By Hope Mafaranga
The king of Toro, Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV, has instructed his ministry of agriculture to ensure the development and promotion of fish farming among his subjects.
King Oyo, who was recently touring the Aquaculture Research and Development Centre (ARDC) in Kajjansi, Wakiso district, said Toro has many water bodies which should be used for fish production.
ARDC is a government owned facility, a branch of the Fisheries Resource Research Institute, in Jinja.
But, unlike the facility in Jinja, the one in Kajjansi focuses only on aquaculture. It is also a branch of the National Fisheries Resources Institute (NAFIRRI), which is a Public Agriculture Research Institute, under the National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO), responsible for fisheries research.
The centre undertakes studies in fish feeds, fish health, genetics, hatchery and market.
Oyo also toured fish ponds, greenhouses, breeding and nursery areas, as well as a feed mill plant. During the tour, he interacted with scientists from Uganda and China.
Oyo, who kept on asking the scientists questions about breeding, feeding, demand, research, market, production and ponds management, said he is kicking off the project in the kingdom with immediate effect.
King Oyo was accompanied by the kingdom’s minister of agriculture, David Sabiiti and Peter Birungi, the minister of education.
He said his region is endowed with many crater lakes, natural rivers and lakes that have not been utilised, adding that if developed, they will provide employment to the youth and improve household incomes.
The king said he has a group of youth who are interested in fish farming and the visit to the research centre was intended to give him a scientific idea about modern fish farming, which he said was a viable investment to the kingdom.
“We want the youth to start farming fish, backed by science and research so that they do not make mistakes,” he said.
Matthew Mwanja, one of the scientists who guided the king around the research centre, said the centre also offers extension services to fish farmers and pledged the centre’s commitment to supporting Toro in the venture.
Mwanja said fish farming is similar to the farming of any crop because people have to know the right fish and how to farm it.
He said the research they carry out on fish is demand based. Mujib Nkambo, a scientist, who took the king through the steps involved in fish farming, asked him to encourage his people to practice modern fish farming.
Nkambo said their efforts are geared towards curbing the dwindling stocks of fish in natural water bodies, adding that the sector employs 500,000 people directly, and more than 2.5 million people indirectly.
He also said they export 90,000 tonnes of fish every year, which earns the country $150m, while the region consumes 60,000 tonnes that bring in about $80m.
He asked the kingdom to embrace Semutundu, Kisinja and Ningu fish because they thrive better in Toro region, compared to other areas.