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Government Asked To Prioritise Mukene Fish

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By Charles Kakamwa

Fishermen dealing in silverfish, locally known as mukene, want the Government to prioritise this kind of fish, saying despite its huge potential, they lag behind due to lack of proper handling facilities.

Under the Najja Development Association, they said they recently secured a deal to supply thousands of tonnes of mukene to China, but despite its availability in the lake, lack of proper equipment for drying and preservation frustrated their efforts.

 John Wobuyi Bondyo, the chairman of the association based at Kiyindi landing site in Buikwe district, said they preserve fish by applying salt and spreading it under the sun but these are not reliable especially on rainy days which causes losses.

Bondyo said government’s intervention would not only enable the fishermen increase their catch but also dry large volumes of the fish within a short period in addition to increased shelf life.

“In this era, we need to move away from rudimentary methods and acquire modern techniques including proper drying racks,” he said.

“The demand for Uganda’s mukene fish is overwhelming but we really need assistance of the government and development partners to be able to satisfy the market,” Bondyo who said the association sold nine tons of mukene to Zimbabwe,” he added.

Bondyo was speaking during a meeting in which findings of a research done on small fish on Lake Victoria were disseminated at Silver Spring Hotel in Bugolobi, Kampala on December 16, 2022.

The five year study codenamed Long term European Union-Africa Research and Innovation Partnership on Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (LEAP-AGRI) was conducted by the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI).

The director of NaFIRRI, Dr Winnie Nkalubo, explained that the research, funded by the Government of Uganda and the European Union, was meant to facilitate sustainability of small fish, its quality and preservation.

Nkalubo revealed that the fisheries sector had experienced a decline in large fish which necessitates more emphasis on the small fish species such as mukene.

“Mukene has essential nutrients that boost health but unfortunately it is undervalued. It contributes most by weight to commercial landings from Lake Victoria and supports millions of people in the region,” she said.

The study found that fish catch rates were slightly higher using solar light than kerosene lamps, while there was a higher proportion of Caridina nilotica harvested in deep sheltered water than shallow waters.

The proportion of immature mukene was higher inshore and coastal areas, according to Richard Mangeni-Sande, who presented the findings.

Agriculture state minister Fred Bwino Kyakulaga challenged the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) and all other research institutes to always ensure that research technologies are disseminated to the people.

“We would like to see the findings of any research undertaken being used by the people to improve their standards of living. It is the reason organizations and government invest funds in these studies,” said Kyakulaga who represented the fisheries state minister Hellen Adoa.

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