About the Village
Muunganirwa Village is located in Ward 14 Muchapondwa, Bindura District. The village is under Chief Musana and the local Village Head (Sabhuku) is Ishmile Muunganirwa. The village has a population of 463 people in 105 households. Muunganirwa Fish and Horticulture Cooperative has 65 members, 27 from Chakona village and 42 members from Muunganirwa, 22 men and 20 women. The cooperative has a total area of about 26 hectares where they practice fishery projects and horticulture, growing cucumbers, peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes, beans among other vegetables. The abundant spring water in the area is used for irrigation of crops and the fish project. In 2006 the cooperative entered the Zimbabwe Plough Conservation Competition coordinated by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA). They became district winners, provincial winners and 5th in the national competitions.

Project Background
Muunganirwa Fish Project was officially launched on the 17th of June 2015 and only include 25 members from Muunganirwa village. In 2012 they approached Aquaculture to assisted them in securing funding for fishery projects. Aquaculture is an non governmental organization in Zimbabwe that fosters sustainable and responsible development of fisheries and aquaculture systems to improve peoples livelihoods and economic development. With assistance from Aquaculture, Muunganirwa Fish Cooperative received a $50,000 grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through their Small Grants Programme (SGP). With the money the cooperative managed to build 20 ponds, 20 wheel barrows, 28 pick heads, 40 shovels, 300 bags of cement and wire. They invested in tree planting, 100 mango trees, 50 avocado, 20 peach and 100 banana trees. They also initial bought 1.5tonnes of fish feed.

The Ponds
The fishery project has 20 ponds, 18 Seepage and 2 Contour ponds. Seepage ponds are built where water naturally occurs, Contour ponds are dug on dry land with cement at the bottom and soil added on the top. Trees are planted around the ponds to preserves the water as shade reduces evaporation. Every pond has an inlet and outlet pipe to control the level of water in the pond. The outlet pipe spill excess water into the surrounding crop fields. Each Pond is 200m2, 1.3m deep and 60 cm at the shallow end. The projects members received training on the project from Aquaculture, the Department of Livestock Production, Agritex, National Parks and The Environmental Management Agency (EMA).

Before adding the fish the ponds are cultured, this is a process of adding tied bags of manure that encourages the build up of plankton that will feed the fish. To each pond they added, 20kgs of cow manure, 10kgs pig manure and 8kg of chicken manure which is the strongest. The fingerlings came from Lake Harvest in Kariba in a plastic bag with oxygen. The young fish are placed in the pond still in their bag and left for 15 to 20 minutes for the fish to adjust to the new water, then the bag is opened. One pond could have as much as 2000 fish, it is advised to have 10 fingerlings per square meter.

To supplement the fishes diet they add pellets, 2kg of aqua-feed spread out 3 times a day. The feed also decides the sex of the fish with males preferred because they grow faster. It takes about 5 months for the fish to mature, the older the fish gets the less it eats. When fish are still young they eat 36% of their body weight and when they are grown only 2%. For now the cooperative has 1 type of fish, a telapia bream called Niloticus. They have 1 pond with another type of bream from the local river, they are experimenting to see if it is a viable option. There is also another pond which is specifically for hatchery.

Quick-Factsfish

The Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) is a species of tilapia, a cichlid fish native to Africa from Egypt south to East and Central Africa, and as far west as Gambia. It lives for up to 9 years. It is the most commonly cultured cichlid. Groups of Nile tilapia establish social hierarchies in which the dominant males have priority for both food and mating. In recent research done in Kenya, this fish has been shown to feed on mosquito larvae, making it a possible tool in the fight against malaria in Africa. Circular nests are built predominantly by males through mouth digging to become future spawning sites. After spawning in a nest made by a male, the young fry or eggs are carried in the mouth of the mother for a period of 12 days. Aquaculture of the Nile tilapia dates back to Ancient Egypt. It is an omnivore, feeding on plankton as well as on higher plants

Harvesting
bioZim_06The cooperative harvests each pond 4 times a year. All 25 members are present on harvest day as well as community members who wish to purchase fish. The fish are caught in nets and weighed, then split for home consumption for the project members (2kg each), and the rest is then sold to the community. A notice is put up at the local shops to alert the community of harvest day. Each pond can provide 100kg worth of fish. Each fish has the potential to reach 425g but they harvest them at about 200/250g. The fish must be sold on the same day because they do not have fridges to store the fish.

Project Benefits
Projects members have more income from the fish sales improving their livelihood. They have a better standard of living because they can make a living from the land. They have more protein in their diet which is available at any point in time. The project gets a lot of visitors from all over Zimbabwe and other countries, increasing their network. Some of these visitors end up being a potential market.

The list of visitors includes; former US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray, the now Minister of Environment, Water, Climate and Natural resources, Honorable Opah Muchinguri, Patrick Zhwao among others.

Major Challenges
Linking the fish and the other farm produce to markets is a big challenge, they do not own any vehicles to get their produce to market (Mbare, Hatcliff, Bindura) and have to reply on waiting on the road side for public transport (kombi’s) to take produce to market. They have no fridges for storing harvested fish and increasing the shelf life, electricity wires are 3km away so there is a need for solar fridges. Otters are a surprise challenge they had not factored. Otters regularly raid our ponds and devastate the fish populations. The solution would be to poison suspected otter holes but it is very hard to identify otter holes and there is a risk of poisoning other harmless species. Another solution would be to fence all the ponds but they cannot afford to do that at the moment.

Due to climate change there less rains which is also coming late. With less rain comes less variety of crops to grow and because they use flood irrigation they are now experiencing water shortages. Wetlands and springs are also drying, village heads are selling land and water is being used inappropriately. The horticulture project includes members from other nearby villages, the funding for the fish project was only allocated to the Muunganirwa village members, 25 of them. So this has caused conflict with the other villagers in the cooperative who feel they should have been included in the fishery project. Only16 hectares of the overall land is fenced, 10 hectares is not fenced and crops here are open to raids from cattle and goats in the areas.

Fish pond

The Future
bioZim_10Muunganirwa cooperative has big plans for the future. They would like value edition training to increase their knowledge and understanding, e.g. market linkages that can help them market their produce. The cooperative hopes to raise more funds to purchase more fences for the entire area. They intend to dam the water in the streams so they can use the water at our own pace. With decreasing water levels they would like to purchase engines and pipes to pump water from the river. They also intend to get involved in bee keeping and mushroom growing, as well as start the canning and drying of tomatoes for selling. They are asking for any assistance for these plans from government or civil society groups.

Conclusion
The Muunganirwa Cooperative is registered officially as an SME. The cooperative was rated by a research conducted by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Agritex, to see how organized cooperatives were. They received an 82-86% knowledge rating and a grade 3 (needing little assistance), with grade 1 being the lowest (starting off) and grade 4 being the highest (no need for support). Among the benefits of having so many high profile visitors they were invited by the government to showcased the projects at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair. This cooperative is a very good example to the rest of Zimbabwe that if landscape and resources in your area is used wisely and sustainably, it can bring income and improve the standard of living.

If anyone wants more information about the fish project or would like to help the cooperative with their future please contact Aquaculture or Mr Muunganirwa on (+263) 0773428243

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