“My husband whenever he earns money he doesn’t buy anything to support our family instead he spends it on other women and drink beer,” narrates Jessie Mulire a fish farmer who dug a 13 by 5 metres pond on her own in Phalombe district.
She is among 260 fish farmers both individual and communal who are in Phalombe district which has over 138 fish ponds covering a total of 2.2 hectors.
The fish farmer resides in Phunduma Village in the area of sub traditional authority Kaledzera near Thuchira River in Phalombe which is a boundary between the district and the tea growing district of Mulanje.
Mulire who is married to a bricklayer says her husband makes money monthly which is enough to feed their family but she sees no one kwacha as the hubby spends it in the drinking joints.
“When I ask for the money to buy some basic needs for our family my husband all the time tells me he does not have it,” continued Mulire.
The mother of four – three girls and a boy – says her aim is to see her children progressing with their education up to the tertiary level so that they shall never be dependent on other people in the future.
One of her daughters is in Standard Eight and the other one is in Standard Seven and she is hopeful that the former who is waiting for the Primary School Leaving Certificate Education (PLSCE) examination results will make it to the secondary school.
“My daughter was repeating in Standard Eight and I know for sure she will make it to secondary school this time around and I shall be selling these fish and be paying fees for her and buy necessities for her education.
“I want to see my daughter doing well with her education so that she shall be independent and also support me as I am now growing old,” said the 45 year old woman.
The fish farmer said she started growing fish nine months ago and is about to harvest her fish.
Mulire said she was attracted to enter into this kind of farming by her fellow villager, Belita Gusto, who built a house from the same business of growing fish .
Gusto who is aged 42 has been doing the fish farming for about 22 years now and she says she has gained a lot from the business though it is not easy to find market for their harvests in the district.
“From this farming I have managed to construct this iron roofed house and there a lot of things I have done because of this type of farming such as buying basic needs here at home.
“However, we are facing a lot of challenges such as lack of feeds and the main challenge is lack of markets where we can sell our fish which we need help from organisation or government to help us in finding them,” appealed Gusto.
Phalombe District Fisheries officer, Chimwemwe Tembo, said aquaculture is going well in the district though the main challenge is the funds to enable them supervise and train farmers time to time.
“We can say that fish farming is doing great in this district though not to that extent we want, you can see that farmers are still using old methods of feeding the fish.
“Despite all these, farmers lack new skills of how they can take care of the fish, the problem is because our office receives meagre funds which we can use in imparting them,” he said.
On the markets, Tembo admits that it is indeed difficult to find fish markets in the district but he says they have been including the topic of how the farmers can market their fish in the trainings they have been having.
“It’s true the farmers have been worrying about the markets, but on this issue we have been teaching them how they can market their fish,” concluded Tembo.