Setting Your Aquaculture Business up for Success

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Are you interested in Fish Farming? Then you'd be happy to know that fish farming, also known as aquaculture is one of the most profitable and on-demand businesses in Zambia right now. Most of the fish consumed in Zambia is imported. However, the demand is still not being met. This opens up huge potential for a profitable aquaculture business if set up right.

Setting your aquaculture business up for success requires good planning. While the promotion of aquaculture was prioritized for the small-scale sector through interventionist methods and to boost household fish consumption and food and nutrition security, new approaches today recognize the growing importance of promoting aquaculture as an enterprise. It is believed that pursuing aquaculture as a business would enable farmers to sustainably manage their systems for increased incomes. In this episode of the Ndalama Insights Business Show,

aquaculture Zambia

I’m honored to host Mr. Sahya Maulu, a specialist in fisheries and aquaculture. Mr. Maulu has worked both as a Senior Corporate Consultant on aquaculture and as a top leader for a non-governmental organization based in Zambia. I spoke to him about how to succeed in managing an aquaculture business. You can also listen to the podcast right here.



What is an aquaculture business?

According to Wikipedia,  Aquaculture also known as aquafarming, is the farming of fish, crustaceans, molluscs, aquatic plants, algae, and other organisms. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the harvesting of wild fish.

Mr. Sahya Maulu stated that before you venture into fish farming there is a need to get adequate knowledge of the industry. They’re many fish farmers who are not profitable, this can be attributed to the lack of knowledge of the industry. Some farmers go into this industry blindly and in the end, they get swindled.

What do you know about producing fish? The first step in starting a new aquaculture business is to research the industry. You need a good perspective on the industry, your product’s place within the industry, and your potential competitors. Your research should provide you with enough information to do a preliminary analysis of your potential customers and competitors. This research will also give you a good start on your business and marketing plans. There are many ways to find information to do your preliminary customer and competitor analysis. A good way to find some general information is by consulting professionals from the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries. The department of fisheries has useful information that can get you started on the right path.

Factors to Consider in Establishing a Successful Aquaculture Business


aquaculture Zambia
Fish Farmers in a Pond

1. Land

There is no specific land that is designated for aquaculture. You can start an aquaculture business on any piece of land. The land could be intended for building or any other agricultural activities. When acquiring land for aquaculture, you will need to pay particular attention to the source of water. Though this is important, it should not be too much of a concern because you can use water from boreholes and any other available sources. Your focus as you seek to acquire land for fish farming should not be on finding land with all the requirements to sustain fish farming (water, ponds, etc.)

As long as you have the land, your fish farming project can kick start as they are many ways of sustaining this project, like I mentioned earlier, you can still get a borehole installed for your source of water and have the pond made on a piece of land that you have acquired.

There are two ways you can acquire land for aquaculture. These are: Traditional Land-This is the most common method, and it usually doesn’t require one to have a lot of money to acquire land because it is traditional land. In some cases, this land may be given to a farmer for free as most chiefs would be very happy to give land to an individual that wants to bring forth a developmental project that will benefit the people around. Local Authorities-This refers to institutions like the councils.

2. Water

Water quality and quantity are critical. The water should be void of any chemicals harmful to fish. The amount of water available will limit the size of the fish farm. At a minimum you want enough water to drain and fill a fish production pond at least once a year, as well as the capability of replacing any water lost through leakage or evaporation. For a 20 acre pond averaging 4 feet deep, that loses one foot of water per year you need 100 acre-feet of water per year. To produce 100,000 pounds of trout in a raceway culture system without recirculating the water requires a flow of 500 gallons per minute.

3. Markets

To be successful, fish farmers must be proactive in the marketing of their products. Develop answers to the following questions:
• Who specifically is going to buy my fish?
• Is there a market for fish that I can supply?
• At what price can I sell my fish?
• How do I plan to sell what I produce?

4. Capital

Aquaculture is capital intensive. Financing is generally needed to construct ponds, raceways, wells, buildings, and other specialized fish production equipment. Feed and labor costs are major variable expenditures in the production of catfish and other aquatic species. Aquaculture is a key sector to the Zambian Government. The government has established programs to assist aquaculture farmers in Zambia through the Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC).

Financing Your Aquaculture Business

The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock has set aside US$29 million for the implementation of the Aquaculture Seed Fund under the Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development Project (ZAEDP).  The Aquaculture Seed Fund will be administered by the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) and would benefit more than 3, 000 entrepreneurs along the fish value chain in all the ten provinces of Zambia.  There is normally a call for applications in the media. The Aquaculture Seed Fund Application Form for Business Loans is required to be completed.

They’re also various Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that are involved in offering grants to small-scale fish farmers in Zambia.

Fish Farming Business Plan

They’re specific requirements that are needed in order to be considered for these funds. In most cases, though the general requirement will be a business plan. Your business plan should be able to show that you know what you intend to do and that what is contained in the document is very much applicable and will generate profits.

Knowing the process of aquaculture will give you a high chance of success in your application to CEEC. Focus on the production and profit segments. Your business must be profitable, otherwise, no one will fund your business. Though you may seek professional advice on how to write a business plan, you need to understand that the most important aspect is your own contribution to the business plan. You have the knowledge of what you want your business to achieve. You should understand the process involved in the aquaculture business. Let advisors assist you with the completion of the application form.

If you have no idea how to write a business plan, seek professional advice on how to do so and draft out a good business plan that you will eventually submit for review and hopefully get the funds you need.

Key Insights:

  • Fish farming is one of the most profitable businesses in Zambia at the moment.
  • There is no specific land designated for fish farming.
  • Traditional leaders are the most common source of land for aquaculture.
  • As you seek to find land for aquaculture, don’t focus on finding land that has all the resources available, find the land, and start from there.
  • Seek advice on how to write a good business plan.

                               “No one can fund a business that is obviously going to fail”


Insight Partners Africa— aims to bring you actionable insights from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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