Fish farming can relieve pressure on lakes – experts
As the country marks the World Fisheries Day, there are reports of notable reduction in the amount of fish from the various water bodies. However, according to experts, if Ugandans practised more fish farming, then the wild fish in the water bodies would not be easily exhausted.
There are mainly two ways of practising fish farming in Uganda. The main one is the use of excavated ponds of varying sizes, while the second one is fish cage farming, which is practised on lakes and larger water dams.
Vincent Ssebutemba, however, uses ponds for his practice. Ssebutemba, a fish farmer in Nsangi.
“The biggest mistake farmers make is to try and do things without seeking expert advice,” Ssebutemba says.
He advises farmers to get knowledge from the various fisheries research institutes, for example, Kajjansi and Jinja or from experienced farmers.
A pond is a depression on the ground where water can be retained. Pond sizes differ from farmer to farmer. However, what should not change are the factors of location and depth.
“Most farmers think that every site where there is water, is suitable for pond construction, the water should be enough and able to flow by gravity. But some farmers construct a pond without inlets and outlets, this is wrong,” Ssebutemba says.
A pond should not be constructed in an area that floods whenever it rains. “If you do so, your fish will be swept away by floods,” he explains. Inlets and outlets help in movement of water into and out of the pond.
Ssebutemba adds: “Some are constructed with the wrong depth. Some have no proper water outlets and inlets and lack the recommended gradients.”
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Fish cannot survive under such conditions. “We advise that a farmer should carefully select a site which is suitable for pond construction,” he says.
It should have conditions like permanent source of water; the types of the soils should have some form of clay because clay holds water more than any other form of soil.
Ssebutemba emphasizes that the topography should offer the gravitation flow of water into and outside the pond because fish uses a lot of water and if the water is stagnant the production system will be affected. Stagnant water easily gets contaminated. The pond should have a depth of 1 metre towards the inlet and 1.2 metres towards the outlet. Very deep ponds are difficult during harvesting.
After ascertaining that the site has got all the requirements of a good fish pond, then the excavation starts. There are two ways of digging a pond.
Farmers with the means hire tractors to excavate the ponds. The average cost of using a tractor to construct a 10x20metre pond is sh6m. Smaller ponds cost less. A tractor takes a shorter time to accomplish the job, compared to manual labor.
The other means is using manual labor.
“I constructed my ponds at sh2m using casual labor from the village,” Ssebutemba says. This costs about sh4m, a tractor takes two to three days to excavate a pond, while human labour may take months.
The pond must be rectangular, because this makes it easy to maintain, especially when guarding it against silting.
“It is also easy to harvest fish from a rectangular pond than from a pond of any other shape because you can easily reach through all the corners. If several ponds are constructed, they should be parallel to each other, with water inlets on one side and water outlets on the other side.
“The trick is, no pond should receive water from the other pond because this can easily increase incidences of diseases,” Ssebutemba says. Farmers can prevent silting by planting holding grass like pasparum on the edges of the pond.
Stocked fish takes 8-10 months to gain a kilogramme.
A fish cage