By Lawrence Mulondo
The Government has indicated that the aquaculture sector will create five million employment opportunities by 2030 in the fisheries value chain, including the hatchery of fingerlings, production, marketing and transportation.
The acting commissioner of aquaculture management and development in the agriculture ministry, Andrew Alio, said Uganda targets harvesting 1.7 metric tonnes of fish annually by 2030.
“In the target, 700,000 metric tonnes have to be harvested from the lakes, while one million tonnes are expected from aquaculture,” he said.
“At the moment, people involved in the aquaculture value chain, right from young fish production, are estimated at 15,000,” he said.
He made the remarks during a two-day conference organized by the Ministry of Water and Environment to link farmers operating in Doho and Ngrnge irrigation schemes to other stakeholders in the agribusiness valve chain at Mount Elgon Hotel in Mbale last Wednesday.
The farmers are part of those that were trained and are being assisted to operate under the Farm Income Ehancement and Forestey Conservation Programme (FIEFOC 2) project in the five government
Irrigation schemes of Doho in Butaleja, Ngenge in Kween, Mubku in Kasese, Wadelai in Pakwach and Tochi in Oyam.
Alio said the country harvests about 120,000 metric tonnes from aquaculture, leaving a deficit of 880,000 metric tonnes.
He added that to produce one million metric tonnes of fish, the country needs 2.5 billion fish fingerlings. However, only 300 million fingerlings are being produced.
Alio said people should take advantage of the tropical climate in Uganda, which he said is favourable for fish farming throughout the year.
“We no longer import fish seeds from the neighbor countries. We have hatcheries that produce quality seeds for two species; tilapia and cut fish,” he said.
Alio said there is a large market for fish locally and regionally in countries such as DR Congo, South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.
Aventios Bakunda, the principal fisheries officer in the agriculture ministry, said under FIEFOC 2 project, the Government supports farmers in the five irrigation schemes to enhance fish production.
Butaleja residents district commissioner Hajira Namagogwe said agriculture employs 70% of Ugandans and contributes 26.2% to export revenue.
He said farmers should be supported to understand that agriculture is a business and not a survival tool.
Winnie Atugonza, a senior standards officer at Uganda National Bureau of Standards, said there was a need for farmers to observe the required standards to reduce post-harvest losses and to increase profits.
She added that once farmers observe standards, they could earn the trust of traders and consumers, enhancing the competitiveness of locally-processed products.
The Bank of Uganda head of agriculture credit facility, Alex Lwanja, urged farmers to access governmrnt loans from any commercial bank to commercilalise agribusiness.
To access the facility, one needs a bank account, bankable proposal and d=security for a sh20m loan request.