Nile Perch Farming in Iganga

Introduction 

Nile perch also referred to as capitaine mputa and sangara is a large fresh water fish found in the rivers and lakes of Africa. This giant fish which was introduced in 1953 now has become the dominant specie. According to Lake Victoria fisheries  organization, around 75% of the Nile perch harvested is exported contributing a USD 113 million in foreign earning “The Nile perch constitutes 90 per cent of the fish exports from the lake,” said Jonathan Munguti, the Head of the Aquaculture Division at the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI). Europe, US and Middle East are destination to this delicacy. Nile perch stock has been dwindling at an alarming rate, but scientists are out to arrest the situation. This has prompted government and its stakeholders such as Nagasaki and Maseno University to come with possibilities of enabling the rearing of the big fish either in the ponds or cages. It’s a new concept in the country. This delicacy which can grow to the weight of two mature men (200kg) and can feed on its nature and young ones. This frightens away most would be fish farmers.

How to carry out Nile perch fish farming in Uganda

Fish farming can be achieved in mainly two ways namely;

1. Traditional pond farming
2. Cage farming

Let’s discuss the processes involved:

Site selection
This mainly applies to traditional pond farming since the cage is already situated in the lake or river. Therefore under this section, the land topography should be generally flat and gently sloping. Soil quality should be clay, loam with very low pH for better water retention. Hydrology of the land; a constant, all year round, water supply is a must for your fish. If necessary a borehole should provide backup water especially in the dry season to enable your fish farm to operate all year round. Vegetation cover or shade; you may consider planting some trees to serve as shade for your fish. This will help reduce temperature, dust and avails a natural set up.

Pond structuring
Dig a pit 50-100m for medium size and put water. The water inflow should be equal to the out flow over a period of a month. In case of any imbalance, it may result into oxygen
depletion or algae and microorganism flush out.

Feeding
According to researchers, however, there are trials to encourage Nile Perch to get accustomed to eating other foods, other than fish. During its early stages, (one to three weeks) the perch feeds on microscopic water animals. These are very tiny organisms that live in water, but cannot be seen by the naked eye. From four weeks to two months, it feeds on aquatic insects like mosquitoes. After two months into adulthood, it feeds on small fish . Acquire the fishlets from the lake and transport them to the lake.

Cage Farming
In the cage aquaculture, the Nile perch is reared in enclosed spaces inside the lake of about 5 m by 4 m by 2m. The cages are built  using metal bars, wire mesh, and nets, with ordinary plastic cans to keep them afloat and to act as wave breakers. Normally, farmers place the cages strategically inside the lake, and feed the fish daily. But with the Nile perch’s carnivorous nature, they only need to find a way of attracting other smaller fish into the cage. One way to
doing this is by fitting the cages with lights. Since the Nile perch is bigger, their cages have nets that allow smaller fish from the surrounding to freely swim in and out.

Harvesting
On maturity, the Nile perch weighs about 5kgs and above. Its length averages about 121–137 cm.
Storage
Nile perch should be stored in a cool environment.

Market for Nile Perch
Market for the Nile perch and fish in general is readily available with a local consumption of 223000 tones every year and 17000 tones external

Challenges Encountered
Farmers in Uganda are experiencing the following:

In the long-run, cage farming may create new environmental challenges. These include the discharge of nutrients from the fish feed and excretions which could lead to changes in the ecosystem.

  • Farmed fish may also escape and interact with other fish in the wild which can spread disease and parasites.
  • These impacts can, in turn, decrease local catch of wild fish, creating a conflict between cage culture and fishermen. This is already a delicate situation because of competition over lake space.
  • Lack of access to credit facilities.
  • Lack of unions to produce a uniform voice thus end up fetching cheaper prices in the market.
  • Climate change

References

  • Balarin, J.D., 1985. National reviews for aquaculture development in Africa. 10. Uganda. FAO Fish. Circ., (770.10). Rome: FAO.
  • Crutchfield, J.A., 1959. Report on fish marketing in Uganda. FAO/59/3/1614. Rome: FAO.
    Kirema-Mukasa, C.T., 1990. Marketing and distribution aspects of Lake Victoria fisheries in Uganda. SEC Field Report No. 16,
  • FISHING Ntes and Records. Fisheries Statistics and Information Systems, FAO/UNDP Project UGA/87/007. (Paper presented at the Symposium on Socio-Economic Aspects of Lake Victoria Fisheries, Kisumu, Kenya, 24–27 April 1990.)
  • MAAF (Ministry of Animal Industry and Fisheries), 1983. Blueprint for fisheries development. Kampala, Uganda: MAAIF unn, I.G., 1989.
  • Fisheries management study in the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Mission report for EEC Project No.4100.037.42.44, Conservation of Natural Resources. Rome: AGRICONSULTING.