President Edgar Lungu said US$29 million had been set aside to boost local production under the Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development Project that will benefit more than 3,000 people, including women and youths.

He said this in a national address recently.

The US$29 million set aside is meant to nurture aquaculture and thus reduce fisheries imports while improving nutritional levels.

Faced with an 80,000-tonne deficit in fish production, Zambia imports around 40,000 tonnes of requirements annually at a cost of at least US$2 per kg.

Earlier, Livestock and Fisheries Minister Nkandu Luo had said the country was promoting improved fish feed by extending loans to farmers.

Projections are that local demand for fish will grow in the medium to long-term on the back of population growth and greater preference for animal-based protein.

The government says aquaculture production in Zambia is expected to reach 55,000 tonnes by 2030 at an annual growth rate of 6,76 per cent from 20,000 tonnes in 2014. It is projected that the demand for fish by 2030 could reach 173,900 tonnes.

The World Bank Group says “fisheries and aquaculture directly contribute US$24 billion to the African economy, representing 1,3 per cent of the total African GDP in 2011”. Further, the sector employs more than 12 million people in fishing and processing.