By Patrick Okino
Tom Anyii Okello, one of the Best farmers in the Vision Group competition of 2017 has been hit by disaster resulting in the loss of 40,000 fish worth over sh200m.
Anyii, the 3rd runner-up in the competition sponsored by the Royal Netherlands embassy in Kampala, dfcu Bank, Vision Group and KLM Airlines then bagged sh20m, lost mature catfish and tilapia ready for the market.
Anyii, the executive director of TAF agro-tourism farm in Lira City East Division was practicing beekeeping and citrus farming but after a learning tour of the Netherlands he expanded by including fish farming and rabbit rearing.
The project according to Anyii was performing extremely well and he had started reaping the fruits out of it besides beekeeping but recently it rained heavily, submerged the ponds and swept off all the fish.
“I had over 30,000 fish and all of them were swept off by high volume of floods and as I talk now I don’t know where to start from,” Anyii said.
He added that he had eight fish ponds constructed within the intervals of two year and out of them four were washed away leaving him with four.
Development Initiative for Northern Uganda, a flagship programme funded by the European Union and supervised by the Office of the Prime minister had just donated a fish smoking kiln machine to help Anyii realized his dream of value addition.
But he said that the machine is idle because there is no mature fish.
Anyii was the 3rd runner up among Uganda’s 2017 top 10 best farmers with Isaac Malinga from Kapchorwa district emerging the overall winner.
He practiced beekeeping with over 300 beehives, adding value to honey, established out growers, and trained youth in Lango, Karamoja and Acholi sub regions.
But he said the beekeeping project is currently not doing well because a number of hives had not colonized since 2019.
Other winners include Julius Bigabwa,Justine Omeke Didid, Timothy Jokene, Patrick Makanga Bakumpe and Robert Ociti, Margaret Mbaga, Jacob Noah Bamwise, and Racheal Amol.
Expectation of sh2b
“Our target in two years is to raise like sh2b from fish apart from our core apiary project,” Anyii said three years after returning from the Netherlands.
Anyii resigned as Ngetta sub county chief in 2008 and started venturing into commercial farming, a decision he never regretted.
“After coming back from the Netherlands I never folded my hands, “he said.
“I want to encourage our farmers outside there, please look at farming as a business, let us advise our children that farming is the way to go,” Anyii was quoted as saying.
The district production coordinator, Thomas Okello said Anyii has done a lot to train and inspire farmers to practice farming as a business.
He added that Anyii should not give up but seek technical advice to resume and mitigate future disaster or occurrences.
The senior district fishery officer, Micheal Okello said one of the mistakes farmers make is to construct a fish pond in the middle of the wetland or where water flows.
“When it rains the water will flow through the same path and sweep away all the fish,” Okello said.
“I want to advise farmers, especially fish farmers to seek advice from the technical person and to see if the place is suitable for the fish pond,” he added.
He said there are extension workers in the sub county and people should always consult to avoid losing millions of shillings they spent in constructing ponds
If the site is prone to flooding, Okello said, you can put an embankment that will stop water from entering in the pond and after you create a big channel so that when it rains heavily it follows in the channel.
Tips on constructing pond
The site should have an adequate water source which will fill the fish pond throughout the circle, the quality of water should be good but not polluted because if there is pollutant it will suffocate and kill all the fish according to Okello.
“Thirdly the soil of the site should be good enough or clay loam not sandy soil which is very porous and cannot hold water for long,” he added.
He said the history of the site should be understood before establishing the ponds because there are areas which are prone to flooding and if you set up your pond where history says it used to flood, it will repeat itself one time.