The political conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has hit Ugandan fish farmers badly and that if the guns don’t fall silent, the situation might become worse for the fraternity.
According to Uganda Commercial Fish Farmers Association, Ugandan fish depots and shops were raided by rioters last Wednesday.
“We have so many challenges now, the Political instability mainly in Congo is affecting us. Last week rioters stole and destroyed our fish. We have started making losses in Goma because rioters are hunting for all the businesses owned by Ugandans and Rwanda,” Robert Osinde, the chairperson of Uganda Commercial Fish Farmers Association.
Osinde noted that Congo takes about 500 tonnes of what Uganda produces every month.
Unless the peace deal is struck and some reasonable stability is restored in Congo, the enormously lucrative market will remain a no go investment destination for majority of Ugandan exports.
“The Fish industry is still new and business is booming but we encounter so many challenges, twelve months back we were incurring $3300 to transport feeds from port Santos in Brazil to Mombasa and $3500 from Mombasa to Jinja.
Right now it cost us $8400 to transport feed from Brazil to Mombasa, it used to take 45-60 days to reach us, right now it takes between 90 to 120 days,” Osinde said.
During the EU-EAC true fish workshop farming story in the Lake Victoria basin workshop at Munyonyo, fish experts noted that they need to promote commercial fish farmer’s association and strengthen it to improve the productivity and sustainability of fish farming in East Africa.
Currently, all the fish farmers in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are importing fish from overseas countries like Brazil, Egypt and Zambia.
Speaking at the workshop, Dr Anthony Taabu-Munyaho, the Deputy Executive Secretary of East African Community Lake Victoria fisheries organisation, called upon fish farmers to desist from bringing new fish species into the lake but instead develop a genetic improved programme.
“With genetic improvement, we shall get fish with attributes of growing fast, cross them and produce fish that grows quickly, when you have fish that grows fast we shall use less feeds and when you have less feeds, your profit margins will go up. We are planning to cross-breed Tilapia and cut fish,” Dr Taabu said.
Dr Taabu also noted that Ugandan fish farmers should focus on investing in feeds because Uganda has a surplus of maize and Soya that contributes majorly to the feeds.
In the East African region, Uganda is currently leading in fish farming as currently, the Country produces 60,000 tunnels of fish production per annum.
In his speech, Dr Nazel Amos Madalla, the director of aquaculture in the ministry of livestock and fisheries in Tanzania, said that different governments need to come up with policies that monitor fishermen engaged in cage fish farming near Lake Victoria to avoid polluting the water body.
Cage fish farming is a type of rearing aquatic animals by confining them in large specific enclosures using nylon nets, sometimes rigged by metallic or plastic pipes.
“Our people have started farming fish near the lake but they need to know particularly which areas to see that their farming does not affect any activities. Fish farmers need a lot of support from government to transform most of them from substance to commercial,” Madalla said.
Experts in fish farming have therefore recommended that embracing cage fish farming is the way to go because it enables higher quantities to be harvested compared to capture fishing.