Innovation Platform Report Malawi: Piloting Inclusive Business and Entrepreneurial Models for Smallholder Farmers and Poor Value Chain Actors in Zambia and Malawi.
The innovation platform workshop under the project ‘Piloting inclusive business and entrepreneurial models for smallholder fish farmers and poor value chain actors in Zambia and Malawi’ was held on 17th to 18th October, 2021, at the National Aquaculture Centre (NAC), Zomba. All the participants invited attended the workshop: 27 feed and hatchery operators, and 6 District Fisheries Officers (DFOs). The objective of this innovation platform was to bring together the feed and seed operators, and DFOs, to find solutions and mitigation strategies to the challenges and risks operators are facing in their businesses using the Political, Economic, Socio-cultural, Environmental, Legal (PESTEL) framework. The key challenges elicited by feed operators included: exchange rate fluctuations and corresponding feed price fluctuations, high transportation cost of feed, the reliance on foreign feed manufacturers, high cost of feed, lack of political good will to invest in fisheries, and lack of infrastructure for local firms to manufacture quality feed in Malawi. To mitigate the risks of high feed prices and transportation costs, the operators agreed to work as a group to order feed directly from the manufacturers in Zambia instead of purchasing from local distributors. They however suggested that the government needs to invest in infrastructural development and provide incentives for local feed manufactures and or/ international company to set up manufacturing plants in Malawi. The key challenges identified by the seed groups included: recycling of fingerlings by farmers, fish theft, high cost of feed, and drying of ponds due to climate change. Production and sale of sex reversed fingerlings may help reduce recycling of fingerlings by farmers, however the hatchery operators lack knowledge on sex reversal. The project team will be piloting sex reversal with some selected hatchery operators. To mitigate the menace of fish theft, the hatchery operators suggested the need to secure fish ponds and to involve the police and local government in establishing by-laws. All the participants felt the innovation platform was very useful and for future sessions, there is need to engage the police, ministry of agriculture and have exchange visit with operators from Zambia. Future sessions could focus on sex reversal, marketing strategy, feed formulation, business mindset, financial management, credit and financing, group dynamics, manure and feeding regime, among others.