Monday, July 22, 2024
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Govt Asked To Support Silver Fish Trade

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By Charles Kakamwa

Fishermen dealing in silver cyprinid fish, locally known as mukene, want the Government to support them, saying despite its huge potential, they lag due to lack of proper handling facilities.

Under the Najja Development Association, the dealers 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 chairperson of the association which is 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 methods, especially on rainy days, which results in losses.

Bondyo hopes the Government’s intervention would not only enable the fishermen to increase their catch, but also dry large volumes 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 is overwhelming, but we need the assistance of the Government and development partners to be able to satisfy the market,” Bondyo said, adding that the association sold nine tonnes of mukene to Zimbabwe.

Bondyo was speaking on Friday at a meeting during which research findings on small fish in Lake Victoria were disseminated at Silver Springs Hotel in Bugolobi, Kampala.

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

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

Nkalubo said 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,” 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.

Minister speaks out

The state minister of agriculture, Fred Bwino Kyakulaga, challenged the National Agricultural Research Organisation and all other research institutes to ensure that research technologies are disseminated to the public.

“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 organisations and governments invest funds in these studies,” Kyakulaga said.

Photo caption: Dr Anthony Taabu Munyaho (second-left), the assistant executive secretary of the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation; Kyakulaga (wearing yellow shirt), Nkalubo (right) and other officials at Silver Spring Hotel in Bugolobi, Kampala recently

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