Fisheries have long been an important part of the economy and cultural heritage in landlocked Zambia, which has 20% of its land covered by water. In total, about 45% of the water resources in southern Africa are found in Zambia, with the country playing a key role in fish trade in the region.

The country’s total fish production is around 100,000 metric tons, of which around 80,000 metric tons comes from fisheries. The aquaculture sector, which is still in its infancy, contributes the remaining 20 percent.

Fish consumption is low at 5.9 kg/person/year. The major cause of low consumption is lack of production, not that what is being produced is being exported, hence the need for increased efforts to farm fish. Around 577,000 people directly depend on fish resources in Zambia, with 63,472 people working as fishers.

WorldFish in Zambia

WorldFish focuses on testing technologies that improve the productivity of fisheries and aquaculture and strengthen value chains to increase incomes of fish-dependent people in Zambia and throughout sub-Saharan Africa. WorldFish works in the Barotse Floodplain of western Zambia where its research focuses on testing improved fish processing technologies and social innovations to reduce post-harvest losses and improve gender relations throughout the fishery value chain.  In Northern Province, WorldFish collaborates with HarvestPlus and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) to implement a research in development project with development partners Self Help Africa and several line ministries.  WorldFish provides technical support at Misamfu Aquaculture Research Station in Kasama to improve fingerling production and distribution channels, is testing improved fish feeds with rural women, men and youth in Luwingu and Mbala Districts, and developing and testing fish-based food products for rural and urban poor consumers.  Together the research aims to increase aquaculture productivity and enhance nutrition, especially for women and children within the critical 1,000 days of life.

Through our partnership with the Universities of Copper Belt and Cavendish, we are providing scholarships to national students and supporting them to conduct research to understand the magnitude of cross-border trade flows between Zambia and neighbouring states. So far our work has revealed that the bulk of fish being imported in Zambia is re-exported informally. Through Southern African Development Community (SADC) we are assisting the government of Zambia and others in the SADC region, to integrate fish in their national trade strategies, as well as promote cross-border trade on some selected One-Stop-Border-Posts (OSBPs). We recently assisted the Government of Zambia to formulate a project on aquaculture (Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development Project – ZAEDP), that will be funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB). WorldFish will further support the government with implementing the genetic improvement component of the project.

Current Priorities / Initiatives

  • Increasing production/productivity of improved indigenous tilapia (Orechromis macrochir and tanganicae)
  • Increasing fish consumption for improved nutrition
  • Integrating and enhancing the role of fish in domestic and regional trade
  • Reducing post-harvest fish losses

Anticipated Impacts (by 2022)

  • 0.12M producer households adopt improved breeds, aquafeeds, fish health and aquaculture and fisheries management practices
  • 0.09M people, of which at least 50% are women, are assisted to exit poverty through livelihood improvements related to fisheries and aquaculture value chains
  • 0.04M people, of which 50% are women, are without deficiencies of one or more of the following essential micronutrients: iron, zinc, iodine, vitamin A, folate and B12
  • 0.07M more women of reproductive age are consuming an adequate number of food groups
  • 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and 10% increase in water and nutrient use efficiency in 0.05M tonnes of fish per annum
  • 0.26M hectares of ecosystems restored through more productive and equitable management of SSF resources and restoration of degraded aquaculture ponds

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