The Government has started implementing a programme that will require all smaller holder aquaculture farmers in the country to belong to a co-operative union.
The Uganda Aquaculture Cooperative Union is intended to promote best management practices and expansion of the aquaculture sub-sector, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries (MAAIF) said in a statement on Saturday.
According to MAAIF, the extension services for aquaculture will be enhanced through the development of new and appropriate private extension provisions.
The programme is also intended at enhancing the country’s fisheries sector adaption to climate change.
The programme will be supported by European Union.
MAAIF explained that the co-operative union will also enable the Government and partners in the sub-sector to assess and support restructuring and reorganising of existing formal and informal producer organisations to engage in aquaculture as a business.
Some of the districts to benefit from the program include Amuru, Apac, Gulu, Lira, Omoro, Oyam, Arua, Packwach, Nebbi and Koboko.
Others are Mpigi, Lwengo, Luwero, Kalangala, Masaka, Mukono, Budaka, Butaleja, Iganga, Busia, Pallisa Ibanda, Bushenyi, Kabale, Kisoro, Mbarara, Mitooma, Rukungiri, Kanungu, Ntungamo Hoima, Kasese and Kyegegwa.
“Through the project, farmers have undertaken formation, registration and capacity building of 6 regional cooperative unions, one for each region,” the ministry said.
“These include the Northern Regional Aquaculture Cooperative Union Ltd for the Northern region, West Nile Aquaculture Cooperative Union Ltd for the North-western, Central Regional Aquaculture Cooperative Union Ltd for Central, Elgon Nile Aquaculture Cooperative Union Ltd.”
MAAIF added that farmers and regional unions, which will be organised under the country level cooperative union, will also contribute to organisation of people in the sub-sector to benefit from the Agro-industrialisation Programme, NDP111 and the Parish Development Model (PDM).
Uganda produces up to 15,000 tonnes of fish from aquaculture, including production from small-scale fish farmers, emerging commercial fish farmers and stocked community water reservoirs and minor lakes, according to statistics from Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
There are an estimated 20,000 ponds throughout the country with an average surface area of 500 m² per pond.