Some fish farmers in Mangochi and Zomba have hailed The Foods Company Limited (TFCL), a subsidiary of conglomerate Press Corporation plc (PCL) trading as Maldeco, for supporting them through their fish farming and providing them with a ready market for their fish.
Speaking to journalists in Mangochi and Zomba at the weekend, the farmers said Maldeco has been giving them assistance in terms of the technical know-how in aquaculture farming as well as assisting them to access the much needed fingerlings so that they are economically independent.
Maldeco is running a community transformation initiative dubbed ‘One Village, One Cage’ (OVOC) Initiative where in each of its surrounding five villages, Beach Village Committees (BVCs) have been allocated a cage on Lake Malawi where they grow the fish. The company is also supporting other farmers who practice fish farming in fishing ponds in Zomba.
Under the initiative, Maldeco, with the support from the Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund (MICF) matching grant facilitated by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) supplies the high quality scarce fingerlings and coordinates feed supplies to the BVCs and when the fish is harvested, Maldeco procures the fish and the cost of the inputs is deducted from the sale proceeds and the profit is what the BVCs take away as their income.
Michesi Beach Village Committee Chairperson Jordan Kanyerere Junior said they made a total of K1.7 million during their sales from the first phase of the project.
“This is a lot of money to us. Apart from sharing the money as committee members, we also managed to buy school uniforms for needy children from 23 families in our village so that they too should benefit from our relationship with Maldeco,” said Kanyerere.
Siwema Daniel from Makokola BVC also thanked Maldeco for the support that it is giving to the community saying her BVC has been economically empowered by the initiative.
“We are now thinking of increasing our fish stock so that we make more money during the second harvest,” she said.
A fish farmer who practices fish farming at her five fish ponds at Domasi in Zomba, Rennie Kawaga hailed Maldeco for supporting her with the aquaculture know-how and providing her with a ready market for her fish harvests.
“I am happy that Maldeco, apart from supplying us with the fingerlings and the fish feed, is also giving us a ready market for our fish,” said Kawaga.
Another fish farmer Norah Miteche from Songani in Zomba who also practices fish farming in her 6 fish ponds, also hailed Maldeco and Aquaculture Enterprise Malawi (AEM) for the support which includes fish growth monitoring (sampling), extension services, aquaculture technologies and business management courses.
“As a new fish farmer, I can say that this has been a beneficial relationship because apart from supplying us with fingerlings, feed and a ready market, Maldeco has also been conducting business management courses for us farmers which have been an eye opener and essential for enterprise sustainability,” said Miteche.
Maldeco General Manager Andrew Santhe said the initiative has helped to improve relationships with villagers especially in Mangochi where the company engages in cage fish farming on Lake Malawi.
“We have seen that issues of security of the cage fish have greatly improved because the communities around the company have their own cages on the lake and hence the company and the community are collaborating in securing the fish. We are also happy that we are contributing to the economic development and independence of these communities around Maldeco and elsewhere where we are supporting the fish farmers,” said Santhe.
The initiative is within a bigger project where Maldeco is constructing a modern fish processing facility with funding from PCL and additional funding from UNDP which Maldeco won as a matching grant.