Experts are warning that overfishing and pollution of the oceans have depleted natural fish stocks alarmingly in SA.
The result is that in the future, fishing requirements will be met by commercial fish farms. But this is no problem for a Limpopo entrepreneur Marvellous Makhado.
The fish farmer located in Tshaulu in the Vhembe district is already a step ahead of the problem.
“It is something that has always been within me growing up, until recently when I decided to go into it full time,” said Makhado.
In 2017, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2022 as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, creating a unique opportunity to focus world attention on the important role of small-scale artisanal fishers, fish farmers and fish workers in food security, nutrition, poverty eradication and sustainable use of natural resources.
UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which oversaw the programme, noted in its report that “fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants were fundamental, essential and indispensable foods eaten by people around the world as part of healthy diets, cultural heritage and culinary tradition. Small-scale artisanal fishers and fish farmers produce a large portion of this food.
“The International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA) 2022 was an opportunity to highlight the importance of small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture for our food systems, livelihoods, culture and the environment,” the FAO report noted.
Makhado, who grew up in the rolling green hills of rural Vhembe, which inspired his love for mother nature, started his journey into aquaculture in 2018, a year after his retrenchment in 2017.
“We grew up surrounded by orchards where we grew a variety of fruit, which shaped and inspired me,” he said.
Makhado had not gone through any formal training but relied on the experience he garnered while growing up in a community of subsistence farmers.
“I started out with little knowledge and resources, and I had to learn during the process.”
Makhado is still trying to secure land that is large enough to expand his business in order to meet the growing demand. He does not have much resources and requires capital to expand his business.
“I also need a sustainable market to sell my product.”
When asked why he mostly dedicated his time and focus on aquaculture farming and not the other types of farming, he said fish was a big protein source in his area and therefore the market is sustainable market.
“Also, it’s challenging and exciting, which makes it really fun.
“It is literally the first thing I want to do first thing when I get up [in the morning].”
According to statistics by FAO, in 2020, an estimated 58.5-million people were engaged as full-time, part-time, occasional or unspecified workers in fisheries and aquaculture, and of these, approximately 21% were women. By sector, 35% were employed in aquaculture and 65% in capture fisheries.
FAO advises that aquaculture is both a capital and skill intensive, as such, it would be unwise to underinvest and later find that one has insufficient capital, knowledge, and skills to become profitable.
“Fish farmers would need to be on top of this round-the-clock. Small-scale fish farmers, in particular, have a tendency to do everything for their business, from being the driver who delivers fish and collects feed to being the pump technician, fish health expert, human resources specialist, and financial director.”
Makhado advises aspiring farmers who are just starting to keep going.
“It gets hard, but they should never give up. They must also invest in themselves, especially in terms of knowledge related to the type of farming they are doing,” he said. – Mukurukuru Media