By Calisto Nhamo (32)
Before I adopted agroecology, my farming focused only on growing rain fed maize and gardening. This routine did not give me much in terms of diverse food for my family or income.
However, in October 2022 I attended an agroecology workshop that was organised by Schools and Colleges Permaculture (SCOPE) Zimbabwe, where I learned about the importance of diversity in farming. Before this training with SCOPE Zimbabwe, I had been trained in fish farming but I was not doing it.
When I learned about the importance of diversity, I started to include fish farming in my plans. I have since constructed a fish pond at my homestead and I am finding it to be a very productive activity. My family has now added fish to their diet and I sell excess fish to get income.
My fish pond is constructed on the upper side of the farm. This makes it easy to use the water from the pond to irrigate crops down the slope. Water from the fish pond has good nutrients for crops and fish ponds require regular replacement of water.
The market for fish in my community is good because there are few suppliers. I have observed that many farmers now consider fish farming as a viable project. This has opened opportunities for me to do business because I am the only one in the community who has the skill to construct fish ponds. Constructing fish ponds is a good income because it takes me less than four days to complete construction. I hire young people from the community to help me to dig the fish ponds.
I charge US$150 to construct a fishpond measuring 10m X 10m X 1m. This size of a fish pond requires a 14m X 14m dam liner, 110mm X 6m PVC pipe, 110mm PCV elbow by 90 degrees, 200ml solvent cement, 2 wheelbarrows of river sand, 2 wheelbarrows of concrete, and 1 bag of cement. After filling up the pond with water, I do water colouring using cattle manure or pig manure. After a week a farmer may then put fish in the pond after verifying that there are no leakages
Fish take a period of five to six months to mature from the fingerlings stage. If farmers feed the fish properly each fish should weigh over 500g and is normally sold for between US$3.50 and US$4 per kg. So if the pond has 1000 fish, a farmer must make more than US$1, 500. Fish is always in demand because most of the people in my community like to eat fish and there is little competition.
Fish farming is a very easy project because no workers need to be employed. You can also feed the fish on your own as a farmer. Fish farming can enable other farmers to diversify into other projects like chickens and piggery since fish can also be fed by pig manure and chicken droppings.