Fish for life



Latest news about the project will be provided at this page. if you want to be kept informed about the progress in the project, frequently come back to this resource.


This nice hand-carved wooden plate with the name of the project was a gift from the Malawian team to the German partner and handed over at the farewell party in April 2018, celebrating the successfull overall cooperation and speficically the accomplishment of the solar powered hatchery

Aquaponic unit assembled at the Bunda Campus farm

In addition to the barrelponics system which was build and tested in the project, a larger Aquaponic unit was planned and constructed on the farm of the Bunda Campus.

The unit is almost ready to start to operate. The same type of unit will be constructed at the Benga Parish in Nkhotakota district and will be used, apart from producing vegetables and fish, as a template for the local communities, which may consider to build a similiar system in their villages. This system will be powered with the same solar facility as the smaller barrelponics unit. More details coming soon.

Please click on the pictures to see a larger photo.

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Third campaign on tilapia fingerlings and feed delivery started in March 2019

The project has started the third times to deliver fingerlings and feed to the communities which are participating in the "Ich liebe Fisch"-project.

The project started with the delivery of fingerlings and feed for two communities in Mjinchi district end of March. The Ntawa and Chikondi fish clubs got fingerlings which were reared at the Bunda farm with support of the solar powered hatchery including proper feed for the first month (more feed batches will follow). Ntawa received about 10,000, Chikondi about 4000 fingerlings. The number of fingerlings to deliver was calculated on the size of the ponds of the fish clubs. The clubs got fingerlings from 3 species, O. karongae (Chambo), O. shiranus and hybrids. A full report about the delivery of this campaign will be available soon. Some photos of the delivery event are available at this page. The campaign will be continued with the delivery of fingerlings to the other fish clubs in Mjinchi and Nkhotakota district.


Training Course On Solar Powered Hatchery Operation

From the 12th to the 14th of March 2019, a full 3-days training course on solar powered hatchery operation was accomplished at the Bunda campus farm.

Fish farmer, technicians, extension worker, instructor and district fisheries officer participated in this training course. According to the results of a questionnaire which was distributed at the end of the training course, most participants provided a very positive feedback. There were many requests for repeating such kind of training courses in the future. A full report about the training course with details on the rating will be available soon.

Course content in brief

i) Introductory presentations ii) Guided tour to Bunda Campus aquaculture and fisheries department and farm operation iii) Introduction into the solar power facility iv) Broodfish management at the farm and present production methods for fingerlings v) Quality of feed for juveniles and adults vi) Hatchery operation: explaining the technology, hands-on training, including maintenance, monitoring water parameter, feed and feeding technology.

Workshop agenda and training course presentations now available in the public project repository of this website. Videos & pictures from the workshop are now available.


Introduction to the operation of the solar powered hatchery at the Bunda College Farm, Version 1.0, 2019 

One of the major goals of the project ¨Ich liebe Fisch "was to establish technologies which improve significantly the stable supply of viable fingerlings to farmers which want to grow fish for food and for the market. To achieve this goal, the project has provided a solar powered indoor hatchery which is designed to support intensive production of tilapia fingerlings, specifically for Oreochromis karongae (Chambo). A hatchery Operation manual was compiled in order to introduce into the operation of the solar powered hatchery at the Bunda College Farm. This manual will be submitted to the participants in a training course on hatchery operation in March 2019 at the Bunda Campus Farm. Download the manual as pdf.

Please note: according to the experience in the training course on solar powered hatchery operation which was accomplished from the 12th to the 14th of March 2019 at the Bunda Campus farm, an update of the manual will be available soon, specifically with more information and instructions on water quality measurements and larval feeding. Please come back to this site and watch out for the version number of the manual

New version 1.0 available, May 2019: Some modifications in the existing text, new chapter on water parameter mesurements, larval feed and general introduction on tilapia propagation added. 


The solar powered hatchery of the project "Ich liebe Fisch" made it to the cover story in the Hatcheryfeed magazine from December 2018

The volume 6, issue 4 of the Hatcheryfeed Magazine featured an article about the solar powered hatchery which was assembled and put into operation at Bunda farm in 2018. The title of the report: "Implementation of new hatchery technologies to improve the supply of tilapia fingerlings for rural farmer in Malawi". The article presents the general framework of the "Ich liebe Fisch" project but specifically deals with technical details and the expected outcome of the hatchery. Read more online or download the article as pdf.


Two German project partner from GMA and EMB visited the "Ich liebe Fisch" project in Lilongwe in November 2018

The visit was dedicated to solve some issues with the solar power facility and to kick-off the full operation of the hatchery and the MCDonald unit for egg incubation. Another activity was the organisation of a training course in molecular biology and cryopreservation which was conducted from 6th to 10th November 2018. The training aimed at equipping students with skills on molecular biology and how to use them. Students were offered practical sessions in areas of DNA extraction, DNA amplification, gel electrophoresis and allele scoring, and the long term preservation of biological material like semen using liquid nitrogen. Overall, it was a very successful activity, Since then, the solar powered hatchery works without any hassles. Some more pictures from these activities will be available soon. Read more about the training course.


The Malawian coordinator of the "Ich liebe Fisch" project visited the German partner

A project meeting among the Malawian and the German coordinator was organized in Germany at the EMB and GMA from 29th of July to 6th of August 2018. The meeting took place in the period when the two master students were trained in the German partner institutes. The meeting was due to disuss project matters for the next year and beyond. While being in Germany, the Malawian guests had the opportunity to visit a typical German pond aquaculture farm. The project partner were appreciating the nice hosting and the guided tour at the fish farm Reese. 


Two Masters students in Aquaculture and Fisheries Science were being hosted by two German research institutions

Under a sponsored exchange visit by the project "Improving Community Health-Nutrition Linkages Through Solar Energy-Based Fish and Crop Integrated Value Chains" – Ich liebe fisch (I love fish), in partnership with Africa Center of Excellence in Aquaculture and Fisheries Science (AquaFish ACE) at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), two Master students were visiting the German partner institutes, the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Marine Biotechnology and Cell Technology (EMB) in Lübeck and the Association for Marine Aquaculture (GMA) in Büsum for almost 3 months. The students were  receiving hands-on training in Fish Genetics and Molecular Biology, Cryopreservation of fish gametes and its possible application in aquaculture and in advanced fish larvae rearing techniques for the mass production of quality fingerlings. Read more...    


8th of July: Documentary about the project "Ich liebe Fisch" broadcasted in the ZDF 

A film team visited the project in Malawi in April 2018 in order to compile a documentary about the project "Ich liebe Fisch". The film team was contracted from one of the large German public-service television stations, the ZDF. The documentary was shown within the series of the e-Planet contributions. The documentary can be accessed from the "Mediathek" of the ZDF. Please note, that restrictions may apply when accessing the link from foreign countries. In that case, please inform the adminsitrator of this site. Additional interviews with the German team, taken during production of the project documentation in Malawi and Germany can be accessed at the video resource of this site.


Hatchery and Solar power plant successfully assembled at Bunda College

The German project team travelled to Malawi in spring 2018 in order to set up a solar powered hatchery on the ground of the farm of the Bunda colleage. Construction of the hatchery started on 26th March this year and its main focus is on the production of fingerlings of Oreochromis karongae (the real Chambo and the most favourable Tilapia species in Malawi). Together with a team from the Aquaculture and Fisheries Science Department, the installation was completed on Monday, 9th of April 2018 at Bunda Fish Farm. The hatchery and solar power plant was designed and assembled under the leadership of Dr. Bernd Ueberschär of the Association of Marine Aquaculture (GMA).

A detailled report about these activities will soon made available in the projects repository. Some pictures and time-lapse videos of these activities are available at the picture repository of this site.

Pond inspections of the participating communities in the districts of Nkhotakota and Mchinji in February 2018

A trip was organized to the participating communities in the districts of Nkhotakota and Mchinji at the 8th and 10th of February 2018. These project activities aimed at assessing the fish ponds and making them ready for the projects implementation phase. At the beginning of the projects pilot phase in the preceding year of 2017, the project organized a seminar which involved the first extensive pond preparation trainings. The farmers were asked to prepare their ponds for the second phase of the project hence this trip was arranged to follow up on the progress and reach out to the pond preparation challenges farmers were facing on the ground.

A detailled report about these activities is available in the projects repository. Some pictures of the inspections are available at the picture repository of this site.

Container arrived at Bunda College

The container with the hatchery, photovoltaic facility and many other equipment finally arrived at the 19th of January 2018 at the Bunda college in Lilongwe. After a long journey, the content of the container is apparently complete and undamaged. in order to assemble hatchery and PV facility and to facilitate the application of aquaponic techniques. Some pictures of the stowing procedure are available at the picture repository of this site.


German Team isited the Project in November/December 2017

The German team travelled to Malawi from end of November until end of December 2017 to attend the project and to accomplish a couple of tasks together with the project partner from Malawi.

Although deviations from the original schedule for this visit in Malawi were necessary (the container with the stuff for hatchery and solar power plant was delayed), the visit of the German partner was very useful.  Various meetings at the Bunda college were organized, plans of the coming activities in 2018 discussed, lectures given in classes of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department and concepts for Master theses developed with those students who are designated to come to Germany.

Another important activity was the visit of the participating communities in Mchinji and Nkhotakota. The German team spend a couple of days in Nkhotakota at the Malawi lake and organized, with the help of the local district fisheries officers, a meeting with key members of the local community. A lot of aspects were discussed, it was important to learn for the German team that many of the project activities which were accomplished so far went into the right direction. Nevertheless, there were a couple of issues identified which still need improvements and corrections.

Another trip went to the participating communities in Mchinji with more or less the same program compared to the trip to Nkhotakota. In summary, the communities in Mchinji were more comitted to their aquaculture activities, thus the measures to improve pond management were more appreciated in the communities of this district.

In addition, some other meetings were organized, such as a brainstorming with representatives from World Fish, the organisation is aiming to intensify their activities in Malawi. Areas of common interest were identified where the project might cooperate with the World Fish activities.

In summary, this visit in Malawi yielded in the acknowledegment of the major obstacles for successful aquaculture in Malawi: lack of fingerlings to stock the ponds properly, specifically lack of O. karongae offsprings, lack of proper feed for ongrowing fish; deficiencies in knowledge on proper pond and water management and a general failure of electricity supply. Alle those issues were were initially adressed in the project´s application and are further in the focus of the project.

Some pictures of the visit are available at the picture repository of this site.


Training in fish harvesting, food processing, product development, sensory evaluation and marketing

The training sessions were conducted in Nkhotakota from 6th -10th November and in Mchinji from 11th - 15th November 2017 with the following objectives: to establish and revamp care groups in the project sites, to train farmers in fish product development, to conduct sensory evaluation of the developed fish products, to equip communities with basic nutrition and complimentary feeding knowledge, to train fish farmers in fish harvesting and post harvesting handling and to train communities in marketing of fish and fish based products.

In November 2017, ten members from each fish club participating in the project were trained in fish harvesting techniques and post-harvest handling methods. In addition, together with the representatives from care groups they were trained on basic principles of marketing and record keeping.

A total of 72 women from the revamped and established care groups were trained in a wide number of nutrition topics such as the six food groups, importance of dietary diversification, and principles of proper nourishment of infants and children. In addition to the women from the care groups, the training also involved fish clubs chairpersons and primary and secondary school students and their patrons.

The attendants were trained how to optimize preparation of Maize including fish, vegetable porridge and Cassava, dishes which aims specifically to improve the nutrition status of infants and young children under 2 years. They were also trained how to make fish sausage, fish balls and fish samosa that are aimed to improve the nutrition status of the whole family and to improve their income through marketing of surplus products.

Some pictures of the training sessions are available at the picture repository of this site.

40-ft Container shipped to Lilongwe

A 40-ft containeraswas packed for the project at Fraunhofer EMB in Lübeck and shipped at the 6th of December with the destination Lilongwe, Bunda College.

The container will bring a complete hatchery for intensive rearing of Tilapia fry, including an egg incubation facility (McDonald type hatching jars), a solar energy plant which will supply continous elctricity for the hatchery and a large industrial tent as housing for the hatchery. In addition, a lot of auxilary stuff was shipped with the container which is needed to assemble the hatchery and the solar power plant and for research purposes. The container is supposed to arrive mid of December in Lilongwe.

Some pictures of the stowing procedure are available at the picture repository of this site.


Following pond stocking on 24th May 2017 and525th May 2017 in Nkhotakota and Mchinji respectivel,, three field visits (once per month) have been conducted with the objectives of monitoring growth of fish and vegetables and also deliver feed which is done monthly. The project team took advantage of the second monitoring trip to assess availability of care-groups and their functionality, to document number of households currently participating in the project; to estimate the prevalence of households with under-five children as well as to document upcoming best practices. The related report  summarizes key findings and observations that were made during the three monitoring trips.

The monitoring team visited all the seven clubs that are involved in this pilot research in the Nkhotakota District On average fish is growing well in the district Chijere and Teen Mission clubs which were given Amaranthus and pumpkin leaf vegetables, respectively, are the only clubs that did well in vegetable production as observed during the monitoring trips. Several clubs complained that their vegetable plants were attacked by pests and diseases while still at the nursery stage. The project team went to the field for the third monitoring trip with a horticulturist (from LUANAR, horticulture departmen) to help in pests and disease identification, to recommend proper management and treatment, and identify suitable land for vegetable production for each club and to help in how to measure necessary parameters to determine growth performance of vegetables.

The monitoring team visited further all the three fish clubs participating in Mchinji district. On average, fish is growing well  in Mchinji district,  although slower than those in Nkhotakota. This might be attributed to lower temperatures in Mchinji. The Jefter Zenasi and Tikondaneish Club were observed to be the best in terms of vegetable production during the first and second monitoring trips. Fish Club were observed to be the best in terms of vegetable production during the first and second monitoring trips.

The assessment of the care groups in the two districts yielded that there is a good participation and commitment in implementing club activities by women and youth. In Mchinji it was revealed that there are functional care groups in all the clubs (except Ntawa club). In Nkhotakota there are no functional care groups in all the clubs. The project will revamp the care groups where they already exist and establish new ones where they do not exist.

The full report about these monitoring activities and a comprehensive Power Point presentation are available in the protected repository of this site. More pictures are available at the picture repository of this site.


IAA-Training Courses

LUANAR,LUANAR, QUALivE, IFFNT, EMB & GMA, IFFNT, EMB & GMA, IFFNT, EMB & GMA through the project ICH-LIEBE-FISCH (I LOVE FISH) conducted training courses for 285 fish farmers in Nkhotakota and Mchinji District..

The training which was conducted on the 8th to the 9th of  May 2017 in Nkhotakota gathered together 145 fish farmers from 11 fish clubs being trained in Integrated Agriculture-Aquaculture (IAA), and grow-out management. Similar training courses were conducted in Mchinji at the 10th to 11th of May 2017 which attracted 140 fish farmers from 4 clubs participating.

According to one of the senior researchers, associate professor Joshua Valeta, the training was aimed to equip farmers with knowledge in IAA & grow-outt managemen.  He said that most of the farmers do not make profits because they use lots of inputs sourced externally and they end up harvesting low amount of fish due to a lack of knowledge in best pond management practices. He added that IAA will enable farmers to fully utilize on-farm bio-resources because discard or by-products from one system will be used as inputs in a second production system (e.g. nutrients excreted from the fish will be used to fertilize vegetable) within the farm resulting in greater efficiency.

Integrated fish-vegetable production is a typical IAA set-up which will be implemented through this project and it has potential to improve nutritional status of farmers while improving cash flow. Associated Professor Joshua Valeta mentioned, that the training came in due time of the year just before stocking of the ponds is on the agenda of the farmers. The recently acquired knowledge can be immediately turned into practice.

QUALivES Coordinator Mr Mofolo Sifo said, the training allows farmers to learn about IAA and efficient grow-out technologie; a baseline survey conducted late last year revealed that more than 80% of those farmers who are interested in these techniques however, have no knowledge in IAA. Most farmers did not know about fish-crop integration and its benefits, but as an outcome from these training event, they are all enthusiastic to start integrating fish with vegetables production. The farmers learn, that integration of fish-vegetable production would need less resources (e.g. water for irrigation) and only require small land for greater productivity and increased income.

One of the trained farmer, group village headman Kawele (from Mchinj) thanked LUANAR and its partners for conducting the training events. He emphasized that Mchinji fish farmers will certainly adopt the projects goals beyond the project’s lifespan and they want to become important suppliers of fish and fish products in Malawi.

At the end of the training, the project team distributed Panga knifes and slashers to the farmers in both districts. The tools were distributed to help farmers prepare the ponds and pond stocking is expected before end of May 2017. The tools were distributed in presence of district fisheries personnel who will help to track the clubs that are active in preparing their ponds and need fish seed.

Apart from Mr Sifo and associate Professor Valeta, other training facilitators were Martha Alufeyo and Idrissa Nkwanda. 

Impressions from the training sessions in Mchinji and Nkhotakota distric,, From lef:: training lessons, Professor Joshua Valeta distributing tool,, group shot with farmers after receiving their tool..

Site selection

Two field trips were organized in November 2016 in order to inspect and to identify appropriate site, communities and beneficiaries for the project.

From 11th -12th of November, a field visit was organized to Nkhotakota district to identify and inspect sites and innovative fish farmers that the project would work with in the area. Through the same trip it was expected that a potential project site would be identified and sensitization of the communities therein about the project was to follow. Furthermore, a  meeting with the Nkhotakota District Fisheries Officer (DFO), District Agricultural Development Officer (DADO), was also arranged to facilitate awareness of government officials about the project.

A field visit was organized to Mchinji to identify and inspect project site and beneficiaries, and to conduct stakeholder consultation meeting (Stakeholder Consultatio, Sensitization and Compilation of Technology platform structures).

The full reports about the site evaluation are available in the public repository of this site. 

Impressions from the field trips which were conducted to see sites in Mchinji and Nkhotakota district in order to evaluate if these sites suit to the project goals.  

Fish selection

Finding innovative ways to boost aquaculture is the only way to meet the demand for fish which by far outstrips present supply.

Current production from aquaculture is just a mere 3,500 tonnes from small-scale farms and sustainable growth strategies for an increasing self-supply are presently lacking. The major constraint in Malawian aquaculture is the lack of afast-growing species, comparable to O. niloticus found in other countries. This problem has been exacerbated by the fact that the Government of Malawi Act does not allow import of exotic fish species (in light of the alien species problems) in order to protect the biodiversity in Lake Malawi, which hosts an international fish heritage sanctuary. Taking this into account, there is a need to maximize production of native fish specie, which is only possible through research and innovation.  

Currently, there are three tilapia species being farmed in Malawi: Oreochromis shiranus, O. karongae and Tilapia rendalli. O. shiranus is widely cultured (about3 93% of all farmers), largely due to its easy handling;  but it has a slow growth rate. Although.O. shiranus was subjected to selective breeding program, its growth performance at the 6th generation is not encouraging (25% gains over non improved strains).

O. karongae grows faster and tastes better and studies on consumer preference have shown that O. karongae is preferred over the other Tilapia (Chambo) species (Kaunda et al., 2005).  In a study conducted by Andrew et al. in 2003, it was shown that also fish farmers would prefer to culture O. karongae. But the major problem is its low fecundity and low larval survival, resulting into insufficient numbers of fingerlings to supply farmer enough fingerlings.

Being the most preferred fish and due to the low availability from fish farms, overfishing of the wild population has resulted in dwindling catches (reduction of more than 70% in catches over a ten-year period, IUCN red list, 2013.2) to the extent that it has been red-listed as an endangered fish species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Therefore, a, major goal of this project is to improve fecundity and larval survival of this fast growing species and to enable farmers to culture this species in large numbers.


Project Kick-Off meeting

In July, the Kick-Off meeting for the project "Ich liebe Fisch" was successfully conducted in Lilongwe from July 19 to22nd, 2016. The venue was the University Lilongwe  (LUANAR), at the Aquaculture & Fisheries Science Department. 

Representatives from all partners were participating. The meeting was also dedicated to establish a personal contact among all major project partners. Apart from the main meeting, a visit of the exeperimental facilities at LUANAR and a field trip to a model farm were organised.

 Agenda for the Meeting
•        Welcome remarks
•        Project contract agreement
•        Work packages review and implementation plan
•        Response toLEBLE questions
•        Project Budget
•        Project area visits

The meeting was considered as very useful and productive; a detailled planning of the first projct year was accomplished. The minutes of the meeting are provided as PDF-download in the protected document repository of this site.  

Core representatives from all project partners in Malawi and Germany participated in the Kick-Off Meeting at LUANAR in Lilongwe.


Farm visit

In order to provide some insights into Malawi farm operations including aquaculture, a model-like farm was visited  around Bunda community from German and Malawi project partner. The visited farm has a model charakter due to its versatile operation mode.

The farm produces Chambo in two ponds and a number of different crop, such as coconut, banana, honey and other various vegetables.

Since the farm has continous access to water resources (river), it can almost operate independant from the raining season. The farm looks well arranged and the farmer has a clear plan about the style to operate his farm.  

The visit of a model farm provided good impressions about the options in combining aquaculture and crop production under the given conditions (the model farm has continious access to water sources).  

Please note: this site is under construction. Copyright ©2018 Fish For Life,