AYUB AZIZI -
An informal survey of nearly 40 fish farmers and suppliers at a government-sponsored conference at the National Agricultural Center (NAC) in Lilongwe, Malawi earlier this year came to one definite conclusion: Solace International’s Mangochi fish farm officially rocks.
This distinction was bestowed upon Mangochi during an April 2011 conference in Lilongwe after the farm was hailed as the highest-producing — as well as the most profitable — fish farm in all of Malawi.
Under the direction of Ayub Azizi, Solace’s Malawi Project Director, the Mangochi farm has been thriving since being converted from an overgrown stretch of dormant farmland on the southern tip of Lake Malawi. The farm produces baby fish — known as “fingerlings” — to area farmers, who then grow the product into marketable adult fish in fattening ponds found all along the Lake Malawi coast.
The farm’s first fattening, sorting and holding tanks were hand-excavated in 2008 at a cost of $25,000. This initial funding also helped renovate the home where Azizi and his family live while running the farm, a home that also welcomes dozens of visitors each year.
The Mangochi farm’s success is even more incredible considering the recent history of the Malawi fishing industry, which during the past decade has seen dozens of failed farms, some of which squandered more than $1 million USD in investment capital in the process. The Mangochi farm, in its second year, has produced and sold enough fingerlings to pay all expenses, salaries and development costs, and to date the farm’s total production has topped 500,000 fingerlings. These fish have been delivered to government and nonprofit distributors, or directly to farmers.
Azizi felt the farm needed to expand. He applied for and received a loan from the Malawi government through the National Agricultural Center (NAC), a loan that has helped purchase better equipment, dig more holding and fattening ponds and focus on producing a better overall strain of fish.
Azizi reported all of Mangochi’s achievements to rowdy applause during the April 2011 conference, and afterward a representative of the NAC noted Azizi had exceeded all expectations by paying the farm’s loan back ahead of schedule. That added news caused Azizi to stand and take yet another bow for his good work.
The efforts of Ayub Azizi and the Mangochi fish farm is what we mean at Solace International when we say “sustainable” development.