By Yosam Gucwaki
Masindi fish farmers have expressed concern over the lack of feeds for fingerlings that were supplied by the Government under Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) at the beginning of last year.
“We were given fingerlings, which we put in our well-established fish ponds. I am so disappointed with what I found in my pond during my first harvest. I expected a lot, but to my dismay, I have only harvested stunted fish,” Francis Balimaino, a fish farmer who benefited under OWC in Katikara village, Kihonda sub-county, Masindi district, said.
According to Balimaino, they have a problem with fish feeds, adding that these are not sold in the district.
“There is nowhere you can buy fish feeds in the district. We get them from Kampala, which is too costly. That is why our fish gets stunted,” he lamented.
Balimaino said the Government should have thought of establishing a fish feed processing facility before giving out the fingerlings to farmers.
“If the Government does not establish the fish feeds processing facility in the district, we may end up abandoning fish farming,” he noted.
Balimaino said to make matters worse, they also have no standard fishing gear for harvesting fish from the ponds.
“We have only one fishing gear in the whole district, but it is substandard,” he said.
Arafairi Kayingo, another fish farmer in Kituuka village, Labongo sub-county, said they are not getting what they expected from the ponds due to lack of sufficient fish feeds.
“We appreciate the Government for giving us fingerlings, but we may not earn much from the venture unless the Government establishes a fish feeds factory in the district,” he noted.
Kayingo, who got 5,000 fingerlings, said he was given fake fish feeds by some government officials from Masindi.
Geoffrey Bigabwa, the secretary for production at Masindi district local government, who witnessed the fishing exercise in Labongo sub-county, was also disappointed with what the fish farmers harvested.
He said the fisheries sector is one of those which gets meagre funding.
“But during the budget conference, we made sure that this sector is funded,” Bigabwa said.
Attempts to get a comment from Prudence Alituha, the principal fisheries officer at Masindi, were futile.
She said she would not say anything and referred the writer to the chief administrative officer.