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 NEW: Fisheries and aquaculture can grow to US$1bn sector: Prof Jiri

The Sunday Mail

Theseus Shambare

FISHERIES and aquaculture play a critical role in food security and have the potential to grow into a US$1 billion sector, thereby significantly contributing to local economic growth.

These remarks were made by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of  Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Professor Obert Jiri while officially opening the two-day Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy review in Harare on Wednesday.

“Fisheries and aquaculture remain key to Zimbabwe’s economy, providing food security, livelihoods and economic opportunities for many communities.

“It is a sector that can grow to a US$1 billion sector, which is an immense contribution towards the achievement of our overall US$10 billion agricultural sector by 2030,” Prof Jiri said.

The policy review seeks to accelerate the alignment of Zimbabwe’s policy to the African Union (AU) and other relevant international frameworks that promote sustainable development and economic growth in the fisheries sector.

The African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) fisheries and aquaculture officer Mr Obinna Anozie urged local authorities to work collectively to ensure that aquaculture and fisheries unlock the potential of the sector through initiating a vibrant and internationally aligned policy.

“Alignment of the Zimbabwean policy to the regional and continental framework is the reason we have gathered here today.

“This is meant to improve coordination and coherence in fish management in Africa. It is critical for Africa to accelerate and maintain this momentum so that the continent realises the benefits of aquaculture,” said Mr Anozie.

The initiative, he said, is aimed at promoting sustainable development and economic growth in the fisheries sector.

Policy development consultant Dr Medicine Masiiwa said Zimbabwe needs to work towards meeting international standards.

“There is need for improvement for current fisheries and aquaculture policies and interventions, policy gaps, particularly in relation to the Policy Framework and Reform Strategy (PFRS) to meet regional and international best practices.

“PFRS for fisheries and aquaculture in Africa for Africa has eight key policy areas that include conservation and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture resource use,” said Dr Masiiwa.

Zimbabwe established the Fisheries and Aquaculture Resources Department (FARD) in 2021 after the Government realised that the sub-sector has potential to immensely contribute to agriculture.

Since then, various initiatives — including fish dam stocking, dam construction and fish cage farming, among others — are underway.

Fish production has grown from around 14 000 tonnes annually to the current 18 000 tonnes, creating more than 50 000 jobs countrywide.