The Aquaculture for Local Development Programme (ALCOM) was
established in 1986 and is a regional aquaculture and fisheries programme of the
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Based in Harare,
Zimbabwe, ALCOM covers all the member-countries of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC): Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique,
Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The organization is funded at
present by Sweden, Belgium and FAO.
The aim of ALCOM is to assist member countries to improve the
living standards of rural populations through the practice of aquaculture. In
order to move towards this goal pilot activities are conducted to demonstrate
new technologies, techniques or methodologies. Current activities include the
culture of Chinese carp in Mozambique, small-scale cage culture in Zimbabwe and
investigations relating to the fisheries of small water bodies in Lesotho.
Successes achieved, ideas derived and lessons learnt from projects such as these
will then be applied on a wider scale by member governments.
ALCOM has had . a very successful area of operation in Zambia,
where they work through the extension departments of the agriculture and
fisheries departments. Work began with small-scale farmers in the Eastern
province and although only a few farmers initially adopted the ideas and advice,
fish-farming took off when other farmers saw their success. In that area alone
there are 600 fish farmers and more than 1000 ponds. In 1993 the government of
Zambia asked ALCOM to introduce the techniques adopted in the Eastern province
into the Central and Luapula provinces of Zambia.
In Zimbabwe another important area of operation has been looking
at the management and better use of the fishery resources of small water bodies.
In Zimbabwe alone there are 10,000 dams whose main purpose was for irrigation
and hydropower but nevertheless have enormous fishery potential. Management of
dams is a government responsibility, but one community has been encouraged to
take over the entire managerial responsibility of the dam. They issue and charge
for the fishing licences and the revenue earned is ploughed back into
improvements, fresh stock and the hire of guards to prevent poaching.
ALCOM encourages the close cooperation and liaison between
agriculture and fisheries officers. They train agriculture extension officers to
be able to promote fish-farming techniques as part of integrated farming
practices when talking with, and assisting small-scale farmers. ALCOM also
conducts surveys of fish farmers; providing women with more opportunities in the
field of fisheries and aquaculture; assistance in planning and project
formulation; strengthening of institutions for aquaculture extension; and
ALCOM produces publications and extension pamphlets offering
practical information for farmers. Some of the titles include: How to dig a fish
pond, Feeding the fish and How to take care of your fish pond. ALCOM also has a
quarterly publication entitled ALCOM NEWS.