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February 02, 2009

Zambian farmers try aquaculture

After retiring from the Zambia Police Service in 1997, Kester Imata Mumbela thought of investing his retirement funds in cattle rearing and farming. But due to livestock disease that gripped the region several years ago, Mumbela lost all his 159 cattle he had bought to begin his retirement dream.

Left with no hope and source of income amid rising food prices, Mumbela tried another kind of business that is lucrative and requires less input -- fish farming. The desperate but determined ex-serviceman took advantage of two huge ditches left behind by road contractors.

Mumbela says, "I requested help from [local road contractor] Konco. When they extracted the river sand they left a pit which I turn the pit into a fish pond. I requested the Environmental Council of Zambia to make a stream from the Ngwezi River to bring the Zambezi fish into the pond."

The Department of Fisheries helped him purchase fingerlings, which come from red breasted breams (Tilapia Rendalli), green head breams (Orechromis Machrochir) and the three spotted breams (Orechromis Andersonii).

Today, his fish farm is supported by the government-backed Agriculture Support Program that operates through the Department of Fisheries. It's backed by the World Bank's International Development Association, Swedish International Development Agency – SIDA, and United Kingdom's Department for International Development – DFID.

The program has been training rural residents on how to earn income with fish ponds. So far, nearly 5,000 households have been reached. They're taught how to choose suitable fish varieties, and how to care for the fingerlings.

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