via EU launches lucrative fishing business for women – The Zimbabwean 14 July 2015
A thriving sustainable cage fish farming project is providing women farmers with a rare opportunity to benefit from fishing activities on Lake Kariba.
Lack of funding and cultural beliefs have hindered women from engaging in viable fish farming – but thanks to the European Union’s Integrated and Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Production Project this is now a thing of the past.
The project is targeting fishing villages along the shores of the Lake in Mashonaland West and has also been introduced in Binga, Hwange, Insiza, Beitbridge, Masvingo and Mwenezi.
One of the women who was in the first group to benefit is Shungu Vareta of Gachegache fishing community – located about 100 kilometers south of Kariba. “In the past women were not allowed to harvest fish in the lake because they were considered to be unclean. But because of this project, we are now allowed to place our cages in the lake. We also sew our own fishing nets,” said Vareta. Before the introduction of the project, most women in the area were restricted to the menial fish selling business at bus stops and surrounding areas. In June this year, the group harvested about 7, 4 tonnes of fish. The catch was sold to one of the biggest fish companies in Kariba at a cost of $14 000.
“This project is really a money spinner. We realised such an amount from only 15 cages. We are planning to increase the production cages to 60. Our target is to harvest 10 tonnes of fish every month,” said Norman Moyo, one of the committee members of the cooperative.
The fishing community has been organised into a cooperative and has been assisted in building fish breeding cages that have been placed in the lake. The members of the cooperative have also installed a solar-powered cold room to store the harvested fish.
Before the introduction of the project, the community had been using homemade canoes and nets. This practice however often put them at logger head with officials from the department of wildlife management who accused the villagers of violating the Parks Act.
Most of the cooperative members who spoke to The Zimbabwean described the project as a cross over to the promised land.
“This project has opened our eyes. All along we have been living in poverty yet we have got this wonderful resource on our doorstep. Even if our partners pull out tomorrow, I am confident that we will be able to sustain this venture, and it will enable us to improve our livelihoods as well as send our children not only to school but to better schools as well,” said Mavis Mudenda.
Apart from not being suitable for crop farming, as it lies in low rainfall ecological region five, Gachegache is also home to herds of wildlife that destroy crops.
The Integrated and Sustainable, Fisheries and Aquaculture production Programme, which is funded to the tune of 3 million Euros, aims to improve the food security and dietary diversity of vulnerable households.