Feed the Future and Farmer-to-Farmer Collaborate to Study the Impact of Invasive Crayfish in Zambia
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program (F2F), implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), is partnering with researchers at the University of Rhode Island and the University of Zambia to understand the impacts of the invasive Australian red claw crayfish in waterbodies across Zambia. The study is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish at Mississippi State University. Introduced to Zambia in the 1990s for farming, the Australian red claw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) has spread rapidly across key bodies of water—particularly Lake Kariba and the Kafue floodplain—causing disruptions to traditional fishing patterns, practices and livelihoods.
“Leveraging our experience in agricultural research and program implementation, CNFA is helping to improve understanding of the invasive crayfish species, which has become a pest for local fishers and can potentially have damaging impacts on local ecosystems,” notes Marjatta Eilittä, Director of CNFA’s F2F Program.
“Many rural communities near Lake Kariba and the Kafue floodplain rely on healthy freshwater ecosystems for their livelihoods and food security,” added Eva Nambeye, lecturer at the University of Zambia’s Department of Animal Science and a researcher on the crayfish study. “Through activities such as crayfish population monitoring, crayfish trapping and interviews with fishers, we hope to understand the crayfish’s distribution and impact on the country’s ecology.”
Although the ecological impacts of the red claw crayfish are not fully understood, the “Population Ecology and Current Distribution Assessment of the Introduced Invasive Crayfish in the Kafue Floodplain and Lake Kariba, Zambia” study aims to better understand the crayfish population size, structure, growth, breeding patterns and ecological impact on the environment. The study also assesses current crayfish harvest volumes and the likelihood of their trans-watershed boundary spread towards the Okavango Delta, a vast inland river delta and UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northern Botswana. The study is taking place from August 2021-2023.
“Once the study is complete, we will gain a better understanding of how to manage, mitigate and prevent the uncontrolled spread of the crayfish,” highlights professor Michael Rice from the University of Rhode Island Department of Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Science. “Ultimately, we are striving to preserve freshwater ecosystems, while protecting livelihoods and food security for future generations of fishers, fish farmers and communities.” Results from the study will also help the Zambian Department of Fisheries manage the invasive crayfish’s population and migration.
CNFA currently implements the F2F Program in Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Moldova. The five-year program (2018-2023) aims to connect mid-to senior-level U.S. volunteer experts with farmer groups, agribusinesses, trade associations, agricultural finance providers and other agriculture sector institutions to facilitate sustainable improvements in food security and agricultural processing, production and marketing. Experts interested in volunteering for F2F can visit CNFA’s Volunteer page here or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The U.S. Agency for International Development administers the U.S. foreign assistance program providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 80 countries worldwide.
About CNFA: Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) is an international agricultural development organization that specializes in the design and implementation of sustainable, enterprise-based agricultural initiatives. We work with businesses, foundations, governments, and communities to build customized local and global partnerships that meet the world’s growing demand for food. Since our inception in 1985, we have designed and implemented enterprise-based, agricultural development initiatives to facilitate market access, enhance agribusiness competitiveness, increase productivity, and improve access to inputs and financing in 47 countries around the world.