Bream is one of Zambia’s most sought-after fish, and is served in top restaurants and hotels. So a bream fish-farm is likely to be a money-spinner.

That’s exactly what Lubambe Copper Mine has done in a small village outside the town of Chililabombwe, on the Copperbelt. Partnering with a local farming cooperative in Kasapa village, the mine has built a fish-farm in the nearby Kebumba stream. It is stocked with 3 000 bream, representing a market value in excess of K60 000.

The market value of the fish is approximately K60 000

The market value is easy to calculate, as a decent-size bream (the size of one’s palm) fetches anything from K25 to K30 on the open market, and sells for double that in shops and supermarkets.

“It’s a good source of revenue for the farmers, and far exceeds what they’d get by selling maize,” says Joel Bwalya, Lubambe’s CSR Manager.

The fish-farm is a partnership of funding and engineering on the part of the mine, and farming expertise on the part of the farmers.

Lubambe constructed the fish-farm, and seeded it with 3 000 small bream known as fingerlings, because they are barely the size of one’s finger. The fish take about nine months to grow, and subsist on a diet of chicken manure (which the farmers provide from their own chickens) and maize bran, which Lubambe provides. There is no other work involved, so the farmers are free to continue their farming activities while their investment grows – both literally and figuratively.

“The fish-farm has made a big difference in our lives, and represents an important source of revenue for us,” says Langson Pensulo, the headman for Kasapa Village.

The fish-farm is fairly simple. It diverts the flow of the stream into a small area roughly half the size of a basketball court, and about a metre deep. Sandbags on the perimeter dam the water, while an inlet and outlet pipe on either side keep it at the correct level.

According to Bwalya, the project has worked so well that a second fish-farm a short distance downstream is now under construction. This time, the farm will be directly in the stream, which should provide a better flow of water and a richer source of nutrients. In theory, the fish should grow faster.

“We reckon that this time, we will be able to seed the fish-farm with 4 000 fish, and that means a bigger harvest,” says Bwalya. The villagers are clearly excited by the potential of fish-farming and its ability to help them diversify. Bwalya’s hope is that over time, fish-farming of this sort will evolve into a fully fledged business with huge commercial potential for the entire country.