Positive Outlook for BCFI Despite Covid-19 Devastating Impacts

By Joyce Mukucha
Despite the fact that the global COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the fisheries and aquaculture sector in various nations with Zimbabwe not being spared, Blue Chip Fisheries International (BCFI) a local company that supply all aquaculture related products and services in Zimbabwe and beyond is working tirelessly to keep sailing through and remaining vibrant in the business.
According to a plethora of studies, fisheries and aquaculture rank among the hardest-hit sectors by the pandemic mainly due to the preventative measures introduced at a national and international level to limit COVID-19 transmission rates, including the temporary closure of retail and foodservice businesses, home confinement and halts to business travel.
In an exclusive interview with BCFI Managing Director, Sokonia Kaitano said the challenges the pandemic created for the fisheries sector, including supply chain disruptions, and to discuss potential future growth opportunities cannot be rubbed off however, his organisation is making concerted effort to keep moving as it is managing to positively bounce back in business.
He explained that though the economy is not stable, BCFI remain focused to play a pivotal role of acquainting farmers to calculate profitability of the business, broadening them to cost reduction measures in aquaculture as well as training them in quality management and husbandry practices.
“As Blue Chip Fisheries International, we are at the centre of service providers helping farmers from all over. Even though the economy is hit hard, with COVID-19 hampering everyone, we have seen that new farmers are coming in with a lot of interest to venture into fish farming, some are going into pond culture and some into cage culture,” said Kaitano.
As part of improving business, BCFI has also ventured into fish pond construction in Hurungwe, Macheke, Norton and Dema.
Using sustainable methods to make pond preparation more suitable for environment-friendly fish farming technique, BCFI is not only aiming to achieve profits but also to support fish farmers’ livelihoods, as well improving food security and nutrition for a population relying heavily on fish for animal protein and essential micronutrients.
“We managed to help setting up a 42 ton pond culture entreprise in Karoi so as Norton, Dema and Macheke with fairly large ponds.
“We have also gone ahead helping the setting up of students demo ponds in some other agricultural colleges, signaling a serious turnaround of other learning institutions towards aquaculture industry in Zimbabwe.
“We are to also witness the setting up of cage culture in Rusape and Marondera as the warm season starts this year, all is the work of BCFI. All this is good for BCFI because we didn’t expect this because of Covid-19.”
This year, Kaitano explained, BCFI also managed to work hand in glove with the Government as it managed to assist the Ministry of Lands , Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement in developing fish projects.
“BCFI managed to work closely with the new department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources within the Ministry of Lands Agriculture Water Fisheries and Rural resettlement.
“We also helped the new department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in the setting up of a 12 ton fish cage at the new Muchekeranwa Dam as a preparation for the official launch of commercial cage culture by the Government of Zimbabwe. This clearly means we have been playing a key role in the development of this aquaculture industry in Zimbabwe, even though the economy is difficult,” Kaitano explained.
He emphasised that it is always important for sustainable businesses like aquaculture to understand how their efforts to achieve profits and to serve a social purpose are both strongly influenced by government policies, and it is always important for sustainable businesses to manage their relationships with government effectively.
“So far we have seen the interest with the Ministry as they knock to the doors of stakeholders, visiting fish farmers in their regions seeking collective action by all industry players to which BCFI stands key as well.
“We also participated in the validation of the aquaculture development draft plan that the department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources had done and positive moves are being witnessed. Of course there is still a long way to go as the industry needs the industry technical experts to be involved and help the ministry to come up with a strategic plan of the industry that is realistic according to the targets put on the aquaculture development plan and BCFI has since started working on it.”
BCFI, he said, has seen the organizing of fish farmers all over Zimbabwe by Zimbabwe Fish Producers Association(ZFPA).
“So far 5 regions have been established ie. Mashonaland Region, Manicaland region, Midlands region, Matebeleland Region and Masvingo. This has raised a lot of interest and encouragement in farmers and new farmers and so joining the farmers groups. We can now safely project how many farmers and of different production models and scale that Zimbabwe now has from different regions.
“Personally am a Council member in the ZFPA Chairing the Development and Outreach programs for fish producers within the nation and we are forcing so much about this.”
A ray of hope is shining on BCFI following that the Ministry is identifying about 1200 dams nationwide that could be used in commercial cage culture.
“A lot of interactions are happening between the Ministry and industry’ stakeholders in order to exchange information and ideas and thus bringing lots of confidence to both players.”
Through its commendable work, Kaitano pointed out that BCFI was also playing a significant role of creating employment for young people who are gaining expertise.
“I’m very excited because we are managing to create employment for the youths even though it’s not permanent. Those casual employment that we are doing when we get jobs either for ponds construction we try to bring the young people and train and educate them.”

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