Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture Felix Jumbe has hailed the efforts that Chambo Fisheries is making in using technology to produce over 800 tons within a 5 hectare piece of land at its farm in Blantyre, saying that this prevents the depletion of the fish in Malawi’s lakes.
Jumbe made the sentiments in an interview with Malawi24 after he made a visit to the farm last week in which he was briefed by Chief Executive Officer, Muhammed Ismail Aboo on how the technology operates.
The farm which makes the fish ready after 168 days, has now started selling out the fish to leading restaurants in town like Superior Food markets as well as Crazy Foods among others.
But Jumbe who is also a legislator for Salima Central says the precedent set by Chambo Fisheries is a key standing landmark towards upholding the tag Malawi’s fish has had despite the extinction of the Chambo in the lake.
“Malawi has always relied on the lake as a major source of animal protein and with the increase in population, the lake is unable to provide adequate quantities to meet the needs of the population and even the needs to export for us to earn forex from fish as we used to do or as other countries are doing like Namibia,’’ he said.
Jumbe added that the technology that Chambo Fisheries is using “is a solution to the depletion of the fish at our lake in many ways one being looking at replication of such units to many parts of the country which would provide employment to many and also reduce the threat brought by climate change to the crops sector.’’
He said “The technology to breed fish could also be used to replenish the depleted fish stocks at our lake artificially by beginning a program where this technology could be deployed to breed fingerlings in millions and push them back to the lake as a replenishment strategy to ensure the natural waters of the lake continue being relevant to the communities. Stopping fishing is not enough for the lake because despite deploying that strategy we are still under the threat of having no fish from the lake one day.’’
He therefore urged the government to consider tapping the skills Chambo Fisheries is using so that the dormant Domasi Aquaculture Centre now becomes effective.
According to Jumbe, government could also through the Public Private Partnership Policy rope in Chambo Fisheries as the biggest source of fish seeds (fingerlings) to fish farmers in villages, a move which would in the end alleviate poverty among them.
He also called for the need to adopt the skills used at Chambo to artificially replace depleted fish in Lake Malawi.
“The skills of Chambo could also be deployed in undertaking artificial replacement of the depleted fish on lake Malawi because natural methods have failed and we as a country cannot just sit and watch when we have the environment naturally available for breeding fish for the population.’’
Jumbe argued that the technology used at Chambo Fisheries is the way to go as it is “a business approach and self-sustaining in terms of profitability and Malawi can easily resume exports of Chambo to the rest of the world. Technology has the capacity to break all limiting factors.”
In response to the fact that up to 200 Malawians have been employed by the company, the legislator said that the number could increase as well which is a welcome development to the economy.
Subsequently, he called on Chambo Fisheries to consider planting other farms across Malawi so that the economy receives a boost.
“I would say it’s time to expand their operation to Salima Central in particular and structurally begin to have a big picture of the business as a national pride and wish the president of this country would visit the giant that is not yet recognized,” he said.
HOW THE TECHNOLOGY WORKS.
Chambo Fisheries uses the Bio-Floc Water system whose maximum temperatures are 29 degrees Celsius, under a special kind of heating and lighting.
In here, the parents do mate and the eggs are later taken to incubators after three weeks.
The water system is also very powerful as special machineries are meant to filter any kind of dirt from the water.
The incubators separate the eggs until they start turning into small fish for about at least a week.
The other processes, entail letting the fish grow with all day, all night automated feeding system in the tanks whose water is also cleaned automatically.
Chambo Fisheries System Manager, Al Ameen earlier on indicated that the bacteria that gets produced in the tanks that now have fish within the period of 7-8 months is meant to reduce feed cost.
Ameen said that the other water systems in the same tanks produce ammonia which protects the fish’s immunity as well as improve the flavour.
He said: “This is why customers that have bought the fish here say that our fish is quite different from the Chambo at the lake. This is because the ones is the lake is just from pure water but here we have special feed with required amount of nutrients, special heating and an ongoing process.”
Chambo Fisheries which is a subsidiary of the Pacific Group of Companies is a project which ate up to $14 Million (MK 6.9) Billion.
Pacific has a number of subsidiaries which run various projects, which are all benefiting the economy.
QUICKFACTS ABOUT CHAMBO FISHIRIES
- Technology currently producing 800 tonnes in the pilot phases.
- Supporting the economy with up to 200 locals employed in various posts.
- Intending to open a larger farm soon.