The loan will jump Tilapia production output to 20 000 tonnes by 2015 from the current 2 500 tonnes.
The loan, approved by the bank’s board of directors last week, represents its re-engagement with Zimbabwe as AfDB was only giving Zimbabwe technical assistance.
Zimbabwe owes AfDB over US$500 million which it is failing to repay that had resulted in the Tunis based bank stopping lines of credit to Zimbabwe.
Tilapia is one of Africa’s most important sources of freshwater fish. An AfDB agricultural expert has assessed the Lake Harvest operation as likely to be “the largest integrated Tilapia farm in Sub-Saharan Africa and the best run agriculture operation in Africa”.
The board of directors was informed that this AfDB private sector loan will help Lake Harvest to increase annual Tilapia production from the current figure of 2,500 tons to about 20,000 tons by 2015, the bank said in a statement.
The project will also help boost Zimbabwe’s exports to the rest of Africa and to Europe, AfDB said.
Designed to follow environmental and social best practices, the project will also adhere to strict European production standards.
“With Europe absorbing 13 percent of the output and with some 50 percent exported to southern Africa, the project brings several strategic and cost-competitive outcomes: economic growth, regional integration, international trade and better food security in Zimbabwe and neighboring countries,” AfDB said.
Following the approval, Tim Turner, the AfDB’s private sector director said “The Lake Harvest operation is excellent and considered by many experts as a role model for sustainable fish farming on the continent.
Lake Harvest is expected to generate more than 900 new high-quality permanent jobs by 2015 and will contribute to an estimated US$33 million at present value terms in government revenues over the next ten years.”