Overview of the Sector
Aquaculture in Malawi focuses mainly, but nor exclusively on Tilapia. With one exception, this is based on pond culture. With one exception, aquaculture in Malawi is small scale. The exception is a commercial enterprise in Mangochi, MALDECO Fish farm. This one installation is responsible for some 30% of Malawi’s reported annual production.
Aquaculture production in Malawi, 1997–2012 is shown in the graph to the right:
Despite considerable investment and the existence of a strong market demand, aquaculture has not taken off in Malawi in the same way as it has in Nigeria and Ghana. Aquaculture in Malawi is 10% of that of Ghana and 1% of that of Nigeria. There have been some attempts to launch large scale fish farming enterprise. Only one (Maldeco) is still operational. Small scale farming has not expanded in the way it has in Nigeria and the SME sector, as seen in Ghana is virtually non-existent.
Malawi maintains a very conservative approach to introduction of new species and some observers suggest that this lies at the heart of the problem. However, the fact is that while the locally available tilapia strains may not perform as well as those used elsewhere, they perform well enough for an effective farmer to make a gross margin. This was born out through observations.
Nonetheless, National and individual commitment to aquaculture remains strong – sometimes in the face of overwhelming evidence.