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 information dissemination.
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.
PO Box 3730