It’s been pleasing over the last few years to see our team develop skills in irrigation and greenhouse farming and then roll out these technologies to farmers and see the difference it makes. We’ve always followed the same pattern of research – testing- refining the model – more testing – then rollout to farmers. We need to know that what we are recommending works for the farmers and that we have the skills to back it up with training and support.
And so today we were at the Malawi Government Aquaculture facility in Mzuzu. A few years ago we explored the potential of fish farming for improved nutrition and for income generation but we had to abandon the idea because there were no reliable suppliers of fingerlings or fish food. I’m happy to say that this has changed.
The Aquaculture facility is well managed and a hive of activity. The fish are Tilapia Rendalli a species that I’m told is suitable for “the cold conditions in Mzuzu” (seriously!) I think the salmon in Scottish fish farms must be made of hardier stuff.
By July, there will be fish pellet manufacturing on site and so our farmers can buy fish feed right in Mzuzu. Fish feed has to be extruded so it floats on the water, and the extrusion process is a bit expensive and wasn’t done in Malawi before. This meant fish feed had to be imported at high cost and so the whole business plan didn’t add up. This new development is a game changer.
The second essential is good fish stock and, again, it was great to see that this is now available.
There’s just more ingredient needed and it’s literally a load of crap! The facility keeps its own pigs for the sole purpose of producing dung to fertilise the ponds. This stimulates the growth of algae which provides added nutrients to the diet of the fish.
So, all good so far. We are visiting a couple of fish farms tomorrow and will learn more and then see where that leads. We are particularly interested in the possibility of fish ponds in polytunnels which will allow the fish to mature more quickly with lower feed cost. Atusaye has started digging a pond at our office already……!