While the majority of schools are totally shut down under the COVID-19 imposed lockdown, Mukore High School in Ward 8 of Bikita District, is preparing itself for fish farming under its newly adopted Permanent Agriculture Scheme (Permaculture). This activity is a result of concerted efforts by the school, community beneficiaries of Aquaculture Zimbabwe, and World Food Programme.
By SilentVoice WaTsvetai
Permaculture is an Agricultural model that employs natural agricultural methods, founded on the use of natural manures like humus, cow dung and other natural fertilizers. Its thrust is in developing a traditional diet that relies on foods that are fertilized from natural manures.
Other tenets of permaculture are intercropping and development of naturally prepared seeds of our traditional crops. It also focuses on the growing of small grains and traditional ways of food preparation. There is emphasis of consumption of less fatty, reduced use of artificially prepared food additives and resorting to natural ways of food preservation. Under Permaculture is Aquaculture which includes, amongst other things, fishfarming.
Very few people have been in fish farming in Bikita owing to lack of information and technical knowhow on how to go about fish farming. Aqua Zimbabwe’s introduction of fish farming workshops will be an eye opener to those who have managed to drill their water in Ward 8. Mukore High School will be the epicentre of fish farming in this ward as they have already started digging fish ponds.
Members of the Aquaculture in Zimbabwe, the District Development Coordinator and World Food Programme personnel visited the school recently authenticating the commencement of fish farming at Mukore High School. This was described as a very good innovation by the World Food Programme’s Ms Mangoma. “Instead of the beneficiaries going out to prepare roads as part of their complementary works, it’s more rewarding if they involve themselves in projects that help them to sustain themselves during lean seasons,” she said.
Aqua team pegging site of fish ponds
On the other hand, parents were very happy to have this development in their community and more especially at their school. One such a parent, Oscar Makova expressed his happiness, “This is a welcome development given that it adds on some agricultural activities being carried out at this school. The only way to help our children is to inculcate in them a culture of hard work on such projects like fish farming.”
The District Development Coordinator however felt that, though the project would be a success story, it faces water supply challenges as the school is in Natural Region 5.
Bhandawe Oliver, of Aquaculture expressed optimism as he highlighted that the fish ponds can be used as an overnight storage of water which can be used for watering vegetables.
Ndongwe Timothy, the Deputy Head of Mukore High School, lamented the need for support of such ventures from different stakeholders. “Yes, it’s not easy to practice fish farming in this dry region. However, different stakeholders should be approached to assist in the harnessing of water from Mukore, a perennial river which passes through this area. We may not stand and watch water flowing through this area down to the sea, without a single benefit for the Mukore Community.”
Aqua Zimbabwe has since pencilled a number of workshops to assist members of the community with knowledge on fish farming as an alternative to crop production. Members of the community have requested the organisers to include them in the workshops even if they are not direct beneficiaries to the food hand-out scheme.