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Dear Chioma
thank you for your questions - please see responses below :
1. What is the robustness of the supply of fingerlings?
Clarias gariepinus (African catfish) fingerlings are not widely available presently in either Blantyre or  Lilongwe however  we have a very experienced hatchery manager  Abudala Napuru in our team (former Lake Harvest, now Aquaculture Enterprise Malawi  ) who will initially be able to produce the  necessary fingerlings we require for our 15-20 pilot uptakers . Interestingly  catfish female broodstock of 1kg & above  each produce up to 15,000 eggs  - therefore with just the stripping of  2 female  catfish and one male Abudala  will more than  be able to produce enough fingerlings for all 15-20 pilot outgrowers -  each will require  800-1000 fingerlings to stock  one of their  4 X2 X1 concrete tanks. Abudala   will be able to  do this every three months after each  production cycle of the pilot outgrowers.  Within  the project  we intend also to  carefully select at least  two  local fish farmers with promise & appropriate skill sets for Abudala to mentor & train
in fingerling  production so that when the project moves from pilot to roll out stage these new catfish hatchery producers will have  a new business opportunity to supply the increasing numbers of concrete tanks  in the two cities
2 The size of the market for fish? This is not an issue  or problem  as currently  there are few if any traders selling  live catfish  in the urban/ periurban markets of Lilongwe  or Blantyre - so will have an  open market to sell. Primary feedback  you have seen already shows that local women in catering trade see no problem in selling  & also  indicate that they can also arrange for fish to be smoked - there is already well established market for wild  caught smoked catfish.  We don't  foresee  the market  chain as being a   potential bottleneck for this project  - rather the opposite - with considerable unfulfilled demand especially for  live  fresh   catfish in  inner city areas. For uptakers getting  optimum price will be key for their  financial viabilities and  future growth.    
3 No  aeration ? That is the beauty of this fish species - African catfish can withstand very low dissolved oxygen DO levels in the water - in fact  they don't actually  need aeration to survive - However the reason we provide aeration is because higher DO levels   mean catfish will feed more each day - If they feed more  then they will grow  more quickly & bigger in 3 months, thus  the ongrower will make more money
4. Water Temperature  - Again African catfish very resilient to higher water temperatures up to 33  degrees  C . There is  some seasonal  variation in temps  in  Lilongwe & Blantyre & its  likely to have more  of  an effect on the catfish with lower  water temps from  July to September
5 How does the business plan stack up - would it be possible for a person to set up this business without subsidy through existing credit organisations - would this be an attractive option for people?  Yes it may be possible for  certain persons living in Blantyre /Lilongwe to set up   one of these concrete tank systems - however  they  would be few & individuals who already had access to loans and were trusted  by credit  providers. However for most  and  especially those lower income persons ( and also men) living in urban areas  they would just not have any chance  of getting  even a small loan for  this type of business start up .  I think also even very entrepreneurial lower income persons  who  could borrow the necessary funds to start this up would be very wary if  they didn't have any  support & provision of  technical information, advice & regular mentoring  visits   from experts who knew how to make these systems profitable - That is  why in  this project we will  include one Nigerian private sector partner to provide this  hands on technical knowhow,  therefore south south  cooperation & knowledge exchange within this project. Thus the decision making process to go ahead will not just be affected by  provision of competitive loans  at lower interest rates - it  will  also be very much  be reliant on the project providing hands on regular  technical advice and monitoring - from people who  have already built & run these systems before for profit
7. What has the failure rate of farms set up in Nigeria been ? What were the causes of failure (eg disease, theft, other ?). Nigeria is now 20 years along the road from the original beginnings of these systems - thus there  has already been an evolution  in how  the  systems have been developed & who is  best to do this.  The less efficient and  less entrepreneurial individuals  have already  fallen along the wayside  due to a nos of reasons  as you mention - failure to prevent theft, non regular feeding, poor tank  management, lack of sales skills - in the end as stated before successful fish farmers are special people with  specialised skill sets.
   
 

Dear Chioma  thank you for your  further questions - We will go through them and get back to you  Best wishes Will

We will be very careful with site selection as we want to ensure that we will gain insights about how the technology will be transferred in Malawi. First, we will conduct a survey among slum communities in Lilongwe and Blantyre to identify candidate sites. We will look at several issues including social and demographic characteristics, market access, and access to water. Once, we have identified potential sites, we will conduct an appraisal of the communities to identify potential participants considering gender, socio-economic status, age and evidence of entrepreneurship, among others. We intend to make the process participatory and we intend to select communities with keen interest on the technology so we will hold community workshops to introduce what we plan to do and gather people’s opinions. These opinions will be useful in understanding the cultural context of the technology transfer and its potential success.