RIU - Research Into Use
Fish Farming Innovation Platform

The question set by the RIU Malawi Fish Farming Innovation Platform was:
How can we increase production of competitively priced fish from aquaculture for domestic market by small, medium and large scale aquaculture producers through intensification and increased aquaculture investments?
The platform seeks to address this challenge by enabling all producers to access improved technologies and market information through their participation in the platform.

The platform members identified lack of improved quality seed as one of the priority constraints that need to be addressed to boost fish production. The platform is working towards increasing availability of quality fingerlings of improved species to farmers and entrepreneurs involved in fish farming. The platform is therefore engaged in multiplication and dissemination of improved fish strain of Oreochromis shiranus through use of upgraded private hatcheries. Oreochromis shiranus was developed by the Malawi NARS research programme. At least 400 fish farmers are expected to benefit directly from this work. The two private firms producing fingerlings are Milala Fish Farm and African Novel Resources. The platform also noted the quality of fingerlings for fish production was compromised due to absence of quality guidelines. Also platform learning events are being delivered on an ongoing basis to share emerging practice.

The Fish Farming Innovation Platform is a key agency delivering the strategy and plans of the Government Presidential Initiative for Aquaculture Development which was launched in 2006.

By December 2009 identified the platform had three hatchery operators. These fingerling producers have been supported with technical advice, seed money for rehabilitation of ponds to expected standards and provided with happa nets for producing fries. The platform is on track to have produced 2000 million fingerlings by February 2010. New guidelines for hatcheries for fingerling production have been produced by leading experts in the field.

Malawi RIU has linked the Fish Farming Innovation Platform with INFOSA (a NEPAD fisheries network on fish trade in the South African Development Community region) to collaborate on improving the trade of farmed fish in Malawi.

To ensure effective stakeholder participation in Fish Farming Innovation Platform, the Innovative Fish Farmers Network (IFFN) was established and supported. The Fish Farming Platform Champion is Daniel Jamu of the World Fish Centre

Work plan
  • Production and dissemination of Malawian improved fish strain of Oreochromis shiranus. Over 5 million fingerlings will be made available to grow out farmers by end of 2010. With the current average of 2 fish ponds per farmer of 400 sq m, it is expected that 1700 fish farmers will benefit from the improved fingerlings of Oreochromis shiranus
  • Developing standards and guidelines for fingerlings producing hatcheries. The standards will ascertain that fingerlings of high quality are produced and hence minimize the use of in-bred and poor quality fingerlings by farmers. Four private hatcheries and National Aquaculture Centre (NAC) will be used. It is envisaged that the development of standards and guidelines will lead to development of a hatchery certification system
  • Developing a market strategy for both fingerlings and table size fish in the following areas:
    • means to generate demand
    • means to share market information.
    • means to promote aquaculture
    • means to identify marketing channels for fingerlings and table-size fish.

RNRSS outputs being tested in Malawi
  • Household hatcheries are a major breakthrough in small-scale fish farming
    Low-cost household hatcheries for carp and tilapia are helping farmers take up small-scale aquaculture. Previously, the supply of good quality fish fingerlings was a major hurdle. Central hatcheries couldn't cater to far-flung customers. Now, with just a little training, rural households can learn to raise good quality fish fingerlings. As well as stocking their own paddies and ponds, farmers have young fish to eat or sell. In Bangladesh and the hilly regions of northern Vietnam, these decentralised household hatcheries have led thousands of rural poor to start small-scale aquaculture in fields, ditches or ponds. The potential for household hatcheries for other species, both freshwater and marine, and for all regions where there are small water bodies, is enormous. (AFGP01)
  • Partnership based innovation helps break bad habits
    An innovation systems concept pioneered in India provides a new conceptual framework for improving the responsiveness of research to the needs of diverse technology users; the integration of research into the wider set of development activities; and the cultivation of practices that facilitate integration. Partnership is increasingly important for improving the use of research in development. Yet long-standing issues (habits, routines and practices) often make partnerships difficult to establish and sustain, keeping innovation from taking place. This conceptual framework is currently shaping a diversity of programmes. Investment in capacity strengthening will enable numerous organisations to apply the approaches effectively. (CPH12)

RIU Malawi innovation platform aims to increase availability of quality fingerlings. March 2010 (5:54)   RIUtv
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