Agriculture

‘Costly production hinder fish farmers from repaying CEEC loans’

By OLIVER SAMBOKO

HIGH cost of production and lack of incentives like tax waivers have been blamed  for failure by some fish farmers who benefited from the Aquaculture seed fund to repay their loans, says Small Scale Fish Farmers Association (SFFAZ).

Association chairperson, Victor Chatilika said in an interview that effects of covid 19 outbreak which had a negative bearing on the cost of feed and equipment, has affected the ability of most members to pay back the loans. 

On Friday, the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) disclosed that by December 31, 2021, the commission had recorded a 70 percent recovery rate from the disbursed aquaculture seed fund under the under the Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development Project (ZAEDP).

And Mr Chitilika  said lack of incentives like the ones given to foreign investors has also disadvantaged the local aquaculture farmers as they are unable to import equipment from outside where the price is more affordable.

Mr Chatilika said there is need for government to fully support the small scale fish farmers in order to make them compete more favorably with foreign companies. 

He said government should also ensure that the country improves fish production so that Zambia can start exporting the excess fish to Congo and the regional market where fish is in high demand. 

Mr Chatilika said despite Zambia heavily investing in the aquaculture subsector, the fish deficit in the country has remained at over 80,000 metric tons annually.

He said the cause of this scenario is because fish farmers are not making enough returns on investment and therefore unable to invest more in production.

Mr Chatilika called on government to take keen interest and deal with the cost of production so that farmers can start producing more for the local market.

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