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$400,000 for Ugandan Fish Project

UGANDA - Two investors from Texas in the USA and New Zealand have established seven modern fish ponds in Kitangala sub-county, Nakasongola district in Uganda with the aim of boosting tilapia export.

"Ekitangaala Community Development Fish Farm Ltd (ECDFF) is one of the projects we support because it focuses on farming in a sustainable manner."
John Hamilton from the British High Commission

When production starts, Rand Blair, the managing director of Ekitangaala Fish Farms, and Robert Cook, of International Acquaculture (U) hope to export 250 tonnes of tilapia every year.

They will set up more fish ponds, bringing the total investment in the district to $400,000. In November, they intend to start harvesting fish from one of the ponds that was established in 2002.

"This is an income-generating project that we want residents to embrace. They are poor and cannot meet basic needs such as school fees for children and medicine," said Blair during the ceremony to commission the fish ponds in Ntuti village.

The fish project was commissioned by John Hamilton, the second secretary in charge of projects at the British High Commission (BHC). BHC donated sh22m as part of its small grants scheme towards the project.

Hamilton said BHC spends sh500m annually on several projects across the country.

"Ekitangaala Community Development Fish Farm Ltd (ECDFF) is one of the projects we support because it focuses on farming in a sustainable manner. It also focuses on generating income in order to support the community," said Hamilton.

Blair said they had put in place six fish ponds and stocked them with 40,000 tilapia fish fries.

"Uganda has the potential to become a leading exporter of fish and fish products on the continent," he said.

"We want to set up several fish ponds and train fish farmers countrywide," Blair said.

In 2005, Ekitangaala Fish Farms Ltd and International Aquaculture (U) Ltd formed a joint venture to engage in tilapia production.

"If we can start such income-generating activities, people's lives will change significantly. We are optimistic that in a few years to come, we will have solutions to people’s problems," said Cook.

Hamilton said there is a ready market for the fish and the proceeds would be used to support a community centre and clinic.

They are currently training Makarere University students and others from the Fisheries Research Institute (FIRRI).

Blair said plans were underway to extend solar power to the area to increase production.

Washington Latigo, the ECDFF fish manager, said in one month, they use 50 30-kg bags of chemically formulated sinking pilates to feed the fish. The pilates are rich in vitamins and the fish are said to mature in four to five months.

Blair said they would soon open up more ponds countrywide. “We have carried out a feasibility study in northern Uganda and in a few months, we will start off with the resettling communities in Kitgum, Apac, Pader, Pakwach and Gulu districts.