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Youths trained under SME/Informal sector financing become fish farming out-growers
March 18, 2020 at 12:3

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Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TEVET) offer many training opportunities to different people to acquire hands-on and entrepreneurial skills. Skills training empowers citizens with abilities to create wealth and jobs for decent wellbeing and inclusive economic development. Tailor-made training programmes designed to enhance productivity of the youth in different sectors of the economy are financed using proceeds from the Skills Development Fund (SDF) and cooperating partners interested in skills development. The funding in skills training goes for up-skilling and reskilling MSMEs, informal sector players and skilling out-of-school youths.

The informal sector and MSMEs are the most prolific sources of employment, wealth creation and a breeding ground for industries. However, low levels of appropriate hands-on and entrepreneurial skillsets among the informal sector players and MSMEs makes it difficult for Zambia’s vision of a vibrant economy characterised by growth, equity, broad-based wealth and job creation to be achieved. Thus, strategic skills development and financing provided in TEVET are helping in ensuring young people are imparted with appropriate skills to effectively participate in various sectors of the economy. Some of the skills training programmes have been in fishing farming. Some young people were sponsored for training in fish farming at Mansa and Mwense Trades Training Institutes.

The skilled young people in fish farming were integrated into the Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development Project (ZAEDP) to supply fingerings to fish farmers in the area. They are fingering out-growers working with extension officers in fish farming. The aquaculture enterprise development project is implemented by the Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission. The project is funded by the African Development Bank. Fish farming programmes seek to address fish deficit in the country.

Fish contributes to more than 20% of the protein Zambian people's diets. It is vital in the dietary diversity and nutritional security among urban and rural households. The demand for fish in the country is estimated at 185, 000 metric tons annually. More than 32, metric tons is from aquaculture production whilst 37% of the annual fish demand is imported from different countries. Fish catch from lakes and rivers is around 80, 000 metric tons. To meet the high demand for fish in the country, aquaculture is increasingly becoming important strategy to increase fish production and making the fishing sector a large contributor to national economic development.

Many people have not participated in fish farming as they lacked skills and knowledge. Financing fish farming skills training is strategic in developing skilled persons in the fish farming value chain. The training is problem-specific rather than generic. It seeks to address real problems that hindered citizens’ productivity, affected product/service quality, impart them with modern trade and commerce savvy, strategic product marketing, and soft skills required in the industry. The training also focusses on problem solving, designing and design interpretation, rethinking enterprise management and maintenance of their tools and equipment, self-confidence and formation of business networks, costing and pricing.

The TEVET financing in skills training for the young people is meant to impart on them key skills to participation socio-economic development, address skills gaps and mismatches that negatively affect their employability and competitiveness. Training needs assessments were done to make training more meaningful to the wellbeing of the targeted groups. Luapula province was a fish hub and training people in fish farming spoke to their economic activities. They easily related with the training programmes and fitted into the Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) aquaculture enterprise development project. The objective of the project is to advance the aquaculture subsector as a viable and inclusive business opportunity through enhanced production and productivity of fish to improve the livelihoods of beneficiaries in the fish value chain. It benefits more than 3, 000 entrepreneurs along the fish value chain in all the ten provinces including skilled youth in fish farming.

Training the youth in fish farming resonates to this objective. The project is also an example of a holistic economic development approach towards a sustainable increase of fishery products. It is contributing to the improvement of food security, nutrition and livelihoods, optimizing the ecosystem services available, through improvements in aquaculture and post-harvest techniques. The project is aligned to the Seventh National Development Plan and National Agriculture Investment Plan on the development of various knowledge management products to inform the aquaculture sector.

TEVETA is working on ways of improving the implementation of these up-skilling programme by working with associations and groups operation along roadsides, markets and workshops. Leaders in carpentry, metal works, food production, fashion design, construction and other areas are identified to help in information sharing, identifying skills gaps among their members, training options preferred by the target groups, and other logistical aspects that needs to be considered before undertaking the training. Collaborations are being pursued with training institutions located in various parts of the country on designing up-skilling programmes that enhance citizens’ contribution to wealth and job creation and the economy at large. Skills development programmes are designed in line with several national development objectives to ensure the country has adequate skilled human capital for different sectors.