By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/Umoja Standard.
Wakiso, Uganda: In an exclusive interview with Umoja Standard, Ofwono Godfrey, Director Kajjansi Aquaculture Services Centre (U) Ltd said that inputs required to carry out aquaculture business are expensive, much tax is imposed on them for example a tax of 18% is levied on concentrates and 10% on import duties, a total of 28% tax which demoralize fish farmers.
He said, for the last 8 months, a kilogram of fish feeds has increased by almost 1,000UGX but the market price for fish has remained constant.
Floating fish feeds supplied by Kajjansi Aquaculture Services Centre/Courtesy Photo.
Important to note.
According to Food and Agricultura Organization’s (FAO) Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile, Uganda,
Total capture production peaked at 461 500 tonnes in 2014, but decreased the following years to reach 389 600 tonnes in 2017.
Production recovered in 2019 to reach some 603 000 tonnes. During the last decade, catches of Nile perch, the most valued species, continued to decrease and, from the peak reached in 2005 (175 000 tonnes), was reported to be less than 74 000 tonnes in 2017.
Also for this important species, 2018 saw a recovery to 80 000 tonnes. In 2019, there were an estimated 43 293 undecked small boats of which 97 percent were less than 12 m total length.
Uganda is the second largest aquaculture producer in Sub-Saharan Africa after Nigeria. Aquaculture production in Uganda increased from just over 800 tonnes (2000) to 103 700 tonnes in 2019.
Production was mostly composed of Nile tilapia (69 percent) and catfishes (30 percent).
It is estimated that 153 000 Ugandans were involved in fisheries and aquaculture in 2019, of which 124 800 were engaged in inland waters fishing and 28 236 in fish farming.
Large quantities of smoked and sun-dried fish originating from Lake Victoria are traded, legally and illegally, into western Uganda and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In 2019, fish and fishery product exports were valued at USD 160 million, with the bulk destined to European countries and with Nile perch, mainly fillets, as the main species exported; 2019 imports were valued at USD 10 million. Uganda is thus a net exporter of fishery products.
Ofwono Godfrey, Director Kajjansi Aquaculture Services Centre (U) Ltd. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.
It is against this background that he sought government to subsidize inputs by reducing tax levied on them to enable farmers easily acquire them.
He noted that there is also need for the government to support companies that are indigenous and are aiming at helping farmers by producing good quality fish feeds, subsidize price on the concentrates and feeds that come into the country.
He added that research is very important and believed that if research institutions are supported by being in position to produce the Genetically Improved Farm Tilapia (GITF), it would be favorable as this has a very good feed conversion ratio and fast growth.
This means that if the fish grows very fast, the farmer is able to generate profits within a short period of time.
“We as Kajjansi Aquaculture Service Centre have now zeroed on production of locally formulated fish feeds which are of high quality and these are floating feeds at a low price in order to save farmers from importing floating fish feeds which are expensive”. Said Ofwono.
“Farmers should therefore not look far and purchase imported fish feeds which are expensive because of the taxes levied on them, we are now locally producing good quality fish feeds and affordable to our fish farmers”. He added.
Odongo revealed that the sub sector is facing a number of challenges like high cost of production citing that about 70% of cost of production go to feed the fish and therefore by the fact that the price of fish remains constant, then farmers do not reap a lot.
He stated that the sector face stiff competition from wild fish in that farmed fish press some expenditure on farmers there by raising their price which makes people opt for farmed fish whose price is low.
He also said that there is limited supply of farmed fish as most of it is exported to neighboring countries like Democratic Republic of Congo where the price is high compared to Ugandan market.
He also noted that they are grappling with the challenge of uncertified aquaculture technical person as some are not educated others could have run away from their companies prematurely and end up misleading farmers.
On the other hand, he advised farmers that before establishing sites for ponds, they should engage technical persons to conduct feasibility study at the site which entails size and designs of the pond which should be constructed.
He said this based on availability of water, soil type, security of the place and the topography of the area because any ideal site should have freely flowing water by gravity, clay soils for retention.
“It’s is also very vital to consider accessibility because when the place is easily accessible, one can get inputs such as feeds in time and market fish in time.
Then once all that is done, one is able to lay the ponds putting into consideration the flow of water from one point to another and which must be flowing by the force of gravity because if one uses pumped water, it is a cost and in a long run it affects one’s profit margin.
For cages, the proposed site should not be a place where other vessels use like boats. Not be a breeding ground of fish as it will be interfering with breeding of the fish, should not be having possibility of contamination from other areas, it could be factories when it rains or influence from factories end up going to the site.
It should not contravene with NEMA rule that’s why we advise that they involve NEMA before.
He argued the public to embrace fish farming as part of the items that can improve on productivity in agriculture.
“As we know that of all foods fish is the best as it contains proteins which are vital to human health.
He says that much as there are many challenges, KASC are doing their best to ensure farmers benefit from their venture, calls they to reach out for technical support.