A fish farmers' cooperative has called upon government to bail out the struggling sector.
Walimi Fish Cooperative Society Limited (WAFICOS), with close to 390 members, hopes that government can assist the organization access fish feeds and better cooling services so as to expand output. Speaking at the 6th annual symposium of WAFICOS, the chairperson, Theodora Hyuha, called upon government to ease the burden of famers in accessing inputs for the growth of the industry.
"Government should consider waiving taxes on inputs such fish feeds as the members continue to find it hard to expand."
WAFICOS has found it difficult to access enough fish feeds due to the monopoly of the sale of fish feeds within the country, and the high cost of importing feeds.
"Close to 80% of the fish farming involves feeding fish. Members who try to import fish feeds find it expensive."
WAFICOS started in 2004 as a fish farmer's cooperative that collectively markets local fish within the country for its members. The cooperative is under the Uganda Cooperative Alliance (UCA). The cooperative wants the fishing sector allocated more allocation from the national budget.
"The national budget for the year 2012/13 largely focused on ensuring food security within the country; however, it favoured crop production so as to enhance exports. Programmes such as the National Agricultural Advisory Services (Naads) have crop production and animal rearing. However there is a global demand for fish as a substitute for non-red meat that government should tap into," said Hyuha.
According to 2012 findings by a Food and Agriculture Organization report titled "The state of the world Fisheries and Aquaculture," Uganda continues to be one of the leading exporters of fish in Africa, producing 95,000 tons of fish as of 2010, behind Egypt and Nigeria. Nevertheless, the Fisheries department continues to report dwindling statistics especially the declining stock of Nile Perch. Illegal fishing has also persisted.
WAFICOS reveals that fish farmers within the country are estimated at 8,000, and that there are roughly 20,000 ponds. It also adds that the ponds might not meet the demand, which is expected to reach 320,000kg annually by 2015. WAFICOS hopes to establish better links and partnerships within East Africa in order to introduce its members to bigger markets.