Imported fish threatens market

Imports of kapenta fish (tilapia) from Mozambique and Tanzania are hurting the local fish market, threatening the viability of local producers and traders, according to fishing co-operatives in Kariba and Binga.

They told The Zimbabwean that they were being forced to compete with cheap and low-quality kapenta imports from Lake Tanganyika and Cahora Bassa in Mozambique. Foreign fish exporters buy the fish from the two countries using weak local currencies and resell in Zimbabwe using the US dollar.

“In Tanzania, a kilo of fish costs about 3,000TZS, which is equivalent to $2. A kilo of the same product here ranges between $3 and $6, depending on where one is buying the product from. Dealers from these countries have flooded the market because of this US dollar component,” said Ali Kilimanjalo, a kapenta dealer from Tanzania.

Kilimanjalo admitted that some of the kapenta imported from his country was of poor quality because of shoddy post-harvest handling and processing methods. “Some of the sun drying methods leave a lot to be desired,” he said. “Some of the kapenta is dried in humid conditions and easily gets infected. Some is dried in an open space and easily get contaminated by birds and rodents. There have also been complaints that some of the fish is full of sand.”

Moses Mudimba, a Binga fish trader, said the government should protect the local kapenta industry from outsiders.

“Putting an end to informal trade in fish products would contribute towards controlling the illegal fisheries from landing undersized and poor quality fish and thus protect the stocks from overfishing,” said Mudimba.

Gladys Ndlovu, who also runs a kapenta fishery, said her business could soon collapse because of foreign competition.

“Government should intervene. Kapenta fishing is very expensive here and that is the reason why our prices appear to be too high. If the national parks can’t reduce the exorbitant fishing permit fees, I think we will be forced to reduce our products,” she said.

Binga has 18 fishing co-operatives, run by ordinary residents.

Post published in: Agriculture
  1. Henry M. McClean
  2. Nurullah

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