It has been evident that the introduction of beach seine, nylon gill nets, the use of modern fishing boats and the increased number of fishermen, led to over-fishing which impacts on fish catches in Lake Victoria. Initially, significant surplus catches were made, but soon, as more people invested in the nets, catch rates dropped drastically. The economic returns to fishing have reduced significantly. The emphasis has shifted from traditional, community-based regulatory and management systems to modernization that looking to high-value and value-added fish products for distant markets or bulk catches of species of relatively low economic value to be used as human and animal feeds. This opened unregulated access to resources which resulted in unhealthy competition among actors within the sector. On other hand, it encouraged the use of non-selective and environmentally destructive fishing gear. The negative implications are on the survival of fishing coastal communities both health and economic on income and protein deficient. The lake remains a vital source of food and economic security in the face of rapid change.
For the past two years now, Leadway Company Ltd has been working on fish farming activities and operating cage aquaculture in Tanzania. It is a fish farming company whose establishment stems from the growing demand for sustainable aquaculture in East Africa. The high demand is a result of rapid depletion of Lake Victoria fish stock caused by over-fishing and the use of poisons fishing gears which has impacted on fish catches in Lake Victoria. The depletion has also led to extreme poverty to coastal communities whose lives depends to fishing.
Leadway Company saw the challenges and decided to come up with a solution through establishment of a state of the art Fish farm in Mwanza by adopting modern technology of farming fish in enclosed structures named cages. The farm specialized in producing tilapia fish (The most demanded fresh water fish in east Africa) and seeds from well-kept and managed brood stock and grow-outs cages to serve the East African market.
In solving the challenge of extremely poverty to among the coastal communities, Leadway came up with contract farming program aiming at creating awareness of this lucrative opportunity of boosting Lake Victoria’s production through cage farming as alternative way of reducing pressure of over-fishing in Lake Victoria, creating jobs and hence poverty alleviation. Under this program community members are organized to form Community Based Organizations (CBOs), trained on fish farming practices, Business Development Studies (BDS), guided to form/jion Village Community Banks (VICOBA) as means of promoting Village Saving and Lending Activities (VSLA); trained on fish farming practises particularly cage model. These groups then enter into contract farming with Leadway Company in the are supplied floating cages, tilapia seeds and feeds as well as market through a recently developed online fish selling application named MYFISH TANZANIA (available in playstore or web:http://myfish.co.tz/) under the agreement of selling the fish at mutual beneficial price.
Leadway Co through Contract farming, is currently under a pilot stage the company has achieved to support and manage 125 Fish Out growers in their respective groups by providing incubation services, training on fish Business Development and Management, supplied 67,500 tilapia seeds and a market for approximate 900kgs of fish achieving to earn a revenue of about Tanzania shillings 4,500,000 million (USD 2,000) in a period of one year. The Company’s five years Plan is to create direct and indirect employment opportunities to not less than 4665 fishermen in coastal areas Mwanza region. Its the company long term goal to benefit more than 3 million people living along the coast of Lake Victoria in Lake Zone
While Lake’s wild fish populations may not be able to supply the region with adequate of fish in the future, Leadway believes offering an alternative solution of cage aquaculture via floating cage technology will increase fish supply that meet all needs. The cage aquaculture is the viable and sustainable solution for the shortage and generating employment for many coastal communities, if it is well planned, financed and managed. We at Leadway Co Ltd see cage aquaculture as the key to the future economy of the country.
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