Best Management Practices for tilapia farmers

Implementing partner: Imani Enterprise Ltd
Other partner(s): Agricane, Phata Outgrowers Sugercane Cooperative
Country: Malawi, Chikwawa District
Species: Tilapia
Targeted volume: 5 MT (small-scale farms)
Target: Best Management Practices (BMP’s)
Project duration: 12 months (January 2016 – December 2016)

Project summary

The fish farm component of the PHATA cooperative aims to provide income and nutritional security to the members and surrounding communities within the project area. The farm includes ten ponds on a 1.2 ha site. Using the irrigation system already installed for sugarcane, water is pumped to the ponds from the Shire River. The ponds were professionally designed and engineered to the local context and support optimal environmental conditions for aquaculture with regards to water temperatures and quality. The ponds are stocked at low densities, with mixed-sex Oreochromis shiranus from the tilapia family; known for their ability to withstand significant fluctuations in water conditions. Fingerlings are purchased from an external hatchery and to ensure the ponds remain commercially viable. The fish feed on a combination of algal blooms that are maintained by the application of inorganic fertilizer, and supplementary feedstuffs composed of local and on-farm ingredients, such as rice bran. Moreover, ducks are to be introduced in the pond area to enhance productivity through natural fertilizer.

Previous harvests have proved successful, with production of just under 1 tonne in the first harvests and fish growing from 5g to an average of 150g in 8 months. Production has now been increased and current cycle forecasts predict annual yields of 3 tonnes in future years. Cooperative members have first option to purchase fish, however this is limited to 1kg per household per harvest. Remaining stocks are sold at commercial rates to surrounding communities and wholesale buyers.


“As the aquaculture farm manager at Phata I see the great potential that this farm has, not only as a means of providing a vital, sustainable protein supply to the co-operative members and surrounding communities, but also in the way that it offers workers an opportunity to acquire expertise in an aquaculture system. The aim is that this may have a lasting impact on aquaculture extension in the surrounding communities and Chikwawa District, as more individuals realise the attractive benefits that this method of protein production offers.”

Dave Bargh, Imani Development

“As the managing partner of the PHATA cooperative farm site, Agricane identified the importance of diversifying agricultural production as a mean of securing the project long-term sustainability. The farming of fish offers a reliable form of low-cost animal protein for the cooperative members and an alternative source of income for the cooperative. To date, the ponds have yielded successful harvests and the members of Phata have understood the importance of diversifying production from sugarcane. Members of the cooperative also enjoyed the opportunity to be trained on basic aquaculture production; these trainings helped them engaging with the scheme and will enhance the sustainability of the project.”

Luca Desideri, Agricane 

Contact details:

Iain Gatward, Director at Imani Enterprise Ltd