PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu says importing fish is a serious scandal and should come to an end in Zambia.
President Lungu revealed that government was in the process of acquiring U$S 50 million under the African Development Bank (ADB) to boost industries such as the Aqua Culture Farming.
The Head of State directed Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Given Lubinda to ensure that the trend of importing fish was reversed.
Speaking after touring Palabana Fisheries in Chongwe district yesterday, President Lungu said within three years Zambia should be able to reverse the trend of importing fish and be able to export fish to China.
“…It is criminal to imagine that we are importing fish from China when it is an industry to Zambia,” he said.
President Lungu explained that at the time the Chinese nationals were constructing TAZARA, they picked some fingerings from Zambia and started breeding them and they expanded to a point where they were now exporting to Zambia.
“…What a shame! Where were the Zambians all these years? I think we have so much water in the northern part of Zambia, Luapula and we are going to use that water to ensure that we restock and get to the level were we are supposed to be and begin exporting,” President Lungu said.
Meanwhile, Mr Lubinda said Zambia had a scandalous situation where 20 million hectares of Zambian land was under water all year round and yet it was importing 45, 000 metric tonnes of fish a year.
“…Like you said your excellence this is a scandal and you are right this can be reversed within one and half or two years,” he said.
Mr Lubinda said his ministry was currently developing the aqua culture ponds which would target areas such as the Palabana Fisheries. “We have already identified areas where these aqua culture parks will be. Our intention is to bring fish farmers together to operate as cooperatives because we have to pull resources. When we encourage our farmers to grow individually, the cost is very high but when they pull resources then service provisions and extended service provisions become more economical,” he said. Mr Lubinda said he was glad that the fishers in Zambia had formed themselves into an association called Aqua Culture Development Association of Zambia which was in constant dialogue with the Ministry of Agriculture to look at incentives that were required.
He said one of the major challenges which the ministry had was the fish field milling capacity, adding Zambia had no sufficient fish feed. Mr Lubinda said a lot of milling companies were into stock feed for livestock but not so much for fish. He said within one and a half year, the Ministry of Agriculture should be able to see more production in the fish industry.
“I think that in the third cropping, we should be becoming self-sufficient in fish,” he said.