By Carol Kasujja Adi
Makerere University has trained over 100 fish farmers in the modern and best practices in fish farming to boost the aquaculture industry.
The farmers from western, central and eastern Uganda were trained at the Mukono Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MUZARD).
Speaking during a three-day training, Dr Jackson Efitre, a senior lecturer in the department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences at Makerere University, noted that the university is implementing the provision of training services under the promoting environmentally sustainable commercial aquaculture in Uganda (PESCA) to support training that will improve knowledge, skills and practices that enhance aquaculture production and productivity in Uganda.
According to Dr Efitre, the Government is targeting production from aquaculture and fisheries to hit 1.7 million tones by the year 2030 but the lakes are strained because of poor and illegal fishing activities.
“The Government considers aquaculture as a vital sector that can provide jobs, improve food and nutrition security, as well as livelihoods of the people. However, as a commercial industry, aquaculture remains underdeveloped despite the significant potential for development into a viable commercial sub-sector. By the end of the training, farmers will know which species to breed and in which environment,” he said.
The fisheries and aquaculture policy (2018) implores government to support education/training to build a sustainable critical mass to drive technical advisory and management of fisheries and aquaculture through development of curricula tailored to local needs and strengthening human resource capacity for managing fisheries and aquaculture sub-sectors.
Dr Efitre called upon farmers that before they think of aquaculture, they should ensure they have clean water sources, warning that not everywhere that one sees water is ideal for fish to thrive.
Addressing fish farmers, Dr Rosemary Nalwanga, a lecturer in the department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences at Makerere University, revealed that they are training all the actors in fishing industry so that farmers who want to go commercial can have the right size of fish and find market for their fish.
“Fish farming is one of the fastest farming ventures, but most people do it on a trial-and-error basis, and mostly for subsistence, those who are doing it copy from neighbours while establishing ponds, and they end up producing poor quality fish that cannot compete internationally. We want farmers to add value to their fish and how to avoid making losses due to polluted water,” Dr Nalwanga said.
Nalwanga called upon farmers to have a team of professionals they work with to run business smoothly.
“Some farmers are the managers, security guards, accountants and the same people responsible for feeding the fish. Avoid doing everything on your own. Let someone monitor the fish and someone be responsible for books of accounts. That is the only way you will manage business,” Nalwanga said.
During the training, the farmers said their main constraints include: poor quality feeds and lack of hatchery feeds, insufficient production and low qualities of fry, weak capacity and skill levels of staff to manage hatcheries, lack of necessary equipment, very little formal organisation of fish farmers into producer groups, limited value addition, fish diseases and environmental threats such as climate change.