I am planning to return to DRC this March for a short visit. My objectives in going there are summarized here:
1. Educate – It was apparent to me that absence of adequate husbandry and breeding practices are leading to meagre harvests. One point for education is selection of high-quality fish for breeding. Common practice when emptying a pond is to harvest all fish large enough to eat, returning small fish to the pond for continued growth. This passes their slow-growth characteristics on to the next generation.
2. Equip – Tools and better-quality fingerlings (young fish) stood out to me during my previous visit as a glaring need of local fish farmers. I intend to inject a modest amount of money into this sector for purchase of inputs to aid new farmers in start-up or existing farmers in expansion.
3. Encourage – Connecting with farmers, asking questions, and answering theirs can accomplish much in maintaining enthusiasm and establishing accountability with the farming network.
I also want to accomplish some deliberate goals in support of fish farming in that region:
· Revisit at least five of the fish pond sites that I visited in 2008.
· Identify at least five fish farmers (from previous visit or otherwise) with potential to expand their ponds or prospective farmers seeking to enter pond farming, and for them:
o Purchase tools (wheelbarrow, shovels, machetes, rakes, axes).
o Offer instruction in breeding selection and other husbandry skills.
· Locate a source of good quality fingerlings.
I'm looking forward to connecting with fish farmers that I met during my previous visit and establishing new relationships with other current or prospective farmers. Aquaculture really can make a difference in promoting sustainable livelihoods in this region.