By Kellen Owente
Beginners in fish farming have been asked to identify the right species of fish, good environment and to carry out research if they want to be successful fish farmers. Facilitating during the fish-farming session at the Harvest Money expo, Richard Ddungu, the aquaculture scientific fish breeder at the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), advised the beginners to breed cultured fish, including African cat fish and Nile Tilapia because, according to their research, it is the best option.
The 2023 expo, which has kicked off today, is anchored on the theme, Farming as a Business-Post Harvest Handling and Value Addition, and will run until Sunday February, 12 at Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala. “Many beginners find difficulty choosing the right species to breed, but I can assure you that with the research we have done as NARO, those two have unique features that are desirable on the market,” he added. Ddungu said the two types of fish are advantageous because they grow fast, are resistant to low oxygen concentrations and have easy farm management techniques. Also, they can thrive in ponds and cages, which are commonly used in Uganda.
He also asked the participants to ensure that they have clean water sources, warning that not everywhere that one sees water is ideal for fish to thrive. “You must be able to take the water yourself before the fish can feed on it, but most importantly, ensure that the water is enough,” he says. Ddungu added that for one to breed 1kg of fish, they will need about 1,000 liters of water, emphasising that a pond must not be less than one meter deep, because when it is shallow, the water hits and pulls out, which does not benefit the fish at all.
“As a farmer, you might not have enough resources to have many ponds, but you can work around your environment, to make it comfortable enough for fish breed, so that they are not affected by poor quality water or bad weather,” he says. Even though fish feeds are expensive, Ddungu noted that the farmer should purchase high quality ones, because at the end of the day, the farmer will get the money back. Ivan Ssabwe, the sales representative at Kaudis Animal Nutrition, says just like any other business, research is needed before anyone can start investing in fish farming, because this helps them to avoid losses.
He said good fish feed must have balanced nutritional requirements at every stage including amino and fatty acids. “Good fish feed must be easily absorbed by the fish’s digestive system and be attractive to stimulate its appetite. Crucial factors such as site selection, a farm plan and layout, seed and stocking density are paramount,” he says.
Feed Conversion Ratio
Ddungu told farmers to use a cost-effective method called the Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR), which is a trick that can help them save themselves from making losses and costly prices for fish feeds. “With FCR, you must ask the seller to explain how much of their feed is needed for one kilogram of fish. If they do not have the right facts, run for your life because you do not want to make losses,” he advised. He noted that 70% of the farmer’s income goes to the fish feeds and that means that he or she should carefully consider high quality fish feeds. “People want to use cheap fish feeds, but poor quality and inadequate feeds lead to fish-growth stagnation, which cannot earn a farmer much money,” he says.
The Harvest Money expo that has started today and is ending on Sunday February 12, is sponsored by the Kingdom of Netherlands, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS), Pepsi, ENGSOL, RIELA/ UPFRONT, Agricultural Credit Facility (ACF) and Uganda Warehouse Receipt System Authority (UWRSA), Champrisa International Limited and State House.