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Wild Coast Fish Project Gets A Boost

Education & academia

ZAMBIA - A Wild Coast fish farm has been given a boost by the Zambian government in a project that could benefit two rural communities.

The Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs (DEDEA) has provided funding to the Wild Coast Fishing Co-operative, which seeks to benefit the communities of Ngqeleni and Mqanduli. Plans are under way to establish the fish farm in Ntshilini in Ngqeleni and already the site has been fenced. A tender is out to build two tunnels and a reservoir. Building is expected to start at the end of October.

Project facilitator Mashack Kowa said the fish farm was expected to generate at least 50 permanent jobs for the two communities. He said they had decided to farm tilapia, which "is a species that survives in mild temperatures like the Wild Coast has". Mr Kowa said the co-operative was registered in 1999, but could not get off the ground due to lack of funds. The initial idea was to do deep sea fishing, but Kowa said people involved in tourism opposed the idea amid fears of pollution.

The project was re-started in 2006 after the co-operative received funding from DEDEA.

"We decided to drop the idea of deep sea fishing and pursue aquaculture instead," he said. The project will kick off with 370 tilapia. Mr Kowa said their aim was to produce 146 tons of fish a year.

"That will give us a gross profit of R2.5million," he said. Mr Kowa said if the project went according to plan, they should have produced about 21.1 tons of fish by April next year.

The co-operative received funding from DEDEA through the OR Tambo District Municipality. “After getting their request for funding, we did a feasibility study and found out that the project would be sustainable and that they would quickly generate income to keep the project running,” said project manager Mike Zuma of OR Tambo District Municipality.

Mr Kowa said in the initial stages of the project they would sell the fish whole and already had supermarkets on board. "Our medium-term plan is to do filleting and later canning."