In Summary
  • Capture fish farming is reportedly reducing in the country due to a number of challenges, including overfishing of the available species in the water bodies.
  • This has been substituted by aqua fish farming which is on the increase, writes Lominda Afedraru

Nasser Kasozi, the programme leader in charge of livestock and fisheries at Abi Zonal Agricultural Research Development Institute (Abi Zardi) in Arua, explaining the agronomy practices to be followed by farmers during the fish farmers symposium in Kampala recently said fish production by 2016 was reported to be 111,023 tonnes.

To increase on this tonnage, farmers are encouraged to take advantage of the rivers, streams, lakes, swamps which offer opportunity for fish farming by use of ponds or cages.

Assessment
For cage fish farming, farmers are expected to carry out site stability assessment by involving experts from National Agriculture Research Organisation (Naro). This involves studying the characteristic of water flow which should be stable for the fish to swim and fast flowing water should be avoided because the waves will sweep off fish species in the cage.

There should be enough dissolved oxygen for fish and Amonia plus Nitrates which are important for the growth of the fish. Farmers who do not observe this suffer loss.

Design
Farmers should design the cage with material suitable to the place. Using metallic material is appropriate and low density polyethylene woven fabrics can be used for caging the fish species.

It is a requirement to obtain licence from National Environment Management Authority, Directorate of Water Department and Ministry of Agriculture.

Once a farmer has constructed a cage, it should be stocked with suitable fingerlings weighing between 15 to 20 grammes.
The fish must be fed using quality feed twice a day. The feed must contain food nutrient such as carbohydrates, protein, minerals and vitamins.

It is advisable for farmers to harvest between six and eight months depending on management and they should be weighing between 600 to 800 grammes when harvesting. Most cage fish species breed is Tilapia.

Before setting up
For earth ponds farmers should look at suitability of the soil where the topography should be gentle sloping with a water source nearby.

The pond must have both an inlet and outlet to allow flow of water and each pond must have its own inlet and outlet.

After digging the pond, farmers are expected to apply lime which is mixed with water to kill parasites and improve on the soil structure. Fish is stocked after two weeks from application of lime. Feeding is important and farmers are expected to carry out routine sampling to check the health status of the fish.

Concrete fish tanks are good for farmers especially where there is no frequent water flow. It must contain water seepage for control of water flow and there should be a provision for aeration. Farmers who have small pieces of land are advised to practice fish farming using this method.

Getting aquaculture growth right

Here are approaches to help get aquaculture growth right:

Invest in technological innovation and transfer
Aquaculture is a young industry—decades behind that of livestock farming. Improvements in breeding technology, disease control, feeds and nutrition, and low-impact production systems are interlinked areas where science can complement traditional knowledge to improve efficiency. These sorts of innovations—whether led by farmers, research institutions, companies, or governments—have been behind productivity gains in every part of the world.

Focus beyond the farm
Most aquaculture regulations and certification schemes focus at the individual farm level. But having many producers in the same area can lead to cumulative environmental impacts—such as water pollution or fish diseases—even if everyone is following the law. Spatial planning and zoning can ensure that aquaculture operations stay within the surrounding ecosystem’s carrying capacity and can also lessen conflicts over resource use.

Leverage the latest information technology
Advances in satellite and mapping technology, ecological modeling, open data, and connectivity mean that global-level monitoring and planning systems that encourage sustainable aquaculture development may now be possible.

History of fish farming
It is reported that fish farming in Uganda started in 1953 with the establishment of experimental station at Aquaculture Research and Development Centre, Kajjansi.

Later farmers got engaged in aqua fish farming of different types ranging from cage fish farming, earth pond fish farming, use of concrete tanks and aquaponics an upcoming technology where farmers rare fish and grow plants using water from the pond which is recycled back using pipes.