It is harvest time in Lejone, a small village nestling in mountains in southern Africa greater than two thousand metres above sea stage.
The yield isn’t grain or fruit, however rainbow trout—the bounty from an undulating river on the foot of the peaks of Lesotho.
Fishermen haul nets bulging with trout onto a floating platform.
The fish are killed and placed on ice, step one on their journey to dinner tables in neighbouring South Africa.
The settlement is house to one among Lesotho’s two skilled fish farms—pioneering ventures within the poor landlocked kingdom.
Stephen Phakisi, 59, launched Katse Fish Farms with two companions in 2005.
At present, he chuckles at how the trio leapt into the enterprise with meagre information about a few of its unknowns, together with the most effective feed for fattening fish rapidly.
“For 5 years, it was completely uneconomical,” Phakisi says.
He recollects how he as soon as discovered a shoal of fish lifeless and belly-up within the water, whereas one other time a full cargo of imported fingerlings died on a 16-hour drive from Cape City.
At present, the corporate is worthwhile, with a yearly output of 800 tonnes of fish, which is bought at about $4 a kilogram.
It provides just a few native eating places, the place the trout is often pan-fried in butter for a couple of minutes and served with a facet dish of kale and potato chips or rice.
However the bulk of its manufacturing lands on the cabinets of high-end supermarkets in neighbouring South Africa, the place a vacuum-packed one-kilo bag can price as much as $50.
‘Heads and bones’
Trout farming in Lesotho has grown on the again of one other of the mountain nation’s most well-known exports: water.
South Africa will get a lot of its water from its neighbour, which has dammed a number of of its waterways over the previous three a long time.
The dams have widened riverbeds, creating inlets and basins that are perfect for trout farming.
Katse Fish Farms lies greater than 2,000 metres (6,500 toes) above sea stage on the Malibamatso River, upstream from the enormous Katse Dam reservoir that provides South Africa’s capital Pretoria and the biggest metropolis, Johannesburg.
Fish farming presently accounts for lower than 0.1 p.c of Lesotho’s $2 billion GDP.
Locals say they’ve at all times eaten salted, sun-dried freshwater fish. And younger boys promote recent catch to passing motorists.
However as dam development continues the nation has the potential “to turn out to be the regional chief in aquaculture,” in keeping with the Lesotho Nationwide Growth Company.
On this nation of simply over two million folks, who rank among the many poorest on this planet, few appear to be benefiting so removed from the water growth.
“We’re promoting water to South Africa however we have now no water to our houses,” says Joshua Sefali, a village chief in Lejone.
Lots of the village’s stone homes with thatched roofs haven’t any mains water or electrical energy.
Giant swathes of land had been flooded after dams went up.
Some folks misplaced their houses and entry to farmland, receiving solely small compensation in return.
Machaka Khalala, 31, mentioned she acquired about $165 when the sector the place she used to develop corn and spinach was submerged.
Now she makes a residing promoting “fats muffins,” a neighborhood doughnut.
However that is typically not sufficient to make ends meet.
A cap on her head, Khalala was amongst dozens of individuals queueing up within the chilly, a bucket in hand, on a mountain roadside.
Right here, Lesotho’s different fish farm arms out leftovers each week—”the heads and backbones,” Khalala mentioned.
Utilizing genetics to assist sustainable aquaculture: Outcomes from 20 years of breeding rainbow trout
© 2022 AFP
Mountainous Lesotho finds gold in trout fish farming (2022, October 18)
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