In the Pebane district (province of Zambezia, Mozambique), synthropic agriculture and fish farming go hand in hand, helping preserve natural resources. Here, in the protected area of the Ilhas Primeiras and Segundas, ICEI is carrying out for the second year the project Eco-Ilhas, financed by the Italian Agency for Development Aid (AICS).
Its objective is to improve the sustainability of agricultural, farming and woodland activities and non-industrial fishing in a coastal environment, in order to grant and increase the future availability of food supplies for the inhabitants of six rural communities.

Since 2015, ICEI and the project partners have introduce fish farming activities, which are totally new in the district, managing the training of the locals and the creation of the pools for the farming of tilapia. “Here, the digging of the pools (which measure up to 500 square meters and are 2 or more meters deep) has to be done by hand with traditional tools like shovels, hoes and buckets, without the help of excavators, in soils that are normally very compact”, says Facundo Quarantini, our project manager in Mozambique.

However, the openness and predisposition of the local community has always been very high. “During the works of digging and the training, 3 families have added to the 20 already involved in the project”, continues Facundo. “Encouraged by what had happened to the beneficiaries of the activity, they spontaneously started digging the lakes, even without the necessary tools and the technical support, which is why we decided to include them in the project”. Already in January 2017 we found that the work’s advancement was around 65%, despite the great difficulty presented by the digging, especially for people who are not young and have problems of malnutrition.

Now, the project has introduced a new method of fish farming that includes the creation around the pools of agroforestal systems inspired to synthropic agriculture, both terrestrial and acquatic, which will allow the production of fruits and vegetables during the whole year, and not just in rainy periods as usual.

“This is made possible by using the water from the pools, which, thanks to the fish’s excreta, is one of the best fertilizers for agriculture”, explains Facundo. “Moreover, the agroforestal production is used to feed the fish, and the trees’ shadows create a natural protection for them in periods of high temperatures (which slow the fish’s growth)”. Finally, the agroforestal systems around the pools block erosion phenomena, increase the soil’s fertility and provide food for fish but also for plants with a high phitotherapic value, which contribute to the prevention of livestock diseases.

Visiting the area of the project, the delegation of the Council of Ministers of Mozambique offered its congratulations, declaring that the pools must be counted among the best fish farming facilities of all Mozambique, and are a model for the rest of the country.

On a trial basis, we installed an agroforestal system beside an almost completed pool belonging to the Pusugu community.