By David Ssempijja
THE eastern region will be turned into a fish farming zone. The move is aimed at eradicating poverty through full utilisation the areaâ€™s water resources.
â€œThe Government will help farmers in various regions, but each region has to concentrate on a farming activity in which it has a comparative advantage to qualify,â€ said Fred Mukisa, the fisheries state minister.
The east is endowed with a lot of underground water and a large number of the population in the region lives along the shores of Lake Victoria.
Mukisa was speaking at the commissioning of the Last Chance Fish Farm Project at Kigandaalo sub-county headquarters in Mayuge last week. The project is a community-based fish farmersâ€™ group with 300 members.
â€œThe economy will suffer if people near water bodies can no longer carry out economic fishing because of the reduced catches from the lakes and rivers. This is why we have to stimulate large-scale commercial fish farming,â€ the minister explained.
Mukisa disclosed that the Government would give farmers fingerlings and equipment to excavate ponds, appropriate technology and also train personnel before the programme starts early next year.
Mayuge, Bugiri, Butaleja, Iganga, Sironko and Manafwa distritcs will be the projectâ€™s initial beneficiaries. Some farmers would be trained locally, while others would undergo training in Egypt, the minister added.
Egypt is Africaâ€™s role model in fish farming. It produces 0.6 million tonnes of farmed fish annually compared with Ugandaâ€™s 0.5 million tonnes of both wild and farmed fish.
The Government, the minister said, has completed the construction of 10 out of the 30 coldrooms proposed for different landing sites across the country. Each coldroom has the capacity of handling over 5.5 tonnes per day.
Samson Higenyi, the Last Chance Fish Farm director, said fish farming would eradicate household poverty and improve nutrition.
Ugandaâ€™s fish industry employs over 500,000 people directly and contributes to the livelihood of nearly 1.5 million people in the country.