Fish farming in Uganda is profitable; however, it is only practised by few individuals who have the capital to buy the fish seeds commonly known as fry/fingerlings.
Fish farming needs professional guidance, training and monitoring, especially for beginners. Most farmers copy from others what to invest in without understanding what it takes to get the expected harvest.
In Uganda, few farmers are equipped with the knowledge and skills in fish farming. Some fisheries officers have little to say about fish farming, especially those that have spent time on landing sites with fishermen. Therefore, fisheries technicians or officers with much exposure to fish farming should be consulted in regard to fish farming. Organisations such as Kajjansi Research Centre and District Fisheries projects can provide good and practical information about fish farming. Avoiding fake fish experts is one way you can succeed in fish farming.
These fake fish experts have led to failure of most fish farmers. Identifying these fake experts is easy, as they provide services, request for their academic documents and referees from the institutions they attended.
Things to note
- Fish farming is one of the most profitable forms of farming in Uganda.
- Poor pond construction is the beginning of failure of fish farming.
- Poor water quality is due to poor farm management and poor pond construction. l Specific fish types reared; do well in different geographical areas.
- Poor quality fish seeds lead to poor growth rate and high mortality.
- Proper feeds are needed for faster fish growth.
- Supplementary feeding increases profits and reduces the growth period.
- Fake fish experts mislead and the result is unexpected harvest normally poor and disgusting.
- Farm the fish that is marketable locally.
Fish farming needs trainings and practical experience. The training is normally done before stocking the fish pond and more skills gained when rearing.
All farmers must know the behaviour of fish before involving themselves in fish farming alternatively they can employ trained personnel to manage their farms who can later train other farm staff.
Fish types and location Different fish species grow differently. For example, catfish and mirror carp gain weight more than tilapia in ponds Therefore, farmers are advised to rear a fish type that suits to the environment. For cold places like Kabale, Kapchorwa, Kasese and Kisoro districts, mirror carp is recommended since it grows well in cold areas. For warmer areas, catfish, tilapia and Nile perch are recommended Nile perch feeds on natural food like mukene, small tilapia and small water organisms. Therefore, managing it is quite complex.
Fish pond depth must also be designed to suit the area’s temperatures. When poorly designed, then rapid temperature changes will affect growth rate, hence poor yield and prolonged maturity period.
Fish farming as a business
A poorly-constructed pond is the beginning of failure in fish farming. In Uganda, most ponds approximately 98%, are constructed by unskilled people without any basic knowledge on pond construction. Therefore, this is an automatic failure in fish farming, this is because poorly constructed ponds do not provide a good environment for a fish’s growth.
Fish maturity period depends on many factors. Most farmers say it takes six months for the catfish to weigh one to two kilogrammes average” and others say; it takes more than a year to raise just a kilo of catfish.
Growth rate in fish farming normally depends on a number of factors, starting from the quality of fish fingerlings, pond nature, water quality management, the nutrient value in the feed, feed type, feeding rate, fish species, source of feed, stocking density, water source and the geographical location of the place.
In Egypt, Israel and China, fish takes few months to gain the weight we achieve in Uganda after 6-12 months yet they do not use magic feed but proper pond construction, good quality seeds, proper feeding, good water quality and a good supplementary feeding.
Feed should be given in small quantities several times a day in order for it to benefit from the nutrients in the feed.
Commitment to the farm
Most farmers are not committed to their fish farms. After stocking they abandon the farm. Up to date, some farmers believe fish feeds on water. This is not true. The fish farm must be treated with care just like any other farm/business.
Farmers should aim at locally available market first, commercial fish farmers can export or sale to industries within. Value addition is very important.
A kilo of fish costs about sh15,000 in local markets in Uganda. Value addition may raise the cost to up to sh20,000 per kilogramme.