First Hatch Fisheries Limited is investing K150,000 to increase fingerling production from 450,000 tonnes per month to 750,000 tonnes.
The project aims at satisfying the increasing demand from fish farmers.
In an interview recently, company managing director Bright Mutete said there is need to increase fish production to reduce the deficiency levels that stands at 54,000 tonnes of annual fish consumption.
“According to data from the Department of Fisheries, the national fish annual consumption is 80,000 tonnes but last year only 26,000 tonnes was produced. The government policy environment is good and we are responding by increasing fish production.
“Our main breeding center is in Rufunsa with capacity to produce 450,000 fingerlings per month but we are expanding the hatchery at the showground offices to start breeding additional 300,000 fingerlings,” he said.
Mr Mutete said the demand is high because many people are venturing into fish farming.
“Sometimes, we fail to satisfy demand because there are instances when one farmer is able to buy what we have in stock. The outlook is positive since most people are becoming health conscious by preferring white meat [fish] but natural water bodies are depleted yet the fish has to be found,” he said.
He said fish farming can help the economy to grow and feed the sub-region.
“The biggest challenge is that fish feed is expensive and also there has not been consistency from fish feed producers since they concentrate on livestock feed.
“We have partnered with a Dutch company’ Skretting Limited that is dedicated to production of fish feed. But we need more players and people should venture backyard fish farming even with 30 pieces of fish to start with,” Mr Mutete said.
First Hatch Fisheries started operations last year, and apart from breeding fingerlings, the company is also involved in empowering farmers through training on fish production, ponds construction, provision of extension services, among other things.