Promoting aquaculture growth in Zambia through Cluster approach: A case study of Luanshya district of the Copperbelt Province  

Hellen Mushili1 , Confred G. Musuka2
1. Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport, P.O. Box 70095, Ndola, Zambia
2. The Copperbelt University, School of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 21692, Kitwe, Zambia
Author    Correspondence author
International Journal of Aquaculture, 2015, Vol. 5, No. 8   doi: 10.5376/ija.2015.05.0008
Received: 16 Mar., 2015    Accepted: 08 May, 2015    Published: 19 May, 2015
© 2015 BioPublisher Publishing Platform
This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Preferred citation for this article:

Mushili and Musuka, 2015, Promoting aquaculture growth in Zambia through Cluster approach: a case study of Luanshya district of the Copperbelt Province, International Journal of Aquaculture, Vol.5, No.8: 1-7 (doi: 10.5376/ija.2015.05.0008)


A study on the promotion of aquaculture growth through cluster approach dubbed “Zambian aqua-farmers project instituted in January 2010”, where FAO was the cooperating partner, was conducted in Luanshya district, through a survey using questionnaires and personal interviews. Purposive sampling was used to come up with the sample size. Data was analysed using Statistical package for social sciences (SPSS 16.0). Results of the study showed that the cluster approach had a positive impact towards the growth of aquaculture in Luanshya district. More than half of the respondents had increased their pond areas to more than 500m2after the cluster approach and hence stocked more fish. Before the cluster approach 43.3% of the fish farmers were able to generate about K300-K600 from one cycle, however, after the cluster approach more than half (70%) of the farmers could generate more than K900 from one cycle. Reasons advanced for such changes were attributed to the applications of the lessons farmers learnt from the cluster programmes. The farmers had among others improved in record keeping, pond construction and pond site selection after the cluster approach. It was therefore, acknowledged that the cluster approach could be used in the promotion of aquaculture growth in Zambia.

Promotion; Aquaculture Growth; Cluster Approach; Luanshya District; Copperbelt Province

A simple definition of a cluster is “the geographical concentration of industries which gainadvantages through co-location” (Bosworth and Broun, 1996). A broader definition is thegeographic concentrations of inter-connected companies and institutions in a particularfield” (Porter, 1998). Many clusters include governmental and other institutions, such asuniversities, standard-setting agencies, think tanks, vocational training providers, and tradeassociations that provide specialized training, education, information, research and technicalsupport (Porter, 1998). One of the contemprary waves focuses attention on the creation of clusters as a way of encouraging economic development. Clusters are seen as driving force for increasing exports, attracting foreign investments and catalysing growth (Pietrbelie and Rebellot, 2003).
Agriculture clusters have been widely studied, and the experiences of market-oriented agricultural products such as cocoa, coffee, horticulture products, milk and tobacco suggest that clusters and relate institutional arrangements can be beneficial for enabling small farmers to access input and output markets and support market integration through mechanisms such as collective, high-volume procurement of inputs and reduction in transaction and marketing costs through joint processing and marketing of product (Stockbridge, 2003).
Small-scale aquaculture producers are facing new opportunities and challenges in today’s markets. Those small-scale producers who are able to access markets often find themselves disadvantaged owing to their weak bargaining position (Kassam et al., 2011). Market liberalization in developing countries over the past three decades has led to state withdrawal from service provision and an end to guaranteed markets (Umesh et al., 2008). This has disproportionately affected small-scale producers, who are less able than larger producers to deal with increased risks related to thin and volatile markets. Most producers have had to produce and market their products without access to reliable or affordable inputs, financial, technical or transport services (Subasinghe et al., 2012). This situation has been exacerbated by the globalization of agricultural trade, which has forced small-scale producers to compete with large commercial producers from all around the world and to meet increasingly stringent quality and safety requirements demanded by buyers and consumers (Subasinghe et al., 2012).
Zambia is a country that has good conditions for fish farming based on soil condition, availability of water and climate (Kaspetsky, 1994). According to FAO (2012), the most common type of aquaculture in Zambia is fish farming which is based on species from the Cichlid family. In addition, Zambia’s rich endowment in form of rivers and swamps provide the foundations for supporting significant economic growth and development (Mudenda, 2006). Aquaculture development programmes have the potential to create new jobs, improve food security among poor households and remove variability in terms of household income flow and increase farm level efficiency and sustainability (Azim et al., 2005).
In the Copperbelt province of Zambia the cluster approach dubbed “Zambian aqua-farmers project was instituted in January 2010”, where FAO was the cooperating partner. The objectives of the Project were to develop viable, sustainable aquaculture as a programme for farmers, thereby contributing to a diversification of livelihoods, to assist in the implementation of the country aquaculture development plan, to pilot clusters of economically and financially viable aqua-business groups, to assist in establishing sustainable and profitable demonstrations of farmer led aquaculture training in clusters was conducted; both farmers and DoF staff were trained in aqua business. Farmers in clusters were monitored and advised on quality control measures put in place (Manda, 2014).
There is currently little documented information on cluster formation by commercially oriented small-scale aquaculture producers and related aquaculture institutional arrangements. However, recent experiences in the field show that promotion of aquaculture clustering of farms and/or farmers, and managing these clusters using appropriate management can be successful tools for improving aquaculture governance and management in the small-scale farming sector, enabling farmers to work together, improve production, develop sufficient economies of scale and knowledge to participate in modern market chains, and reduce vulnerability (Collion and Rondot, 2001).This study was therefore, conducted in Luanshya, to entirely focus on the promotion of aquaculture growth in Zambia through cluster approach. Majority of Luanshya residents had little or no knowledge about fish farming as many were engaged in mining and agriculture activities especially those in urban areas (Chilukusha, 2002).
1 Materials and Methods
1.1 Description of the study site
This study was conducted in Luanshya district and on the members comprising the cluster group, sought to bring together current knowledge on the formation, operation, and impact of aquaculture clusters (Coperate Bronchure, 2008) (Figure 1).

Figure 1 Map of Luanshya District, (Source: Collins Maps ©2013)

Luanshya district is located on the Copperbelt province, covers approximately 100760.87 hectares of land and lies at 1246 metres above sea level. It is situated between latitude 13`8` south of longitude 28`25` east and lies about 337km to the north of Lusaka, capital city of the Republic of Zambia. The district, shares boundaries with Ndola district on the North East, Masaiti district on the south and Kitwe district on the North West (Coperate Bronchure, 2008).
1.2 Data collection
Both primary and secondary data were collected.Primary data was collected in person using structured questionnaires, personal interviews and by observation. Questionnaires were administered to members of the cluster and officers from the Department of Fisheries. Observations were made to supplement data that was collected through questionnaires.
Secondary data was obtained from previous studies, reports and statistical information obtained through extensive research on both published and unpublished literature which included journal, library books and other important material relevant to the study. Secondary data was reviewed and then used to provide background information on the cluster approach to aquaculture development, helped to consolidate any existing data by developing a general picture with regard to its impacts.
1.3 Sampling design
The research was a descriptive survey that involved purposive sampling, because the population was too small for random sampling. Purposive sampling is a non-random technique that does not need underlying theories or a set number of informants. Bernard (2002) stated that the researcher decides what needs to be known and sets out to find people who can and are willing to provide the information by virtue of knowledge or experience. Hence all the 30 members of the cluster group were administered with questionnaires. Some of the parameters considered included: Total number of fish farmers in the cluster group; average pond yields before the cluster approach; average pond yield after the cluster approach; annual farmer household income before the cluster approach and annual farmer household income after the cluster approach.
1.4 Data analysis
The data was coded from verbal responses to numerical codes to facilitate statistical analysis using Statistical package for social sciences (SPSS 16). Each response was given a numerical code to enable data to be standardized and processed using statistical methods. After variables were made, data on each variable was entered then analyzed in form of frequency tables according to Sarantakos (2004). Microsoft Excel was used to come up with graphs and charts.
2 Results
Figure 2, revealed very low participation of women in aquaculture.

Figure 2 Gender of respondents

The majority (70%) of the respondents were above 45 years, followed by the age group 35 to 44 years, represented by 26.7%. The age group 25 to 34 years, showed least (3.3%) participation of the youths in fish farming (Figure 3).
From the results obtained, 76.7% of the respondents were married; while 23.3% were widowed and no one was single or separated (Figure 4).

Figure 3 Age of the respondents

Figure 4 Marital status of respondents

Results showed that all the respondents had some form of education, 26.7% had basic/primary education while those who reached secondary level were 36.7% and the other 36.7% had gone up to tertiary level (Figure 5).

Figure 5 Respondents’ education level

Figure 6 shows the number of fish ponds before and after the cluster approach.
Figure 7 and the type of fish ponds (earthen and concrete) used before and after the Cluster approach.
Figure 8 shows average pond area before and after the cluster approach.
Figure 9 shows fish pond stocking rate, before and after the cluster approach.

Figure 6 Number of fish ponds before and after the cluster approach

Figure 7 Respondents type of fish pond before the cluster approach

Figure 8 Average pond areas before and after the cluster approach

Figure 9 Stocking rate before (Blue) and after (Red) the cluster approach

Results in Figure 10 show that before the cluster approach, 46.7% sourced their fingerlings from DoF, 43.3% from private seed producers and only 10% got from fellow fish farmers. After the cluster approach 53.3% sourced from DoF, 26.7% got from Private seed producers and 20% from fellow fish farmers.

Figure 10 Sources of fingerlings before (Blue) and after (Red) the cluster approach

Figure 11 shows that before the approach 53.3% were growing Oreochromis niloticus, 43.3 % Oreochromis andersonii and only 3.3% Tilapia rendalli. But after the approach 73.3% were growing Oreochromis andersonii and only 20% Oreochromis niloticus, following its withdrawal from small scale culture.

Figure 11 Species stocked before and after the cluster approach

According to Figure 12, before the cluster approach 60% of the members practiced monoculture and 40% practiced polyculture while after the cluster approach, 53% still practiced monoculture and 47 % practiced polyculture.

Figure 12 Type of culture practiced before and after the cluster approach

The level of pond management before the cluster approach showed that 60% of the cluster members used pig manure, 30% poultry manure and 10% were using other types, whose application was done once per week, twice per week and once per month respectively, alongside supplementary feeding. After the cluster approach, 37% were using pig manure and 46% were using poultry manure and 17% percent of the members were using other types (Figure 13).

Figure 13 Type of manure used before and after the cluster approach

Figures 14 shows that before the cluster approach, 43.3% were using waste from millers, 26.7% were using Maize bran as supplementary feed, 3.3% were using Kitchen and only 26.7% were using commercial feed. And the feeding frequencies of twice per day, more than three days per week and once per month. However, after the cluster approach, 53.3% started to use commercial feed, 23.3% were still using waste from the millers, 10% were using Maize bran and 13.3% were using Kitchen waste as supplementary feed. Farmers fed the fish twice per day, some more than three days per week and others fed their fish once per month.

Figure 14 Type of feed used before and after the cluster approach

Before the cluster approach, results show that most of the members (56%) were doing partial harvesting, 27% were did complete harvesting and 17% were involved in both practices. After the cluster Programme the majority (56%) started practicing complete harvesting method, 37% were practicing partial harvesting method and only 7% were practicing both harvesting methods (Figure 15).

Figure 15 Method of harvesting fish before and after the cluster approach

Before the cluster approach 36.7% of the harvested fish was for home consumption, 53.3% was sold for cash sale, and 10% bartered. After the cluster approach, 76.7% was sold for cash sale, 3.3% bartered and 20% was consumed at home (Figure 16).

Figure 16 Mode of fish disposal before and after the cluster approach

Income generated from fish farming before cluster approach indicated that, 3.3% were generating less than ZMK300 from their fish produce, 43.3% were making ZMK300 to ZMK600, 33.3% were making ZMK600 to ZMK900, and 20% of them were making above ZMK900 (Figure 17).
After the cluster approach, 13.3% were making less than ZMK300, 6.7% were making ZMK300 to ZMK600, 10% were making ZMK600 to ZMK900 and 70% were making above ZMK900 (Figure 17).

Figure 17 Income generated from fish farming before and after the cluster approach

3 Discussion
3.1 Background information
Selected background characteristics captured included: sex, age, marital status and educational attainment. Gender played a role in the study as it influenced the way males and females perceived and reacted towards the cluster approach. It also determined their involvement, as well as access to resources in aquaculture. The study revealed that the majority (70%) of the members of the cluster programme were men, with only thirty percent women (Figure 2). This agrees with the observation by Mudenda et al., (2005); Musuka and Musonda (2013), that the males dominate the aquaculture sector as owners of fish farming enterprises and as workers. The main reasons given for low participation of women were: the labour intensiveness of the scheme and incapacity of females to own land of their own. This concurs with observations made by Simataa and Musuka (2013), who stated that the low participation of women in aquaculture were attributed mainly to the labour intensiveness of the venture especially the pond construction phase and that most of the land was traditionally owned by male folks. From the study it was also observed that participation of respondents above 45 years was very high, an indication of serious and consistent people trying to better their lives. Only 3.3% of the respondents were between 25 to 34 years, revealing a low participation of youths in the cluster approach (Figure 3). The study also revealed that all the men involved in the programme were married and wanted to support their families. The study further revealed the involvement of widows who attributed their participation in the cluster group to earn a living that would enable them support their families (Figure 4). All members of the cluster group had some form of education, most of whom had attained tertiary and secondary levels, while the rest of the respondents had only gone up to primary school level (Figure 5).
3.2 Fish farmers status before and after the Cluster approach
Before the cluster approach, 73.3% the farmers had less than 5 fish ponds, but after the cluster approach 53.3% of the farmers had 5 to 10 fish ponds with only 3.3% of farmers having 10 to 15 fish ponds, an indication that they had seen the benefits of increasing the number of ponds (Figure 6). According to Musuka and Musonda (2013), in 2009, the government launched a five years (2010 to 2015) Sixth National Aquaculture Development Plan (SNDP) that was more precise in describing specific priority systems to promote aquaculture with cluster of operators in specific high potential zones. The plan’s immediate outcome was: investments in economically, socially and environmentally sound aqua businesses. These enterprises were in turn expected to contribute to a diversification of livelihoods, improved nutritional status, increased income generating capacity and improved employment opportunities. The major advantages of small-scale aquaculture include the following: Utilization of locally available resources; small scale aquaculture is more efficient in using locally available resources, such as small water bodies, homestead land, family labour and cheap household feed stuff, than large scale operations (Chowdyhurry, 2008). Adoption of simple technologies and scheme; it usually employs simple technology hence easy to manage. Therefore, it is relatively easy to get started with and operated by small rural households with poor knowledge and skill. Therefore initial investments and operational costs involved in it are very low compared with large scale operations.
Results of the study also indicate that most members of the cluster group had same type of ponds before and after the cluster approach (Figure 7). According to the study, the earthen ponds were usually equipped with water inlets and outlets that permitted independent control of water addition, discharge and that it provided a conducive environment for natural food (plankton) production. This enables the small households to start producing with very small investments and also minimizes the potential economic risk of the business (Bueno, 2009).
The study also showed that, before the cluster approach, 46.6% of the members had an average fish pond area of between 350 to 500 m2, while after the cluster approach it was observed that more than 50% of the members had increased their ponds areas to more than 500 m2, with only 20% having fish ponds with area between 150 to 350 m2 (Figure 8). A number of reasons were advanced as to why they increased their pond areas, the major one being that large area of fish ponds enabled them to stock more fish. The study further revealed that after the cluster approach, 76.7% of the members increased the stocking rate to more than 3fish/m2 in comparison with the 56.7% before the cluster approach (Figure 9). This agrees with the findings of Azim, et al., (2005), who stated that aquaculture development programmes have the potential to increase farm level efficiency and sustainability.
Less than half of the fish farmers (46.7%) obtained their fingerlings from the Department of Fisheries (DoF) before the cluster approach; however, the number rose to 53.3% after the cluster approach. The rest of the fish famers sourced their fingerlings from private seed producers and fellow farmers (Figure 10). The study again revealed that most of them (53.3%) stocked Nile tilapia (O. niloticus) before the cluster approach, while the rest stocked O. andersonii and T. rendalli (Figure 11). But afterwards, the majority switched to culturing O. andersonii (Figure 11), an indigenous fish species adopted for fish farming in Zambia (Kefi et al., 2012). Meanwhile, O. andersonii was in the same vein, selected on the basis of it being indigenous as well as its suitability for commercial aquaculture production in ponds because of its superior quality in terms of feeding, breeding habits, attractiveness, growth and hardiness (Musuka and Musonda, 2013). The authors further reported that, the cluster project selected fish farmers who received technical support in form of pond stocking with all-male sex-reversed indigenous Oreochromis andersonii produced by Revendel Tilapia Enterprise hatchery at 5fish/m2 (Musuka and Musonda 2013). It was also observed that the majority started culturing O. andersonii to increase their production, because it was readily available, following a realization that it grew as faster as O. niloticus thatwas withdrawn from small-scale culture (Simaata and Musuka 2013). Peterson (1998) equally indicated that to most farmers fast growth was by far the most important fish characteristic.
Most members of the cluster group practiced monoculture before and after the approach (Figure 12) respectively. And the level of pond management showed that half of the farmers preferred to use pig manure, while the rest were using poultry and other manures. The study further revealed that, the frequency of manuring for most members before the approach was once per week because most of them were providing supplementary feeding. After the cluster approach however, frequency of manure application by most farmers was done once per week, twice per week and once per month respectively, alongside supplementary feeding (Figure 13). Steinberg et al., (2006), reported that the purpose of pond manuring is primarily to provide adequate amounts of essentials nutrients for phytoplankton production. According to a study conducted by Alex, (2002), Manure from chickens, goats, ducks, pigs, cattle and horses are excellent fertilizers for fish ponds. When manure was applied in the water, it promoted growth of planktons, which increases the number of natural food organisms for fish.
The study further revealed that the use of both supplementary feed and manure in ponds was advantageous. After the cluster approach all the members started using supplementary feed compared to before the cluster approach. As a result of the cluster approach most of the members started using commercial feed to maximize their profit (Figure 14). Musuka and Musonda (2013) reported that the fish were fed with: fry booster (1 to 4 weeks), starter crumble (at 4 weeks) and grower (from 3 months up to harvest). Lessons learnt from the project were expected to be replicated countrywide, implying that, the strategy of small-holder farming clusters was likely to impact positively in other parts of the nation. The preferred frequency of feeding for the members before and after the approach was twice per day.
The study also indicated that before the cluster approach most farmers were practicing partial harvest, however, following the cluster approach most farmers adopted complete harvesting, where all the fish was taken out from the pond (Figures15). It was reported that, most fish farmers did not keep performance records due to low education levels, they harvested intermittently for household consumption and sold what was produced to the neighbourhood at the end of the season while keeping some fish ponds as “banks” where they only went to harvest when need arose (Mudenda, 2006; Musuka and Musonda, 2013).
More than half of the fish farmers had improved on selling their fish after the cluster approach as compared to only less than 50% before the cluster approach (Figure16). Makoto (2013) reported that successful changes are possible even for very small scale farmers through the use of clusters, associations and other group based approaches supported by action based research and training/extension. However, many clusters have also failed. A large literature warns that clusters are harmed by attempts to encourage them to scale up too rapidly or to undertake too many or complex activities (Chirwa et al., 2005). They can also be undermined by subsidies, by a failure to focus on core commercial activities offering clear benefits to members, and by donor and government support and interference that treat them more as development agents than as private businesses (String fellow et al., 1997).
The study further revealed that most farmers’ main disposal of fish was through cash sale after the cluster approach. Before the approach they could generate K300 to K600 from fish sales and after the approach, the study revealed that 70% were making above K900/cycle (Figure 17). Overall, the findings of this study also compared well with Kawarazuka and Bene (2010) and Thompson et al. (2002), who indicated that most farmers mainly used fish as a cash crop and not a food crop. Home consumption and others were only marginally represented. Incomes are then used to buy staple foods (Jahan et al., 2010) as well as non-staple foods (Dey et al., 2006), which were both physically observed in this study.
4 Conclusion
From the results obtained, there was overwhelmingly evidence that the cluster approach could be used to promote the growth of aquaculture in Zambia. That was proven by the increases in the annual pond yields and the income generated from the sale of fish, following the adoption of the cluster approach. Most of the members acquired useful information, which led them to own more fish ponds and favour the growth of indigenous Oreochromis andersonii. The study also revealed that the majority of farmers had learnt how to properly stock their ponds, which could help in maximizing their pond yields. In addition the members acquired knowledge on the best way to use manure and supplementary feed and which type of feed and manure was better than the other. It was also noted that after the cluster approach the majority of the farmers had transformed from partial harvesting to embark on complete harvesting, which indicated that they understood and commenced applying the lessons learnt, thus obtained the benefits derived from complete harvesting of fish.
We wish to thank all who supported us during our undertaking of this project for their valuable advice, patience, personal commitment, participation and continuous guidance throughout. We also wish to acknowledge Mr. Chibumba of the Department of Fisheries (DoF) Luanshya District, for all the help rendered during data collection and Mr. E. Manda Provincial Fisheries officer (P.F.O) Copperbelt province for his vast support. Finally, we are strongly indebted to management and staff of the Copperbelt University for financial and moral support throughout the project.
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