LACK of investment in aquaculture has forced Zambia to become a major fish importer, says Aquaculture Development of Zambia (ADAZ) chairman Fisho Mwale.
Mr Mwale said the abundant water resources provided potential for a serious growth of the fish industry in Zambia.
He said Zambia would have been a major producer and exporter of different fish species to regional and international markets if requisite investments had been made in the aquaculture sector.
“Due to this lack of investment Zambia imports more fish than it is able to produce, therefore one can safely assume that the fish deficit is artificial and can be reduced with proper planning and investment in Aquaculture.
“Hitherto the emphasis has been on capture fisheries
which if not properly managed can become a wasting asset. We are now seeing reduced catches due to poor bio diversity practices and inefficient methods of fish catching,” he said.
Mr Mwale said the industry would not develop unless incentives were created for Zambians to invest.
“We are operating in a liberalised environment where globally as signatories to World Trade conventions we have to allow imports which often times are cheaper than our own products,” he said.
He however said ADAZ realised Government’s responsibility to ensure that there was affordable nutritional food, adding that banning some food imports would be imprudent to the development of the local industry.
“We are not advocating for banning imports but simply calling for levelling of the playing field so that we as Zambian fish producers are incentivised to produce cheap good quality fish products that will compete with imports,’’ he said.
He explained that increased local production would
reduce on imports thus using the foreign exchange on other priority development sectors like health and education.
Mr Mwale further explained that increased aquaculture production would also contribute to the gross domestic product (GDP)which now only accounts for 1.4 percent.
“Employment creation and economic diversification are other advantages apart from increasing the capacity utilization of our rivers, lakes, dams, reservoirs and farm land which for the most part is underutilized,” he said.