A private firm LM Aquaculture is set roll-out a K 6 billion Kwacha fish project in Senga-Bay Salima to boost production of fish for food which is currently on the decline.
The project is expected to break ground between April and June this year.
“The cages will be at a designated site several kilometers off the Salima lake-shore covering a surface area of about 10 hectares. We plan to produce from 1,000 to 4,000 tons within a period of 3 to 4 years. Exports form part of our strategy,” said Nkhwazi
LM Aquaculture Limited Managing Director Davie Nkhwazi said close to K1 billion Kwacha has already injected into the business, starting with a 2-year feasibility study.
“We have done our homework. Our team is comprised of local partners and foreign experts in the field both with extensive experience in fish farming having run successful large fish farms in Africa and beyond.
“Furthermore, we have the support of the Fisheries Department and various other government departments and agencies as the project falls directly in line with government policy on sustainable fisheries” said Nkhwazi.
In the initial years of production, the company is focusing two species – Chambo and Kampango.
Said Nkhwazi: “The cages will be at a designated site several kilometers off the Salima lake-shore covering a surface area of about 10 hectares. We plan to produce from 1,000 to 4,000 tons within a period of 3 to 4 years. Exports form part of our strategy.”
The company, however, worries of some potential stumbling blocks that could affect business, citing the tax regime, especially on the VAT placed on fish feed.
“Fish feed will have to be imported from neighboring countries from the start but we know that the development of fish farming, will automatically lead to the establishment of a feed mill in Malawi as it will be demand-driven,” Nkhwazi explained.
The Registrar of Cooperatives in the Ministry of Trade and Industry Wiskes Nkombezi said they are doing a lot to incentivize the aquaculture industry in Malawi highlighting the tax waivers on fishing equipment announced in the 2019/2020 budget.
“We have had issues where farmers complain about taxes on imported machinery, we have seen in this current budget the VAT has been waived, if you look at the additives for fish feed have also been waive,” said Nkombezi, expressing optimism on gains to be registered by the industry.
During the 2019/2020 Budget Statement presented in Parliament by Minister of Finance and Economic Development Joseph Mwanamvekha on 9th September 2019, government introduced duty-free on equipment to promote aquaculture and curb irresponsible fishing.
In a separate interview, Director of the Fisheries Department Friday Njaya expressed government’s desire to boost aquaculture in the wake of depletion fears.
“Currently the aquaculture industry produces about 8,000 metric tons of fish and we have not yet started exporting because of the high demand on the local market. We have to farm more Chambo and ensure it is exported” observed Njaya.
According to Njaya, fish stocks, especially for the Chambo species, have drastically gone down from 50 metric tons in the 1980s to 5,000 metric tons in 2018.
“Fingerlings are not adequate, the demand for aquaculture is quite high. The project will help us to understand the needs of various stakeholders in the fish production sector including fish producers, fingerlings producers, fish processors, and feed producers,” said Njaya.
Meanwhile, government, with the support of the German’s GIZ Aquaculture Round Table Initiative, launched late last year will continue to spearhead the sector’s growth.