 100 000 tilapia fish. I started the project on my own and the ECRAS project came and boosted my business,” he said.
“They helped me to improve water delivery and brought useful technical support which has turned my fortunes around.”
He said he decided to expand the project after last year’s harvest which earned him ZAR10 000.
As part of the expansion drive, he manually dug a larger 26×55 metre weir which holds more water and accommodates more fish.
“We sell the fish at R50/kg and from the last sale, I realised R10 000. It got me to realise there is real money here and I used the money to expand the project. Now I am expecting over 100 000 fish which can give me close to one million rand and that is good money,” the father of seven, who has since become a model fish farmer in the community, said.
“I am assisting other villagers to also establish their projects. They obtain fingerlings from me and I also educate them,” he said.
Not only is he producing fish, Dumela has also established a huge nutrition garden in which he grows a variety of crops ranging from beans, green mealies, fruit trees, vegetables and tomatoes as well as chicken as part of the ECRAS integrated crop, fish and livestock production.
One of the beneficiaries of Dumela’s pioneering fish farming project is Ben Moyo, whose own undertaking is bearing fruit.
“We have been able to sell the fish and sustain ourselves. We have even opened a restaurant at the shopping centre close by where we cook the fish,” he said.
Besides the two families the ECRAS project is also supporting several other fish farmers in villages around Chiredzi district.