I. Fishery Development and its Importance
With a mild climate and abundant rainfall, Uganda, the open water area which accounts for 15.3% of the land area, owns the most abundant water resources in Africa. It has unique conditions and advantages for fishery industry development. Five major lakes (Lake Victoria, Lake Albert (Africa), Lake Kyoga, Lake Edward, and Lake George (Uganda) are the main sources of fish in Uganda. Lake Victoria, the biggest area of fishing, continues to be the most important water body in Uganda both in size and contribution to the total fish catch.
It has more than 200 fish species, rich in Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and clarias catfish (Clarias gariepinus). North African catfish is currently the most popular, accounting for 60 percent of Ugandan fish farming. In Uganda, about 1.2 million people are engaged in the fishery industry, and nearly 5.3 million people take fishing for life. Fishery output value accounts for 20% of Uganda’s agricultural output, accounting for 5% of GDP.
Benefits of fishery development in Uganda
★Fish represents much of animal protein. It is usually low in saturated fats, carbohydrates, and cholesterol, provides a wide range of essential micronutrients, lowers cholesterol levels in the blood, and reduces the incidence of high blood pressure and heart disease. Because of its high-quality protein with essential amino acids and fatty acids, fish is increasingly preferred in this country.
★The fisherman who take income for motive power have a greater impact on the production of fish, and make a direct contribution to the rural economy through the trade of fish products; The products of the new commercial fish culture have very important and significant contributions to the fish production and the national economy.
II. The Difficulties Faced by Fish Farmers in Uganda
In recent years, due to illegal fishing and environmental pollution, production of the fishery has greatly decreased. With the fast development and great advancement of fish farming technology in other countries, Ugandan seems increasingly out of its depth due to the difficulties faced by itself now.
◇Ugandan cultivation technology is relatively low, with a backward aquaculture level and imperfect technology service system;
◇Lack of infrastructure, fish farming equipment, and professional aquaculture technical staff;
◇The capacity of seed and feed production is lower; the lack of technical services for fish farmers is partly responsible for low production.
◇Capital and technology inputs are in serious shortage;
◇With commercial enterprises and research institutions engaged in reservoirs, ponds, cages, and other aquaculture areas, freshwater fish farming has a rapid development. The scale of freshwater aquaculture, however, is still unable to make up for the gap in the natural water area.
Besides those problems mentioned above, according to a survey conducted by Fanway Fish Feed Machinery which specializes in manufacturing and providing international customers with quality fish feed pellet equipment, most fish farmers in Uganda, are facing 2 biggest problems: one is the lack of credit facilities considering the higher start-up capital investment. Just like most fish farmers in other developing countries, such as Indonesia and Nigeria, people in Uganda dare not invest in fish farms or other businesses rashly. Taking the lagging economy out of consideration, the main reason is the weak credit mechanism.
The other problem is the shortage of advanced fish feed pellet mills, which is the main reason that fish feed quality is not up to the standard. Poor fish feeds are incapacitating farmers as they cannot even recover the capital invested in fish farming. An article, named “Fish Farmers Decry Fake Fish Feeds on the Market” posted by New Vision in 2013, mentioned that fish farmers in Uganda called upon the Government to intervene in fish feed production because sub-standard feeds on the market had led to stunted growth, directly affecting the profitability of fish farming. The government should help feed producers by providing them with the necessary fish feed machinery and improved feed ingredients.
III. The Opportunity to Develop Fishery in Uganda
Government incentives policies
The government provides financial credit, renews the fishery economic policy, and encourages everyone to create a fishery and learn advanced science and technology. Surveys indicate there are plans to boost fish outputs in Uganda. The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has completed drafting a new policy that seeks to promote fish farming in the country through establishing aquaculture parks. The policy could go a long way toward reviving the dwindling fish volumes that once made Uganda a strong fish-exporting country. The government will identify specific areas in the country that are suitable for fish farming and acquire the sites for concentrated production.
There are numerous opportunities for investment in fish farming for Ugandans. One area that is attracting interest is cage fish farming. Uganda’s vast water bodies offer great cage fish farming opportunities. The country has a number of water spaces in the form of wetlands and open water systems where aquaculture parks can be developed for both rural, smallholder pond-based aquaculture systems and commercial and industrial-type production systems.
Introduction of advanced fish feed-making technology.
Due to the fast development of commercial fish farming in Uganda, the aquatic feed production industry is growing rapidly, with the most commonly used fish meal being Fish Feed Pellets. Because of the variety of fish species, the formula of fish feed is very important and the nutritional needs and quality of raw materials are the key to manufacturing cost-effective and sustainable fish feed pellets. Besides that, the digestibility of nutrients and palatability of fish food also should be taken into consideration during the fish feed pellets production.
With the introduction of extruded fish feed-making technology and the help of fish farming equipment, fish farmers in Uganda are able to produce fish feed to accommodate the feeding habits of the target species. In the mixing process, raw materials will be blended together evenly in a fish feed mixer. Meanwhile, with the addition of other nutrient elements, the fish feed will be with high nutritional value, which, to a large extent, will solve the embarrassing situation of aquatic feed production, and promote the development of fishery in Uganda.
The enthusiasm of fishermen
There are already a lot of people seizing the opportunity and getting benefits.
One of them is Paul Ssekyewa, a fish seed producer and grow-out farmer. Ssenya Fish Farm is located at Ssenya Village, five miles from Masaka along the Masaka-Kiwangala Road. In the beginning, they did not have the technology and the infrastructure to start their own business, so they supplemented the training by reading books on aquaculture, asking professional fish farmers for help online, and purchasing a whole set of fish feed production lines from Fanway Fish Feed Machinery. They began producing fish fingerings, and now they have about 40 fish ponds with the capacity to produce 500,000 catfish fingerings and 250,000 tilapia fingerlings per month.
The other one is Mitusera Bainomugisha from Iryango village in Kabuyanda Sub County in Isingiro District. In the beginning, his intention was to have enough fish for his family and sell the surplus to neighbors. As time went on he realized that demand was very high and he could not satisfy the market and then decided to venture into commercial fish farming. He started adding on ponds and diversified from tilapia to others like milacap and catfish locally known as emale. His venture has since grown into a multi-million-dollar business. With the expansion of the business, he wanted to export his fish to neighboring countries in the East African region, and he did it.
There are many such examples, people are full of confidence and hope for the development of fisheries.
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