Sustainability of Zimbabwe’s Natural Food Sources take a Knock Amid Growing Economic Crisis

The kapenta (Tanganyika sardine) and bream fish sold by Sarudzai Moyo is a major source of income for her and great source of nutrition in the diet for struggling Zimbabwe families. Credit: Ignatius Banda/IPS

The kapenta (Tanganyika sardine) and bream fish sold by Sarudzai
Moyo is a major source of income for her and great source of
nutrition in the diet for struggling Zimbabwe families. Credit:
Ignatius Banda/IPS

By Ignatius Banda
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, Oct 2 2020 (IPS)

Sarudzai Moyo, a former teacher, has begun a new career as a
fishmonger. Once a week she makes the 450km journey from Bulawayo
to Binga, on the shores of Lake Kariba, where she buys between 100
and 150 kilograms of fish for resale as the demand for cheaper
dietary options increase in Zimbabwe.

Fishermen sell a kilogram of fresh bream and kapenta (Tanganyika
sardine) for $1, but back in Bulawayo Moyo sells a kilo for $3.50.
A kilogram of beef sells for between $4 and $7 depending on the
grade.

Business is brisk, Moyo tells IPS, but with more and more people
leaving their formal jobs to pursue other income-generating
ventures in sectors already flooded with unskilled labour,
researchers say this is putting a huge strain on the sustainability
of natural resources such as fisheries.

“People from all over the country can be found buying fish
from Binga fishermen. Some even come with refrigerated trucks,”
Moyo said.
“It is clear there is a huge demand for fish, not just in
Bulawayo but all over the country,” she told IPS.

However, as more nets are cast into Lake Kariba, which lies on
the Zambezi valley — a riparian boundary shared by Zimbabwe and
Zambia — this has raised questions about the long term ecological
effects and how these natural resources will be able to provide a
source of livelihood for communities. Especially since the�Food and
Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) says 90
percent of the country’s fish production comes from Lake Kariba
where Moyo and others are earning their incomes.

The Barilla Centre for
Food and Nutrition (BCFN)
has
noted
that there is a connection “between good nutrition and
the environment,†and the need to “take action on education
programmes and awareness campaigns to make production and
consumption patterns healthy and sustainableâ€. 

In fact, the Food
Sustainability Index (FSI)
, created by BCFN and the Economist
Intelligence Unit, ranks Zimbabwe 70.5 out of 100 — where 100 is
the highest sustainability and greatest progress towards meeting
environmental, societal and economic  for sustainable
agriculture.

But in a country where incomes remain low, environmental and
sustainability considerations have been trounced by the need to
survive.

Tinashe Farawo is a spokesperson of the Zimbabwe Parks and
Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA), a government department
tasked with protecting the country’s wildlife through the
sustainable utilisation of natural resources for the benefit of
present and future generations.
Farawo says while overfishing concerns have been raised in the
past, the continuing entry of new and unregistered players in Lake
Kariba has made it difficult to effectively create a sustainable
ecological balance.

“Ever since the Kariba dam was built in 1958, the regulation
has always been that at any given time there must be at least 500
fishing rigs in order to protect the resource for both current and
future generations,†Farawo told IPS.

But a joint Zimbabwe-Zambia fisheries management committee last
year found that “kapenta rigs operating on Lake Kariba is
approximately 3 times above the optimumâ€.

With population growth on both sides of the Zambezi and the
exponential growth of demand for fish, the number of rigs has
ballooned with fish poachers being blamed for ecological
degradation.

“Concerns of overfishing in Lake Kariba, especially of
kapenta, have been an issue for a number of years now, and the
trend has been growing and will probably continue to grow in the
near future,†said Crispen Phiri, a fisheries scientist at the
University of Zimbabwe’s Lake Kariba Research Station.

“The slowdown in economic performance in both Zambia and
Zimbabwe over the last decade or so has led many people to consider
fishing or the buying and selling of fish as a full time or
fallback livelihood alternative,†he told IPS by email.

ZPWMA officials agree that enforcing restrictions on fishing
activities have proven difficult.

“Everyone and anyone can now cast their net and we need
scientific explanations about the long term effect of this trend on
our fisheries. One of the approaches we have pursued is trying to
stem the excessive reliance on the Zambezi for fisheries by
decentralising and creating other fisheries projects in other dams
across the country,†Farawo told IPS.

Zimbabwe has previously banned issuing of new fishing licences
in the Zambezi, citing concerns about the excessive fishing
activities.

According to ZPWMA, annual fish hauls at the turn of the
millennium stood at around 27,000 tonnes annually but dwindled to
the current 15,000 tonnes.

FAO has commented that
“kapenta was an important, affordable and accessible source of
fish protein and nutrition in a difficult 2007-2008 period when the
macro-economic climate was harshâ€. Today, Zimbabwe finds itself
replaying the hardships of that period, economic commentators say.
So it is no surprise that poor families are once again turning to
fish diets. Indeed, the FSI ranks Zimbabwe as 53.2 on a scale of
100 for nutritional challenges.

Yet researchers say demand is easily outstripping supply,
highlighting an urgent need to act.

The BCFN says while nutrition and dietary needs is a priority,
there is a need to “raise awareness on the systematic connection
between good nutrition and the environment, take action on
education programmes and awareness campaigns to make production and
consumption patterns healthy and sustainableâ€.

This, BCFN says, will ensure the realisation of the U.N.’s
Integrated Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda
“which are all directly or indirectly connected to foodâ€.

Yet researchers have also found the effect of a warming climate
on sources of dietary needs such as fisheries, further compounding
the sustainability of those resources.

“In a recent analysis that I and my colleagues did, we
concluded that the increase in fishing efforts has been a major
factor in the decline of kapenta catches and this has been worsened
by the warming of the climate,†Phiri said.

For fishmongers such as Moyo, and the fishermen who supply her
fish, these challenges could threaten their livelihoods, and the
diets of those poor families who have turned to fish as a cheaper
food source.

The post
Sustainability of Zimbabwe’s Natural Food Sources take a Knock
Amid Growing Economic Crisis
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Sustainability of Zimbabwe’s Natural Food Sources take a
Knock Amid Growing Economic Crisis