This article was originally posted in the Farmer-to-Farmer FY2016 Annual Report
Chilomoni Integrated Fish Farmers (CIFF) was founded in 2004 through the Malawi Government project called Irrigation, Rural Livelihood and Agriculture Development (IRLAD) to produce maize, sugarcane, vegetables, and farmed fish. Since IRLAD ended, the farmers took full control of CIFF and chose to focus on aquaculture due to the high demand for fish in the Blantyre region. Despite the demand, the group lacked knowledge on modern fish farming practices and struggled to afford the expensive fish feed, both challenges hampered production. Therefore, CIFF requested technical assistance through the USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer program.
In June 2015, CNFA fielded Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer consultant Marty Riche, a Ph.D. in aquatic animal nutrition with over 30 years of experience in aquaculture, to provide the group with technical knowledge on fish farming. Dr. Riche trained the group in pond management, production of fingerlings, breeding and reproduction, harvesting and record keeping, and health and stress management. He also trained them on all aspects of feeding: fish nutrition, diet formulation, feed production, and supplemental feeding. As a direct result of Dr. Riche’s assignment, CIFF improved the management of their ponds and increased their fish harvest by 150%, compared with their harvest in early 2015. The graph on the right better illustrates the yield increases in each of the 8 ponds. Furthermore, the average price paid for each fish has increased, which contributed to a doubling of the association’s profit from $2,432 in 2015 to $4,900 in 2016.
After experiencing an increase in their production and sales, the farmers are eager to further scale up the business. Leveraging information from Dr. Riche’s trainings, CIFF farmers have begun raising and selling their own high- quality fingerlings to outside aquaculturalists. The farmers have also continued to strengthen their business management practices, hoping that the next fish harvest is even better than the last. Generally, there is a wave of optimism sweeping through CIFF - finally fish farming has become the business they hoped.