Assessment of National Aquaculture Policies and Programmes in Uganda

Technical Report (PDF Available) · June 2009with 991 Reads
Report number: 213143, Affiliation: SARNISSA: Sustainable Aquaculture Research Networks in Sub Saharan Africa
Cite this publication
The SARNISSA project aims to build a sustainable aquaculture research network with afocus on Sub-Saharan Africa with the objective of empowering quaculture stakeholders, to contribute to sustainable aquaculture development across the region and enhance knowledgeexchange in aquaculture. The project is in a process of implementing a review of national policies and programmes regarding aquaculture in the Sub-Saharan Africa Region that involves all stakeholders. A review study was done for Uganda on aquaculture national policies, sector policies as well as programmes involving interviews with key persons responsible for the formulation and implementation of various policies, plans and programmes. This paper has revealed the Strengths and Weaknesses of these existing national policies, plans and programmes on aquaculture. Results indicate that the natural resource potential for aquaculture in Uganda is favorable and fish farming can therefore, be undertaken across most of the country. Uganda’s first objective for aquaculture was nutrition. Years later, the overall national development goals were food security and poverty alleviation thereby shifting farmers’ objectives to gaining an income from fish farming. Currently these development goals are defined in the ‘Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture’. Most of aquaculture in Uganda is done in ponds, the average size 500m2. The current estimated number of ponds is over 15,000. Fish production in cages and tanks has also been started. The country has individual, cooperate and company owned fish farms and hatcheries for mostly tilapia and catfish. These are located around the country and supply seed, table fish and broodstock. Commercial feeds are now available in the country and a number of business have also started supplying aquaculture inputs. The market for farmed fish products has been mainly farmer to consumer but commercial farming has seen processors buy table size fish from farmers to process for the regional market for over US$3 per kg. Hatcheries likewise serve farmers and the bait market whose demand is over 300 million fingerlings/year around Lake Victoria. Aquaculture in Uganda has a range of significant actors. The central government sets up policies for aquaculture, development frameworks and strategies and well as the legal and institutional framework for implementation. International agencies provide mainly financial and technical support to the central government and its institutions. Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO) is now setting and harmonizing regional policy on fisheries and aquaculture for East Africa. Local governments provide technical services to farmers and coordinate national project activities. National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) and National Agricultural Advisory Services (National Agricultural Advisory Services) undertake research and technology dissemination respectively. Non government organizations (NGO), Community based organisations (CBO), Tertiary institutions and private companies are also stakeholders in Uganda’s aquaculture. The country has a fisheries policy which outlines aquaculture in general terms but it also has institutional frameworks, plans and programmes under which aquaculture falls, notably; the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) and the Plan for Modernization of Agriculture (PMA) which houses the National Agricultural Advisory Services. There are several other policies, programmes and plans relating to different aspects of aquaculture derived from and based upon the basic principles aimed at poverty eradication but these cannot replace the need for an independent aquaculture policy. In summary, there is need for a specific aquaculture policy for Uganda with clear implementation frameworks and strategies.
EC FP7 Project Contract number: 213143
SARNISSA: Sustainable Aquaculture Research Networks in Sub Saharan Africa
Start Date: February 1
2008 Duration: 36 months
Title: Assessment of National Aquaculture Policies and
Programmes in Uganda
Author(s): Nelly Isyagi, Gertrude Atukunda, Lucy Aliguma,
Maurice Ssebisubi, Walakira John, Godfrey
Kubiriza and Emmanuel Mbulameri.
EAGO Consultants, Uganda.
Date of Publication: June 2009
Author contact address: Email
Project website address:
Keywords : Aquaculture, Policy, Review, Uganda.
1. This document is one of a series of 10 sub Saharan African analytical in-
country aquaculture policy reviews produced by the SARNISSA project in
2009. All of these reviews can be viewed and downloaded from the website.
2. The views and opinions stated in this review are those of the authors and not
necessarily those of the SARNISSA project or the EC.
TITLE : Sustainable Aquaculture Research Networks in Sub Saharan Africa
Institute of Aquaculture
Dr Little, David
E Mail:
TEL :44-1786-467923
FAX : 44-1786-472133
Dept PERSYST/UR Aquaculture
BP. 5095 TA B – 20 /01, Montpellier Cedex 1, 34033,
Dr Jérôme Lazard
Tel. + 33-4-67046365
Fax + 33-4-67635795
IITA Humid Forest Center BP, 2008 (MESSA),
Yaounde 11278
Dr Randy Brummett
Tel. + 237-2237-434
Fax +237-2237-437
Nosworthy Way,
OX10 8DE
United Kingdom
Dr Gareth Richards
Tel. +44-1491-829442
Fax +44-1491-833508
58 Moo 9 KM4L, Paholythin, Highway Klong Nueng,
Klong Luang, Pathumthani 12120, Thailand
Ram C. Bhujel
Tel. +66 02 524 5472
Fax +66 02 524 6200
Bunda College, Lilongwe,
Box 219, Malawi
Dr Emmanuel Kaunda
Tel. + 265-1-277-240
Fax +265-1-277-364
IRAD, BP 2067/2123 Yaounde, Cameroon
Dr Victor Pouomogne
Tel. + 237-22-23-3538
Fax +237-22-22-3362
Kastanjelaan 5, Leusden, 3833AN,
Moi University
PO Box 3900
Marielle Dubbeling
Tel. + 33-565-741951
Fax + 31-33-4940791
Dr Charles Ngugi
Tel: +254-53-2063111/2, 63206
Fax: +254-53-2063206, 63257
Executive Summary
The SARNISSA project aims to build a sustainable aquaculture research network with a
focus on Sub-Saharan Africa with the objective of empowering aquaculture stakeholders, to
contribute to sustainable aquaculture development across the region and enhance knowledge
exchange in aquaculture.
The project is in a process of implementing a review of national policies and programmes
regarding aquaculture in the Sub-Saharan Africa Region that involves all stakeholders.
A review study was done for Uganda on aquaculture national policies, sector policies as
well as programmes involving interviews with key persons responsible for the formulation
and implementation of various policies, plans and programmes. This paper has revealed the
Strengths and Weaknesses of these existing national policies, plans and programmes on
Results indicate that the natural resource potential for aquaculture in Uganda is favorable
and fish farming can therefore, be undertaken across most of the country.
Uganda’s first objective for aquaculture was nutrition. Years later, the overall national
development goals were food security and poverty alleviation thereby shifting farmers’
objectives to gaining an income from fish farming. Currently these development goals are
defined in the ‘Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture’.
Most of aquaculture in Uganda is done in ponds, the average size 500m
. The current
estimated number of ponds is over 15,000. Fish production in cages and tanks has also been
started. The country has individual, cooperate and company owned fish farms and hatcheries
for mostly tilapia and catfish. These are located around the country and supply seed, table fish
and broodstock. Commercial feeds are now available in the country and a number of business
have also started supplying aquaculture inputs.
The market for farmed fish products has been mainly farmer to consumer but commercial
farming has seen processors buy table size fish from farmers to process for the regional
market for over US$3 per kg. Hatcheries likewise serve farmers and the bait market whose
demand is over 300 million fingerlings/year around Lake Victoria.
Aquaculture in Uganda has a range of significant actors. The central government sets up
policies for aquaculture, development frameworks and strategies and well as the legal and
institutional framework for implementation. International agencies provide mainly financial
and technical support to the central government and its institutions. Lake Victoria Fisheries
Organisation (LVFO) is now setting and harmonizing regional policy on fisheries and
aquaculture for East Africa. Local governments provide technical services to farmers and
coordinate national project activities. National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO)
and National Agricultural Advisory Services (National Agricultural Advisory Services)
undertake research and technology dissemination respectively. Non government organizations
(NGO), Community based organisations (CBO), Tertiary institutions and private companies
are also stakeholders in Uganda’s aquaculture.
The country has a fisheries policy which outlines aquaculture in general terms but it also
has institutional frameworks, plans and programmes under which aquaculture falls, notably;
the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) and the Plan for Modernization of Agriculture
(PMA) which houses the National Agricultural Advisory Services.
There are several other policies, programmes and plans relating to different aspects of
aquaculture derived from and based upon the basic principles aimed at poverty eradication but
these cannot replace the need for an independent aquaculture policy.
In summary, there is need for a specific aquaculture policy for Uganda with clear
implementation frameworks and strategies.
Table of Contents
Executive Summary ....................................................................................................... iv
Table of Contents ........................................................................................................... vi
List of Tables ................................................................................................................ vii
List of Figures ............................................................................................................... vii
List of Acronyms.......................................................................................................... viii
1.0. Background ........................................................................................................... 1
1.1. Objectives of Study ................................................................................................ 1
2.0. Methodology ......................................................................................................... 2
2.1. The conceptual framework ...................................................................................... 2
2.2. Methods Used ......................................................................................................... 2
2.3. Data Analysis ......................................................................................................... 3
3.0. Description of the Characteristics of the Aquaculture Sector in Uganda........... 5
3.1. The Aquaculture Farming Systems ......................................................................... 7
3.2. Actors in the Sector .............................................................................................. 26
3.3. Impacts of Aquaculture ......................................................................................... 31
4.0. Description of the Current Institutional Frameworks, Policies, Plans and
Programmes on Rural, Peri-Urban and Urban Aquaculture ........................... 37
4.1. The Fisheries Policy ............................................................................................. 37
4.2. National Institutional Frameworks ........................................................................ 41
5.0. Strengths and Weaknesses of Existing National Policies, Plans and
Programmes on Aquaculture ........................................................................... 50
6.0. Opportunities and Proposals for the Improvement of Existing Policies,
Plans and Programmes ................................................................................. 58
7.0. Restrictions and Opportunities Contained in Other Sectoral Policies, Plans
and Programmes; Possibilities for harmonisation ............................................ 59
8.0. Gaps, Needs and Priorities for a Future National Research and
Development Agenda on Aquaculture ............................................................... 61
References ..................................................................................................................... 68
List of Tables
Table 2.1: Major locations where interviews were conducted. ........................................ 2
Table 2.2: Number of Stakeholder Interviews Conducted ................................................ 3
Table 3.1: Major Sources of Aquaculture Inputs for Farmers ......................................... 14
Table 3.2: Major Private Fish Hatcheries. ..................................................................... 16
Table 3.3: Fish Demand For Bait Production ................................................................ 18
Table 3.4: Potential Feed Demand For Uganda ............................................................. 18
Table 3.5: Definitions of Size Categories Used for Table Fish ....................................... 20
Table 3.6: Typical Total Variable Cost Structure (%) for Grow-Out Operations ............ 25
Table 3.7. Feed Costs ................................................................................................... 25
Table 3.8: Aquaculture projects over the years and their objectives. .............................. 27
Table 3.9: Aquaculture Farmer Field Schools ............................................................... 30
Table 4.1: Policy Analysis (Fisheries Policy) ................................................................. 37
Table 4.2: Strengths and weaknesses identified in the national policies, plans and
programmes, on aquaculture .......................................................................... 50
List of Figures
Figure 3.1: Map of Uganda showing Districts as in 2008. .............................................. 6
Figure 3.2: Number of operational fish ponds over the years ......................................... 9
Figure 3.3: Aquaculture yield (metric tons) over the years. .......................................... 13
Figure 3.4: Market Chains for Fish Fingerlings ............................................................. 20
Figure 3.5: Market Chains for Catfish Bait .................................................................... 20
Figure 3.6: Market Chains for Table size Tilapia .......................................................... 22
Figure 3.7: Market Chains for Table size Catfish .......................................................... 22
Figure 3.8: Distribution of major market outlets for table size Catfish. ......................... 23
Figure 3.9: Distribution of major market outlets for table size Tilapia. .......................... 23
Figure 3.10: Major product categories of Table Size Catfish as sold from farms ........... 24
Figure 3.11: Major product categories of Table Size Tilapia as sold from farms ........... 24
Figure 3.12: General Illustrations of Roles of the Different Actors and their Major
Linkages ................................................................................................... 26
Figure 8.1: Appropriate interaction between aquaculture stakeholders .......................... 64
APPENDIX I: Check List used for Stakeholder Interviews ............................................ 71
APPENDIX II: Names and Contacts of People interviewed ........................................... 72
APPENDIX III: Contact Details of fish Hatcheries ....................................................... 75
APPENDIX IV: Web Details of Cited Institutions and Organisations ............................ 77
APPENDIX V: Contact Details of Cited Farmers’ Groups ............................................ 78
APPENDIX VI: The Research Team ............................................................................. 79
List of Acronyms
ARDC Aquaculture Research and Development Center
ARTP Agricultural Research and Training Project
CBO Community Based Organization
DANIDA Danish International Development Assistance
DFID Department for International Development
DFR Department of Fisheries Resources
EU European Union
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GoU Government of Uganda
HARE Headstart Agricultural Research and Extension
LVEMP Lake Victoria Environment Management Project
MAAIF Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries
MAPS Marketing and Agro-processing Strategy
MFIs Micro Finance Institutions
MFPED Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development
MSMEs Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises
MTTI Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry
NAADS National Agricultural Advisory Services
NARS National Agricultural Research System
NARO National Agricultural Research Organization
NEPAD New Partnership for Africa’s Development
NES National Export Strategy
NGO Non Governmental Organization
PEAP Poverty Eradication Action Plan
PMA Plan for Modernization of Agriculture
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
USAID United States Agency for International Development
1.0. Background
The SARNISSA project aims at building a sustainable aquaculture research network
between Europe and Africa, with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. The research
network will contribute to knowledge-based aquaculture development, building on an
existing knowledge platform, the ‘Aquaculture Compendium’. SARNISSA is a
consortium of 8 project partners mainly from Africa and Europe namely; Institute of
Aquaculture, University of Stirling (co-ordinator UK), CIRAD (France), World Fish
Center (Egypt), CABI (UK), Asian Institute of Technology (Thailand), Bunda
College of Agriculture (Malawi), IRAD (Cameroon), and ETC Foundation (The
The overall objectives of SARNISSA are:
1. To empower aquaculture stakeholders, from researchers to end users across
Sub-Saharan Africa, to contribute and collaborate within and across
disciplines and country boundaries to form new research alliances and
activities focusing on sustainable aquaculture development across the region.
2. Enhancement of knowledge exchange in aquaculture research and
development between a range of stakeholders – not only academic research
institutions but also commercial small and medium enterprises (SMEs),
government, non-government organizations (NGOs).
To achieve its objectives, the project will work with the entire range of relevant
stakeholder groups, including academic research institutions, the SME sector,
government, NGOs, community-based organizations and farmers associations, with
links to small-scale fish farmers.
As one of its activities, the project will implement a review of national policies and
programmes regarding aquaculture. The specific purpose of the above mentioned
study therefore, is to obtain background information from participating countries (of
which Uganda is one) that will enable SARNISSA to identify the needs and priorities
for a future policy, research and development agenda, guiding the implementation of
relevant projects that will in the long run help build viable and sustainable aquaculture
development and research networks in the Sub-Saharan Africa Region that involve all
1.1. Objectives of Study
The specific objectives of undertaking this study were;
1. To produce an analytical overview of aquaculture development in Uganda in
relation to past and present policy, planning, projects by government, NGO,
research, commercial and other sectors.
2. To review existing policy measures, plans or programmes that are currently
working well, as well as those that are not.
3. To determine the possibilities of enhancing and improving the implementation
of existing policies and programmes.
4. To identify any inconsistencies regarding aquaculture and other sector policies
as well as of opportunities to integrate aquaculture better into these sector
5. To identify the gaps, needs and priorities for future national research and
2.0. Methodology
2.1. The conceptual framework
The study was mainly analytical, descriptive and qualitative in nature.
2.2. Methods Used
The methods used to collect data were mainly literature review and key informant
2.2.1. Literature review
Literature on aquaculture national policies and sector policies as well as programmes
was reviewed. Information was obtained from various sources including internet
search, Uganda’s institutional libraries (such as Ministry of Agriculture Animal
Industry and Fisheries, MAAIF), tertiary institutions, the National Agricultural
Research Organization (NARO), among others with a view to obtain information on:
1. the current aquaculture farming systems in the country,
2. main organizations involved in aquaculture,
3. research and development projects,
4. main academic programmes,
5. current government frameworks, policies, strategic plans and programs.
2.2.2. Key informant interviews
Non-structured key informant interviews were carried out with key persons
responsible for the implementation of various policies, plans and programmes related
to aquaculture in Uganda. Interviewers were qualified aquaculturalists and were first
trained on how to conduct the interviews. The geographical location of the identified
key stakeholders interviewed was also taken into account, notably rural, peri-urban
and urban. Consequently interviews were carried out in the following areas shown in
Table 2.1 and Figure 3.1:
Table 2.1: Major locations where interviews were conducted.
District Setting
Wakiso Urban and Peri-urban
Mukono Peri-urban and Rural
Iganga Rural
Jinja Urban
Pallisa Rural
The checklist used to guide the interviews conducted was drawn up based on the
recommendations of the Terms of Reference in lieu of the objectives of the study (see
appendix 1). The stakeholders interviewed included farmers, researchers, NGOs,
extension personnel, sectoral service providers and the market sector. Choice was
based on their experiences, observations and opinions of the current policies, plans
and programmes on their impact on the performance and development of the
aquaculture sector. Interviews aimed at getting information on:
1. the experiences of implementing personnel as well as organizations,
2. the financial, technical and institutional challenges associated with executing
their mandates,
3. current and previous interventions executed or in place, as well as their
4. views on the status and performance of policies pertaining to aquaculture
development and performance
5. general comments and recommendations among others.
Where interviewees had a list of responses pertaining to a certain issue, they were
asked to score their responses in order of importance and give reasons for their
A total of 32 respondents categorized as shown in Table 2.2 below were interviewed.
Interviewees were placed in these categories based on their institutions primary
mandate and major activity area. In the majority of cases however, there was
involvement in more than one of the major roles.
Table 2.2: Number of Stakeholder Interviews Conducted
Major Sectoral
Role of
Location Domain Total
Rural Peri-
Urban Urban Public
Policy Maker
2 7 8 1 9
5 6 7 4 11
2 5 5 3 7 2 12
Total Number
2 12 18 32
2.3. Data Analysis
The data obtained was analyzed in a qualitative and descriptive manner in view of the
1. The concept of sustainable aquaculture which for this study was defined as
‘An adaptable aquaculture production technology system whose ecological
and economic viability persists indefinitely’ (Schmittou et al., 1998).
2. Stakeholders’ perceptions of the performance of the current policies, plans
and programmes in view of current and potential aquaculture production
performance and impact on livelihoods.
3. Stakeholders’ experiences, observations and opinions on issues arising that:
a. Affected the performance of the existing policies and programs and the
manner in which they did so.
b. Offered possibilities that would enhance the implementation of
existing policies and programmes.
c. Resulted in inconsistencies in current policy frameworks measures,
plans and programmes or specific aspects of these thereof that either
directly or indirectly affected aquaculture
d. Enabled certain policies, measures, plans and programmes or specific
aspects of these thereof, that resulted into positive results, as well as
those that did not.
e. Indicated the gaps, needs and priorities for future national research and
development in order for sustainable aquaculture development to be
achieved in the country.
Following this analysis, the main shortcomings in the existing national policies, plans
and programmes on aquaculture and policy recommendations were derived.
3.0. Description of the Characteristics of the Aquaculture Sector in
The natural resource potential for aquaculture in Uganda is considered favorable.
Uganda has a total surface area of 241,000 km
of which 18 % is covered by water in
the form of lakes, rivers and swamps (Isyagi, 2001). The southern part of the country
has two rainy seasons while the drier part in the North Eastern part has one. The
national average precipitation is 1,000 mm rainfall per annum. The wetter planes of
the country along the equator have a soil water surplus year round. The country lies
between latitudes 1
South and 3
North, and longitudes 30
East and 35
Excluding the mountain ranges, the average altitude of the country is 1,100m above
sea level. Air temperature ranges from 16
C to 30
C. Air temperature and day-length
fluctuations are low which permits year round fish growth (Balarin, 1985; Anquila-
Manjarezz and Nath, 1998).
The geography shows that fish farming can be undertaken across most of the country.
According to a FAO Country Report (2005), Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture,
Animal Industry and Fisheries has identified 31 districts as suitable for fisheries
and/or aquaculture development based on both natural and socio-economic factors.
These districts are located around the country’s major water systems, notably the
Lake Victoria Crescent, Lake Kyoga Basin, Rive Nile Catchment, Edward-George
complex and the Koki Lakes (see Figure 3.1).
Most of those interviewed however including; policy makers, farmers as well as other
service providers claimed to have no knowledge of aquaculture zoning. Likewise, this
information is not in any of the major local level documents providing a framework
for aquaculture development planning.
Figure 3.1: Map of Uganda showing Districts as in 2008. Interviews were conducted
in the coloured districts.
*Districts (31) mentioned in FAO (2005) as suitable for aquaculture.
(Map Adapted from Uganda Districts Information Handbook, 2008)
The major Urban districts are Kampala, Wakiso, Jinja, Mbarara and Mbale
Districts mentioned suitable
for Aquaculture*
Aquaculture Research
Development Centre
Respondent Districts
Sironko Bukwa
Kabarole Kyenjojo
Ibanda Kiruhura
3.1. The Aquaculture Production Systems
3.1.1. Objectives for Aquaculture Development National Objectives
The farming of fish for food was first started in Uganda in 1953 (Balarin, 1985). At
about this time, there were high levels of kwashiorkor among children in the Central
(Buganda) Region. Fish farming was therefore introduced by the Fisheries and Game
Department as a means of providing cheap animal protein that could easily be
accessible to rural subsistence households. It was also seen as a means of increasing
the availability of fresh fish to communities that lived a distance from the country’s
natural water bodies. Supplementing family nutritional needs was the key concern.
The Fisheries Experimental Station (now the Aquaculture Research and Development
Center) was therefore established in 1953 so as to develop appropriate low-budget
production technology that could be undertaken by subsistence rural households to
produce fish as a dietary supplement (Balarin, 1985, Owori, 2001, Isyagi, 2001).
After independence (1962), meeting nutritional needs remained among the primary
objectives. Household food security, remained the main objective for a while as rural
farmers continued to earn reasonable income from cash crops, notably coffee, cotton,
tea and tobacco. Towards the 70s however, the possibility of farmers earning income
from fish farming became important. The first detailed economic appraisal of fish
farming practices was undertaken by Apostolski in 1967 (Isyagi, 2001).
The relative importance of income as an objective gained prominence in the 1980s
when government’s overall national development goals were food security and
poverty alleviation. The late 1980s were also a period of national recovery as much
of the country’s economic infrastructure had been destroyed during the years of
insecurity (that took place from mid-1970s to mid-1980s). In addition, during that
time, world commodity prices for Uganda’s key exports (coffee, cotton, tea) started to
decline and there was need to diversify sources of income for the country and its
people. The government also had limited resources available to it, to rebuild the
Consequently, from the 1990s, privatisation and liberalisation were seen as the most
viable options for mobilizing capital for development. The nation’s overall
development objective changed to eradicating poverty. It was envisaged that this
would best be accomplished by developing agricultural sector because 90% of
Ugandans earned their income through some form of agriculture. This led to the
formulation of country’s overall framework for development, the Poverty Eradication
Action Plan (PEAP), which has 7 principles. One of these principles concerns
agricultural development which is detailed in the ‘Plan for Modernisation of
Agriculture’ (PMA) whose implementation started in 2002. The goals were to
transform agriculture (thus aquaculture) into a viable option for income, gainful rural
employment and food security in that order. Providing food security ceased to be the
first objective for undertaking agriculture as increasingly (including in rural the
areas), one’s ability to purchase food items from local markets became the key issue
in assuring food security for the majority of Ugandans (MFPED, 2000, Bahiigwa,
Currently, the country’s development goals are defined by the PMA. Farmers Objectives
Up to the 1970s, most of Uganda’s rural farmers were able to produce for themselves
adequate amounts of food. They were also able to earn enough to meet their basic
needs from the cash crops and livestock they produced.
However, an increase in the population, reduced size of land holdings, reduced ability
of government to provide grants and other support to farmers as well as a general
decline in agricultural productivity and commodity prices required that land had to be
used more productively and rural farmers had to earn more to meet their basic needs
(Bahiigwa, 1999). Free services and inputs from government largely ceased with its
privatisation and liberalisation policy. Farmers therefore, started looking at potential
earnings (be it on-farm or off-farm) from an activity as the major incentive for
investing in any undertaking. The economic viability of aquaculture is now therefore
of paramount importance to farmers, be they small rural farmers or large peri-urban
farmers. More farmers now want to produce for the market, as they must be in
position to at the very minimum recover their investment costs, with a profit.
3.1.2. Production Facilities
Earthen Ponds: The primary production unit used in fish farming in Uganda is the
earthen pond. The ponds tend to be shallow with an average water depth of less than
50 cm. Pond sizes vary from less than 100 m
to about 6,000 m
. Progressively as
more farmers engage largely for economic purposes, numbers (Figure 3.2) and sizes
of ponds being constructed per farmer has progressively has increased. The nation
average pond area of 40 m
in the 1960s was about 300 m
in 2000 (NARO-MAAIF,
2000). Government statistics however quote the average pond size in the country as
being 500 m
(FAO, 2005) but there no available national figures for 2008/9.
Figure 3.2: Number of operational fish ponds over the years
Sources of data: b-Balarin (1985), f-FAO (2005), m-MAAIF (2002), n-Kajjansi
Aquaculture Research and Development Center, 2000. (Missing bars are a result of
missing national data for that particular year).
Among the factors that influence farmers’ decisions on pond size are
recommendations by extension staff, land size and availability of labour for
construction (Isyagi, 2007). An aquaculture handbook distributed by National
Agricultural Advisory Services (National Agricultural Advisory Services) indicates to
farmers that “the larger the pond the more commercial it becomes” (National
Agricultural Advisory Services, 2005).
The quality of pond construction is generally also poor.
Tanks: Until the 1990s, tanks were found on government facilities such as fry
centers and were largely used for holding fish. In the nineties, tanks were introduced
for the intensive grow-out production of the European Eel, Anguilla anguilla on a
private farm (Isyagi, 2001). Currently fish tanks are largely used by the catfish
hatcheries for rearing the early life stages i.e. from larvae to air breathing.
Cages: Grow-out fish cages have also been introduced as an option for commercial
fish production in large water bodies (lakes and reservoirs). The pilot trials were
undertaken by the USAID FISH project (USAID FISH Project Final Report, 2009).
Tilapia is the fish grown in cages. Low Volume High Density cages are used.
3.1.3. Ownership of Fish Farms
When fish farming started, the fish farming units were on farms owned by individual
households. The exceptions were the government farms that were the experimental
station at Kajjansi; and fry centers at Nkoma -Mbale, Kamenyamigo -Masaka and
Kyanamira -Kabale. Their main production objective was fish seed production as
well as technology testing and dissemination.
Number of Operational Ponds
After the 1980s, community fish ponds began to be encouraged and were established
largely through influence of Non-Governmental and Community Based Organizations
and Government. Their primary objectives were to provide food and income to
primarily the disadvantaged members of the society – notably the poor, youth,
women, in urban area- wives of low income earners (persons with limited financial
resources and access to land). The assumption was that disadvantaged communities
would be in a better position to invest in fish farming if they pooled whatever
resources they had at hand. The other objective for setting up such groups was to
place them in a more favorable position to access both financial and/or technical
assistance to engage in fish farming as an income generating activity from Non-
Governmental Organization and Government. Most agencies offered assistance to
communities and not individuals.
However, (i) many of these groups were too large for the size and number of ponds
they were operating (it was not uncommon to find a group comprising up to 50
households collectively owning and managing a pond of less than 500 m
) (ii)
responsibility towards and subsequently management of the operations was poor
because individuals often did not feel directly responsible, (iii) yields were often poor
and when shared across the group, were found not to be worth the effort put in by the
individuals, (iv) issues of long-term ownership arose as it was often on someone else’s
Once farmers realized that they could not obtain tangible results by working in such
groups with the technologies being employed (not that they were aware of other
alternatives), they increasingly begun to form fish farming groups strategically as an
opportunity to access grants from NGOs or government. Hence once they received
the handouts promised, the group would cease to be functional. Consequently, group
fish farming is gradually dying out in favour of individual owned farms. The major
advantage of such group owned farms is now seen as focal points for training and
technology disseminating information to farmers.
The favoured approach now is to encourage individual farmers to form associations of
independent fish farms. Through these associations, farmers then pool resources to
access technical services and training (through direct procurement themselves, as the
association, access grants/donor support) and do collective marketing. Several of the
fish farmers associations fall under the umbrella of the National Farmers Federation
( In this regard, the Uganda Cooperative Alliance (
has also set-up farmer clusters that operate as parish cooperative societies (Nathan, A.
pers. comm.). This is proving to be a more sustainable option. Walimi Fish Farmers
Cooperative Society (WAFICOS) formed in 2004 is a successful case.
In Northern Uganda, however, the World Food Program (WFP)
( through its Food for Work program is creating and
works with large groups around single ponds. Their objective is to offer a source of
employment (cash) to persons in camps. As the farmers involved are in the process of
moving back home, this offers an opportunity for imparting skills. In the long-run
though, unless each household can meet its needs, the sustainability of such group
farms is likely to be questionable. The groups will likely transform into groups of
independent farmers.
Of recent, companies which became involved in fish farming several are foreign
owned. Initially it was the Fish Processing Companies that invested in trial
commercial farms, once they realized that fish supply from natural fisheries to their
plants was becoming limited. The first two companies to do so were Uganda Fish
Packers ( and Ngege Fish Processors
( The two farms have since ceased to be operational
due to continued inadequate fish supply but Source of Nile Fish Farm (for contact
details see appendix III) and Tende Innovation Farm and Training Center the latter of
which is affiliated to Greenfields (U) Ltd (, are
Since 1994, the government aquaculture research station located at Kajjansi (Wakiso
district) has been managed by the National Agricultural Research Organization
(NARO) and is no longer managed directly under the Fisheries Department of the
Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) as previously was.
In addition, the upcountry government fry centers are in the process of being
transformed into regional Aquaculture Research and Development Centers
(Aquaculture Research and Development Center), to be later managed by NARO.
New zonal centers set-up under NARO are also establishing facilities for aquaculture
so as to develop, test and demonstrate relevant technologies more adaptable to local
agro-climatic and socio-economic characteristics. The latter are located in Arua, Lira,
Soroti and Mbarara Districts.
3.1.4. Types of Fish Farms
Up until the late 1990s when the government decided that seed production should be
privatized, all fish farms (aside from the government stations) were grow-out farms.
Since then, specialized private grow-out farms and hatcheries have evolved. Lately,
fish hatcheries have also become more specialized focusing on single species, either
tilapia (O. niloticus) or catfish (Clarias gariepinus) especially among the peri-urban
farms. More of the rural hatcheries are dual-purpose, running both as grow-out farms
and hatcheries.
The size of fish farms is highly variable and currently there is no substantive
information on their categorization or the performance of the different scales of farms.
This is largely due to the unavailability of reliable statistics which is a constraint in
projecting sectoral development needs and potential.
3.1.5. Species of Fish Farmed
The species adopted for farming in the 1950s and 1960s were O. niloticus (mixed sex
until recently), T. zillii and the Mirror Carp (Cyprinus carpio). Choice was largely
based on local acceptability of the species and their suitability to the production
systems being promoted (Isyagi 2001). Regarding tilapia, it was mixed sex that has
been available.
The tilapias and mirror carp remained the dominant species until the late 1990s, when
African catfish (Clarias gariepinus) production was introduced into aquaculture by
the private sector. Since then, catfish has gained prominence, primarily because it has
enabled farmers practice predator-prey culture thus, improving tilapia pond yields and
returns. The rearing of mirror carp has gradually receded to almost insignificant
levels. T. zillii has also been dropped by farmers because farmers find O. niloticus
growth rates superior. Since 2008, sex-reversed O. niloticus has been produced
commercially and has become available to farmers. A few farmers can now also
hand-sex their tilapia.
In addition, in the late 1990s there was an increased awareness of environmental
issues resulting in a shift encouraging the culture of indigenous species, largely
through initiative of the Lake Victoria Environment Management Project (LVEMP,
1996; Research, at the Aquaculture Research and Development
Center, is currently investigating the domestication of indigenous species, Labeo
victorianus, Barbus atlantis as well as of the Nile perch (Lates niloticus) under the
country’s Millennium Science Initiative.
3.1.6. Management Systems Employed Seed Production
Tilapia: All tilapia seed production is done in ponds. The techniques employed for
mixed sex production have not changed much from the 1960s. Broodstock are placed
in a pond at ratios ranging from 1 male to 1 female, up to 1 male to 5 females. The
size of broodstock used is anything above 300g in weight.
In the majority of tilapia hatcheries, fingerlings are continuously harvested directly for
stocking in other farmer’s ponds from the same spawning pond over a period several
months. It is only in a few hatcheries that individual cohorts are removed from the
spawning ponds after a few weeks for on-growing onto fingerlings. Source of Nile
(SoN) fish farm, drains the spawning ponds within 10 days of spawning and does the
sex reversal in net hapas. The fry are reared in the hapas for a month, before being
transferred into ponds for grow out from fry to fingerlings. The monosex nurseries
purchase fry of 1 g from SoN and raise it to +10g when they are sold as fingerlings for
pond grow-out.
Catfish: There are basically two kinds of catfish hatchery. The smaller hatcheries
where all stages of production are pond-based, and the larger more sophisticated
hatcheries that use tanks to rear the early stages and ponds for on-growing. The all-
pond catfish hatcheries are principally found in the rural areas. Generally the
females are stripped; eggs fertilized and allowed to incubate in basins set where water
can flow over them. As soon as the yolk sac is absorbed the young are transferred
into fertilized ponds. Feeding is with supplemental feeds or commercially formulated
The larger and more complex hatcheries are closer to the towns, primarily because
they depend on power for part of their core activities. Incubation, hatching and early
larval rearing until air-breathing fry are done in tanks. The size at which fish are
transferred to the ponds varies from farm to farm depending on their ability to
maintain the fish in the tanks (e.g. as a result of feeding, type of feed used, depending
on whether they have aeration or not, and demand for space on the farm). Either
commercial formulated diets and/or farm-made formulated diets are used in these
13 Table Fish Production
The principle fish farmed has always been tilapia in earthen ponds under extensive
management as monoculture or poly-culture. Up to the late 1990s the options for
tilapia polyculture were (i) both Oreochromis niloticus and Tilapia zillii with or
without the mirror carp or (ii) either of the tilapias with mirror carp. The uncontrolled
tilapia reproduction coupled with infrequent harvesting resulted in a situation whereby
marketable yields were extremely low (Figure 3.3).
Mirror carp was reared under monoculture in ponds and was fed farm-formulated
Catfish was initially reared in grow-out primarily as a predator in tilapia grow-out
ponds. However, since commercial formulated feeds became available on the market
in 2006, more farmers have adopted catfish monoculture. Catfish monoculture is also
done where the catfish are fed farm-formulated diets and/or poultry offals (see Table
Figure 3.3: Aquaculture yield (metric tons) over the years.
Sources of data: b-Balarin (1985), f-FAO (2005), m-MAAIF (2002), n-Kajjansi
Aquaculture Research and Development Center, 2000. (Missing bars are a result of
missing national data for that particular year).
Commercial tilapia cage culture has also been undertaken in the form of a pilot study
under USAID FISH Project. The Low-Volume High Density cage culture system was
adopted given the water quality conditions of Lake Victoria, their productivity, size,
versatility and socio-economic concerns of the government and public, i.e. the
technology had to be adaptable even by local entrepreneurs. All materials for the
cages are locally made. Currently cage culture is being undertaken in Lake Victoria
by SoN Fish Farm (see appendix III for contact details) and in inland farm reservoirs
by Namayenje Mixed Farm, Mukono and Blessed Investments, Mityana (see farm
contact details in appendix II and appendix III respectively). Initial trials were
conducted using floating feeds imported from the US. Currently locally made sinking
granules are used with demand feeders as an interim measure until floating feeds are
100 0
Production (mt)
locally available. It is expected that complete extruded fish feed shall be available on
the local market by the end of 2009.
3.1.7. Sources of Inputs
Table 3.1 summarizes the major sources of key inputs to farmers over the years.
Table 3.1: Major Sources of Aquaculture Inputs for Farmers
Input 1950s to 1970s 1980s to 1990s 2000
Seed Government Government Private –Sector,
Wild Wild
Private Sector
Private Sector
Private Sector
Fertiliser Farmer Farmer Farmer
Other farmers refers to grow-out farmers, fish farmers not primarily producing seed
but just supply the reproduction.
Also includes private hatcheries.
Includes shops that sell ingredients for farm-made formulated feeds.
Defined by stores selling ingredients for farm-made formulated feeds as well as
commercial pellets. Broodstock and Seed
Sources of Broodstock
Tilapia: The parent stock for the hatcheries of tilapia has largely been obtained from
the wild. In the 1960s however, stock was maintained on the government station and
partially selected as broodstock. Other tilapias (O. mossambicus) were imported for
hybridization trials. Between the late 1970s to the 1980s however, stock management
on the government stations declined. Hence, to-date, broodstock is continuously
replaced after every year or so with wild stock from the different major lakes (i.e.
Lakes Victoria, Albert, Kyoga, Edward and/or George). No consistent selective
breeding program has been established yet at the government station, though it is in
their plans. Private tilapia hatchery operators therefore, have to raise their own brood
stock or obtain it from other farmers. Their major source of brood stock however, is
often initially from the wild. Sometimes they ask assistance from the Aquaculture
Research and Development Center at Kajjansi to help them select brood stock from
the lakes as the Oreochromis niloticus is the tilapia used for pond production. Table
3.2 lists the major private seed producers in the country.
There is now a tilapia (O. niloticus) selective breeding program in the country run by
the SoN Fish Farm, a private tilapia hatchery under the supervision of World Fish
Center ( The initial parents were obtained from Lakes;
Victoria, Kyoga, Edward and George in 2006. Since then, they select, cross and
maintain crosses based on performance of the filial generations. The farm uses this
selected broodstock for its own use in seed production. SoN Fish Farm provides the
best quality tilapia fingerlings for farmers in the country so far and has become the
major and most reliable tilapia hatchery.
Catfish: Catfish seed production started in the country in 1999. It was started by the
private sector, SunFish Farm Limited (contact details in appendix III). SunFish Farm
Limited obtained its parent stock from the Lake Basin Development Authority,
Kenya Marine and Fisheries Institute Station (, in
Kisumu Kenya. A few catfish were later obtained from the wild by Aquaculture
Research and Development Center at Kajjansi as broodstock. These however, were
eventually sold on to Sun Fish Farm that was the only active catfish hatchery until
about 2002/3 when other private hatcheries later became established. Since then
catfish hatchery operators obtain their broodstock by buying sub-market and table size
fish back from grow-out farmers.
Mirror Carp: Stock for mirror carp production was imported from Israel in the
1950s (Isyagi, 2001). No other stock has been brought into the country for
reproduction since. Broodstock is obtained from grow-out farms or stocks maintained
by hatchery operators (both public and private). Currently, the major private mirror
carp hatchery that is still active is Kigezi Mixed Farm (Table 3.2) in Western Uganda.
Sources of Fry and Fingerlings for Grow-Out Fish Production.
The sole sources of fish seed in the country up to the early 1970s were the
government’s experimental station and fry centers (see table 3.1 above). During the
years of political upheaval, their ability to provide services was greatly impaired.
Hence, by the 1980s, the government stations could not handle the farmers’ demand
for fry. More farmers, therefore started obtaining tilapia seed from the wild or from
the reproduction in other fish farmers’ ponds. Seed quality therefore, declined and
there was no form of assurance. In the late 1990s though, government started
encouraging private sector participation and begun relegating the role of seed
production to the private sector.
So, by the early 2000s, 41% of farmers obtained tilapia fry from hatcheries, 11% from
other farmers and 48% from the wild (Isyagi, 2007, NARO/MAAIF, 2000).
However, even after the establishment of private hatcheries, farmers far away from
established hatcheries and the Aquaculture Research and Development Center, still
had no alternative but to obtain tilapia fry/fingerlings from other farmers or wild
sources. Farmers either got fingerlings directly from the wild or got a few brood
stock and stocked them in their ponds to reproduce. It has taken a while for the
hatcheries to spread out to distant rural areas and for private-sector fingerling
marketing chains to develop. This has largely been due to the low effective demand
of fingerlings by the widely spread out rural grow-out farmers that is largely as a
result of their low turnover (poor production).
Fortunately, the farmers who adopted seed production have found it an extremely
profitable business and there are now several private fish seed hatcheries (Table 3.2).
Although the levels of seed production have since increased, seed supply and quality
has persisted as among the major problems affecting the expansion and performance
of aquaculture. The issues in seed quality currently mainly arise from; genetic
management of broodstock, production management techniques employed by some
farms, poor handling, and poor live haulage techniques, size (anything from less than
1g is sold as seed to grow-out farmers, especially of catfish) and variable sizes being
sold in a single batches. A number of farms though have adopted recommended Best
Management Practices on hatchery management upon receiving training to address
these issues from the USAID FISH Project
Seed supply from the private sector currently far outweighs that from the public
Table 3.2: Major Private Fish Hatcheries.
Tilapia Hatcheries Catfish Hatcheries
Name and Location Year of
Name and
Year of
Mpigi Fish Farm
(Mpigi) 1995 Sun Fish Farm
Sun Fish Farm
(Wakiso) 1997 InterFish
MUSO4 Fish
2003 Umoja Fish Farm
Kigezi Mixed
2005 Aquafarm
Interglobe Services Ltd.
2001 Kabeihura Fish
Farm (Bushenyi)
(Jinja) 2006 Tochi Heights
Umoja Fish Farm
(Wakiso) 2005 Mpigi Fish Farm
Kigezi Fish Farm (Kabale) 2005 MUSO4 Fish
Farm (Iganga)
Action for Community
Development Strategies-
Uganda (ACODS) (Apac)
2005 Kigezi Mixed
Fish Farm
Services Ltd
Action for
(ACODS) (Apac)
Largest tilapia hatchery producing selectively bred sex-reversed only male tilapia
Largest catfish hatchery
These hatcheries produce tilapia, mixed sex
These hatcheries nurse monosex tilapia from SoN
(See appendix III for farms’ contact details)
17 Feed
Until recently (2005/6), literally all the feed used on fish farms was sourced from the
farm. Pasture and arable wastes were/are the major on-farm feeds followed by cereal
and grain residues of which the most common is maize bran (NARO/MAAIF, 2002
Isyagi, 2007).
Where formulated diets were fed to the fish, ingredients are procured from local stores
selling animal feed ingredients. The principle ingredient in farm-formulated feed is
maize bran. In addition to maize bran, oil cakes (notably sunflower and cotton seed
cake) are used as well as some fish or blood meal are the considered the major protein
sources (Isyagi, 2007). The farmer then mixes the feed on the farm and feeds the fish.
Among the major challenges for farmers who formulate their own feeds is the
inconsistent quality of the ingredients (there is a lot of adulteration in the market) and
the seasonal variation in availability and costs of ingredients. It can be safely
estimated that more than 80% of farmers still use farm made by-products or formulate
their own feed through mixing the various ingredients.
Since 2005/6, commercial diets have become available on the local market for use in
aquaculture. High quality commercial extruded catfish hatchery diets from Raanan
Fish Feeds are imported from Israel by a local company Balton (U) Ltd
( Artemia is also imported by Balton (U) Limited company and
Aquafarm Consults (U) Limited for use as an initial feed by the intensive hatcheries
(see appendix III for Aquafarm Consults (U) Ltd contacts). Two commercial sinking
pellets (32% and 36% crude protein) are produced by Ugachick Poultry Breeders Ltd.,
( for use in grow-out and secondary nursery ponds. By
2007, Ugachick had produced 400 tonnes compared to less than a ton of feed
produced in 2006 (USAID FISH Project annual reports 2006-07). Currently about 300
tons of commercial sinking pellets are produced per year. Ugachick has outlets across
the country through which farmers can locally access feeds. However, their spread is
still relatively small and supply is not adequate to meet demand (Table 3.4). SoN
Fish Farm (see appendix III for contacts) also makes complete diets of 40%, 35% and
30%CP protein for pond hatchery and grow-out use. Most of the feed produced by
SoN Fish Farm is used on its own farm as the quantities it currently produces are
small because of its limited production capacity.
The dependence on imported hatchery diets provides one of the major production
constraints of the catfish industry. In 2008, catfish fingerling production dropped by
half largely due to insecurity in Kenya that affected the flow of imported goods and
services from the Kenyan Port of Mombasa to Uganda. In 2008, about 1 million
catfish fingerlings were produced in the country compared to 1.6 million in 2007
because of constraints in feed supply (USAID FISH inventory and sales reports 2007;
The tables below illustrate the projected demand for hatchery and grow-out feed if
national production objectives are to be met for bait and table fish culture.
Catfish fingerlings: as bait for long line fishery
Lake Victoria basin Demand (pieces): >700 million/yr
Uganda’s share:
300 million/yr
Estimated 30%
from aquaculture:
100 million/yr
Total tons at 10g/fish 1,000 tons/yr
Total feed need at FCR 1.2 1,200 tons
Require 45 to 35% protein diet
Feed required if all bait for Uganda
3,600 tons feed/yr or more
Regional catfish finger
ling feed demand could
be (7,000tons x 1.2):
8,400 tons feed/yr
Data for table 3.3 adapted from USAID FISH Project and SCOPE, 2006.
Potential Feed Demand (‘000 MT/yr)
Target (5years)
Medium and small-scale pond culture
for local table fish
Large scale fish farms (4
planned) for
regional and export
Bait culture for 30% Uganda’s needs
Regional bait culture 2.8
Total feed demand 18.0
Data for table 3.4 adapted from USAID FISH Project and SCOPE, 2006 (Fish feed
forum at
20Fish%20Feeds%20Forum%2019_1_06.pdf) Fertilisers
The primary fertilizers used are animal manures – cow dung and poultry
droppings/waste. Manure is sourced either from one’s own farm or other farmers in
the neighbourhood. On rural mixed farms, the majority of fish farmers considered the
amount of fertilizers they generated from their own farms as inadequate for all their
farm requirements depending on local animal husbandry practices. Most rural fish
farmers also produce crops and rear some animals. In the urban centers, farmers have
to pay for organic manure if they have none of their own. Availability of animal
manure is higher nearer the urban centers where more intensive systems of animal
production are practiced (Isyagi, 2007). A few farmers also use artificial fertilizers as
an alternative. Technology and Technical Advice
Most farmers obtain their information from their local districts’ Government Fisheries
staff, the National Agricultural Advisory Services, staff from tertiary institutions,
other farmers, and private consultants. A lot of information is also obtained through
the media; local radio programs on FM stations and newspaper articles. Local FM
stations, such as the Central Broadcasting Service (88.8FM) in Central Uganda, are
among major sources of information for the rural farmers. However, the information
farmers get from the different sources is highly variable and misleading, even when it
is from different staff within the same institution.
A study conducted by Atukunda and Walakira (2008) on credible sources of
information sources for aquaculture farmers revealed the following for both grow-out
and hatchery farms. In 2007, the main information providers that whose technical
advice had a positive impact on production and sales for both hatchery and grow-out
farms were; FISH project (56%), fellow farmers (22%), Aquaculture Research and
Development Center-Kajjansi (11%) and international trainings (11%). Their study
also confirmed that the information farmers receive from different service providers is
highly variable, contradictory and often misleading. For example, recommendations
for pond grow-out stocking density using only fertilizers varied from 1-20fish/m
Such misleading advice, has led to a lot of poor investments for farmers. Other Inputs
Seine nets are locally made. Since 2006, an improved seine with a bag is on the
market and is manufactured by the Uganda Fish Net Manufacturers Ltd.
(, Cages are also locally made by the
same manufacturer. A couple of companies, Balton (U) Ltd, and Aquafarm Consults
(U) Ltd, are now importing specialized equipment for aquaculture such as aeration
equipment, etc. Simple tools such as pond compactors, scoop nets, cage frames are
also locally fabricated.
A catalogue of the major input suppliers for commercial fish farmers in the country,
The Uganda Commercial Fish Farmers Inputs and Services Guide’ has been
compiled ( Financing
There is hardly any commercial financing available to fish farming in the country.
Most of the financing accessible to farmers for investing into establishing and running
production facilities is from their own savings. Occasionally, grants have been
accessible to farmers in the recent past largely through Government, donor agencies
or Non-Governmental Organizations associated with specific programs they might
have been addressing in aquaculture. Such grants are primarily disbursed to farmers
in kind, in the form of inputs or technical advice (for more details see section 3.2.).
3.1.8. Markets and Marketing Seed
Most of the tilapia and catfish fry and fingerlings are sold directly to grow-out fish
farmers. Catfish bait (+15g) is sold as bait directly to fishermen or bait dealers. In
both cases, the customer comes to the farm to pick the fish. Some of the catfish bait is
sold to Tanzanian fishermen. Only occasionally do the hatcheries transport
fingerlings to grow-out farms at a cost on-behalf of the client.
The government has also provided and influenced the supply and demand patterns for
fish seed, procuring it as developmental aide for fish farmers through a variety of
projects. This is has done mainly through the National Agricultural Advisory
Services ( and the African Development Bank
( funded Fisheries Project that was
implemented by the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture Animal
Industry and Fisheries. In 2008, the proportion of catfish fingerlings sold as bait
dropped to 17% from 42% the previous year, because most of the catfish fingerlings
produced that year were procured for grow-out production through the African
Development Bank project (USAID FISH Project, 2008). When Government or
NGOs purchase fingerlings, they purchase from both private and public hatcheries at
the prevailing market price. The figures below illustrate the market chains for
fingerlings and catfish bait.
Middle man (private service provider)
Agency (government or NGO)
Figure 3.4: Market Chains for Fish Fingerlings
Middle man (bait dealer)
Figure 3.5: Market Chains for Catfish Bait Grow-out
Initially most of the fish produced was consumed by the household. After the 1960s,
more of the farmed fish was sold largely by the pond side to the communities within
the farm’s vicinity. No detailed figures are available of exactly how much was sold.
Table fish now is sold largely for consumption as food, some as stockers or as brood
stock (see table 3.5 below). Stockers may be sold for on-growing to other farmers or,
as food when farmers are thinning ponds. The latter case is more common in the case
of tilapia (USAID FISH, 2009).
Table 3.5: Definitions of Size Categories Used for Table Fish
Size Category Catfish (g) Tilapia (g)
Submarket 100-399
Table Size +400
Essentially table size or sub-market fish purchased by hatchery producers to use as
broodstock. Hatchery producers purchased either young fish to raise on their farms as
broodstock or ripe fish from grow-out ponds for immediate use especially for catfish.
Table fish for food is now finding its way beyond the farm’s vicinity. being sold into
towns and is finding its way into restaurants and supermarkets (Atukunda et al., 2005;
USAID FISH, 2009). A range of catfish products are also now available on the
market. These include frozen catfish fillets, fresh chilled fillets as well as smoked
whole and filleted catfish (see Figure 3.10).
Most of the tilapia produced on farms is sold whole fresh locally to consumers (see
Figures 3.6, 3.9, and 3.11). The farm-gate value of table tilapia produced and sold by
farmers reporting their inventory and sales to the USAID FISH Project in 2008 was
equivalent in value to US$ 33,000 (USAID FISH, 2008).
Some of the table catfish on the other hand, is now sold in bulk to fish processors who
then process it and export it to region (Kenya, Sudan and Congo) and the European
Union. By end of 2008, 51% of the table sized catfish produced from farms reporting
their inventory and sales to the USAID FISH Project was sold to processors for export
to Congo and the EU. The value of this was estimated to be US$ 63,980 (see Figures
3.7 and 3.8) (USAID FISH, 2008). The proportion of total catfish production sold via
these channels, however, is minor in comparison to the overall production. In
general though, because there is no accurate data of fish farm overall production and
sales in the country, it is difficult to give figures of the proportion of farmed fish (be it
catfish or tilapia) that actually exported.
While there are indications that sales of farmed fish may have increased, the
marketing of farmed fish is among the major obstacles to commercialization of
aquaculture in Uganda. This is largely associated with the current volumes of
production, that are too low and often inconsistent to sustain interest in the available
potential local markets (Mwesigwa, 2008). Other constraints to marketing or
accessing markets for fish famers highlighted in a Peri-Urban Aquaculture study
conducted by Atukunda et al. (2005) in descending order include; low price, distance
to the market, poor transportation, insecurity, low demand, unstable prices,
competition with other producers of the same fish, farmers not knowing the demand
and lack of storage facilities. However, most peri-urban fish farmers in the study
reported that they did not face any constraints in marketing their fish. In the study,
farmers who produced African catfish reported insecurity as the main constraint
especially where partial harvest’s were carried out. Despite the fact that peri-urban
fish producers lived close (0-3km) to nearest urban centers; they reported poor
transportation as a constraint to marketing their fish. This was mainly a concern of
producers targeting the regional markets of Congo and Sudan. Among the other
constraints fish producers cites was that government had not provided credit facilities
to fish farmers compared farmers engaged in other agricultural activities, yet fish
farming required a lot of capital. In addition, because of their often poor production
farmers were not been able to carry out mass advertisement to market their fish. The
fish producers reported ignorance as a marketing constraint since they did not
coordinate nor collaborate with each other or the markets, hence they were often
unaware of what marketing opportunities were available.
For example, there are information services on a daily basis freely available to the
public. Internet service providers have information that can be accessed on Small scale traders can also access market information on
the cellphone providers (e.g. MTN and Celtel/Zain
) at a cost. Most fish farmers as well as some implementers and policy makers,
however, are unaware of this service (Jagwe et al., 2001).
Supermarkets, Restaurants
Agency (Farmers Associations)
Agency (Farmers Associations)
Figure 3.6: Market Chains for Table size Tilapia
All sales done directly by farmer to the consumer
Supermarkets, Restaurants
Agency (Farmers Associations)
Agency (Farmers Association)
Restaurant Bulk Supplier
Export (regional and international)
Figure 3.7: Market Chains for Table size Catfish
All sales done directly by farmer to the consumer
Pond side, market, hawking
Pond side, markets, hawking
Figure 3.8: Distribution of major market outlets for table size Catfish.
Figure 3.9: Distribution of major market outlets for table size Tilapia.
Retail (92%)
Middlemen (1%)
Processors (4%)
Other Farmers (3%)
Processors (49%)
Other farmers (3%)
Retail (47%)
Middlemen (
Table Size (96%)
Broodstock (2%)
Sub-m arke t (2%)
Other farme rs for
ongrow ing (6 3%)
Retail for fo od (37 %)
Submarket (49%)
Table Size (49%)
Broodstock (2%)
98% of su bmarket fish is
sold for food.
3.1.9. Production Economics
According to a study conducted on the economics of aquaculture by Mwesigwa
(2008), average catfish yields for most grow-out farmers was 2,200 kg/ha/crop and of
tilapia about 1,000 kg/ha/crop. For most farmers, yields were low, unreliable and
operations largely, unprofitable. However, with improved methods of production
using commercial sinking pellet up to 18,000 kg/ha/crop and 10, 000 kg/ha/crop
respectively, for tilapia and catfish have been achieved. Production from ponds under
good management with farm-made feed and/or offals with catfish yields about 7,000
to10,000 kg/ha/crop (USAID FISH, 2009). A crop/cycle is usually from 8 months to
over a year.
Figure 3.10: Major product categories of Table Size Catfish as sold from farms
Figure 3.11: Major product categories of Table Size Tilapia as sold from farms
Compared to grow-out operations, hatcheries are more profitable (USAID FISH,
2009). Production ranges from about 500 to 5,000 fingerlings/kg of female spawned
and returns range from US$ 0.03 to US$ 0.07 US cents per fingerling are obtained
depending what management practices specific catfish hatcheries employ. Production
from tilapia hatcheries ranges from 100-250 fingerlings per kg female spawned and
returns range from US$ 0.01 to US$0.03 US cents per fingerling depending on the
hatcheries specific management practices (USAID FISH, 2009). Seed Costs
Farm gate fry and fingerling prices range between US$ 0.10 and US$ 0.16 for Catfish,
and US$ 0.05 for tilapia. Farmers however, pay up to US$ 0.52 per fingerling when
fish are obtained via an intermediary or from the wild, costs of transportation
excluded. Costs of fingerlings to the farmer are rather high and typically farmers
spend above 20% of variable costs on fingerlings (Table 3.6). Costs are high to the
farmer because of the inefficiencies in the production chain: i.e. low supply, poor
technical advice, low output, high rate of production failure, highly variable and low
survival rates (1% to 90%).
Table 3.6: Typical Total Variable Cost Structure (%) for Grow-Out Operations
Feeding System
Seed 80
Sources of Data: Isyagi, 2007
; NARO/MAAIF, 2000
, USAID FISH Project, 2009
c Feed Costs
A range of feeds are available to fish farmers at average costs indicated in table 3.7.
Pasture and arable wastes sourced from on-farm are largely at no financial cost to the
farmer, except where there are opportunity costs when such feeds are also fed to other
livestock. For the majority of farmers, costs of feed are high irrespective of the kind
used. This because other than the cost, for most, the returns to feed (Feed Conversion
Ratios) are extremely poor due to the factors affecting production previously
mentioned that result into persistent low yields.
Table 3.7. Feed Costs
Feed Item US $ per kilogram*
Commercial pellets- 32% crude protein 0.67
Specialized hatchery feeds 1.77
Farm-made formulations 0.72 – 1.38
Maize bran
Protein concentrate
*Market prices from 2008
26 Retail Prices for Table Fish
The prevailing retail price for fresh fish (2009) is US$ 3 to US$ 3.5 per kg for tilapia
across the country. The lowest recorded price of US$ 1.75 was in Arua district.
Prices are generally higher in northern Uganda (Foodnet, 2009).
3.2. Actors in the Sector
3.2.1. Central Government
The major role of government is to set up policy, both general to agriculture and
specific to aquaculture, put in place development frameworks and strategies and as
well as set up the legal and institutional framework for implementation. Figure 3.12
below illustrates the roles and linkages of the public and private sector in general.
Figure 3.12: General Illustrations of Roles of the Different Actors and their
Major Linkages
Ministry of Finance, Planning & Economic Development
1. National Development Goals,
2. Sets General Policy and Guiding Framework for National Development
3. Oversee Management of National Resources (mainly financial)
Current National Development Frameworks: PEAP and PMA
Implementing Line Ministries
1. Develop Sectoral Policies, Strategies and Development Plans based on
their mandate
2. Overall supervision of the Sectoral implementation policies.
Other Agencies and Institutions (Public, Non-governmental)
Implementation and consultation on policy, strategy and plan development.
Address specific issues within their mandates usually based on:
1. National objectives
2. Clients’ needs
3. Development partners.
Private Sector (farmers, service providers)
Implementation. Choices of specific activity depend on their objectives, and
the opportunities and risks of undertaking an activity.
3.2.2. Regional and International Agencies
Regional and international agencies provide mainly financial and technical support to
the central government and its institutions to undertake specific tasks including
institutional support. This is mainly in the form of loans or grants under specific
projects. Table 3.7 summarizes some of these projects and what they did.
Table 3.8: Aquaculture projects over the years and their objectives.
Year/Period Program Objective Financier
1992-1994 **HeadStart Infrastructure -
World Bank
World Bank
Training, Research
World Bank
Seed Project
Increase seed
Government of
Indigenous Species
World Bank
1999-2005 Small-Scale Fish
To increase, on
sustainable basis,
the contribution of
aquaculture to
small holder
livelihoods, income
generation and food
2003 to date ADB Fisheries
Training of farmers
and research
Development Bank
2004- 2009 ARTP-II Research &
World Bank
2004-2008 Agriculture Sector
Support Services*
development –
Aquaculture was
among the
Setting up catfish
FISH Project*
Adaptation and
Dissemination for
2008-2009 FAO* Aquaculture
development in the
North; developing
an aquaculture
2007 to-date Food for Work* Rebuilding of
livelihoods in the
North- Fish farming
among the
2008 to -date LEAD* Rebuilding of
livelihoods in the
North- Fish farming
among the
2003 Vic Res Aquaculture
development in the
Lake Victoria Basin
via research.
Targets universities
and researchers
CIDA / Inter-
University Council
2005 - 2017
Investment Project.
Overall objective is
to increase income
and nutrition
through production
of farmed fish for
domestic use and
(See Appendix IV for Institutional Web details)
The Small-Scale Fish Project, ASPS-DANIDA Project, FISH Project, LEAD Project, Food
for Work and the FAO projects on hatchery production and rebuilding livelihoods worked
with farmers. The other projects focused on improving capacity building of staff at
government institutions.
HARE and Head Start are similar projects that were implemented prior to the
establishment of NARO and focused on infrastructure development.
The regional body, Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO; ) is
now setting and harmonising regional policy on fisheries and aquaculture for the East
African Community. From a joint communiqué of the council of ministers of LVFO
that sat on the 29
October 2008 it was agreed that all member states give priority,
expertise and funding to develop a regional strategic plan for aquaculture
development. They also adopted to practice responsible aquaculture in Lake Victoria
region to bridge the gap between supply and demand that is widening in East Africa.
International agencies such as the Rockefeller Foundation ( ),
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA;
e.htm ) through the Lake Victoria Research (Vic Res) Initiative Project have offered
grants on a competitive basis for research in various aspects of aquaculture for
research personnel based at Universities and the Agricultural Research Organisations
mainly within East Africa.
3.2.3. Local Government
Local governments are primarily responsible for providing technical services to the
farmers. They also help coordinate the activities of national projects as well as those
of NGOs that fall within their jurisdiction. This has been mainly by way of linking
farmers to these national agencies. Local governments can establish their own
independent programs but this largely depends on their budgets and what the districts
priorities are.
3.2.4. Government Agencies
The other government agencies directly involved in aquaculture development are the
National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) and the National Agricultural
Advisory Services (National Agricultural Advisory Services) that undertake research
and technology dissemination respectively. The activities of the latter are managed at
district level and funding is provided via the office of the district production
coordinator to cater for the agricultural enterprises that farmers in a district select and
prioritize. Specific technical support is sought largely through hiring consultants to
give technical backstopping, sourcing inputs, marketing and training workshops for
The Aquaculture Research and Development Center (ARDC - Kajjansi) located at
Kajjansi falls under the Fisheries Resources Research Institute, of the National
Agricultural Research Organization. It is primarily responsible for the development,
testing and demonstration of appropriate aquaculture technologies in the country.
3.2.5. Non-Governmental Organizations
Non-governmental organizations work directly with the communities they support.
Their direct involvement in aquaculture comes about when fish farming becomes
identified as an activity that can improve the livelihoods of their clients. They source
most of their technical support from the local district fisheries staff, the Aquaculture
Research and Development Center and universities. In effect, they primarily act as
facilitators of a process. According to a report by NEPAD (2005), among the
International NGOs involved in aquaculture are; CARE ( ), ACCORD
( ), IUCN ( ), OXFAM ( ) and
The Uganda Cooperative Alliance ( ) is also currently getting farmers
organize themselves into cooperative societies to enable them obtain advantage in
accessing markets.
3.2.6. Community Based Organizations
Community based organizations operate in a manner similar to the Non-
Governmental Organizations. However, some specialized fish farmers associations
have been established by farmers. Some are dormant while others are functional. The
farmers major objectives for setting up fish farmer associations include; collective
marketing, sourcing of inputs as well as technical and financial support for their
members. Among the major functional fish farmer associations in the country are:
1. Walimi Fish Farmers Cooperative Society (Kampala),
2. Uganda Fish Farmers Association (Kampala),
3. Uganda Commercial Fish Farmers Association (Kampala),
4. Budaka-Pallisa Fish Farmers Association (Pallisa),
5. Iganga Fish Farmers Association (Iganga),
6. Kabeihura Fish Farmers Association (Bushenyi),
7. Lalogi Young Christian Rural Development Farmers Group (Gulu),
8. Acan Pe Kun Fish Farmers Group (Lira),
9. Kuc Ber Idwong Fish Farmers Group (Lira),
10. Kalechoru Rural Development Initiative Cooperative Society Limited
The contact details for these associations are listed in appendix V.
3.2.7. Private-Sector
The private sector is largely involved in direct investment into aquaculture production
and service provision. All fish farmers fall within this category. Since 2005, major
industrial investments have been made in commercial feed production. Ugachick
Poultry breeders Limited, the major producer of commercial grow-out pellets for fish.
Source of Nile Fish Farm is produces largely specialised diets for tilapia fry and
fingerlings. Uganda Fish Net Manufacturers Limited makes cages and seine nets for
aquaculture. The major company dealing with specialised inputs (e.g. blowers,
diffusers) for commercial aquaculture is Balton (U) Limited. There are also a number
of artisans making simple tools for aquaculture service as well as providing specific
services to farmers notably, pond construction, net mending as well as other
consultancy services (USAID FISH Project, 2009).
Since the winding up of the USAID FISH Project, some of the former demonstration
farms of the project have also set themselves up as Farmer Field Schools offering
hands-on training for farmers. So far, farmers interested in improving their skills pay
and stay on the farms for up to a month depending on what aspects of aquaculture
they are interested in, i.e. hatchery or grow-out production. The farms offering this
service are listed in table 3.8 below:
Table 3.9: Aquaculture Farmer Field Schools
Farm Location Service
Mityana Tilapia and Catfish Pond Grow-out
Production, Tilapia Cage Culture in
Edrhon Fish Farm Kampala – Tilapia Pond Grow-out and Catfish
Mpigi Fish Farm Mpigi – Tilapia and Catfish Nursery Production,
Tilapia and Catfish Pond Grow-out
MUSO4 Fish Farm Iganga – Small Scale Rural Catfish Hatchery
Production, tilapia nursery production and
Tilapia and Catfish Grow-out Production
Namuyenje Mixed
Mukono – Tilapia Cage culture in reservoirs
SoN Fish Farm Jinja – Tilapia Nursery Pond Production and
Tilapia Cage Culture
Sun Fish Farm Wakiso – Catfish Hatchery Production
Tende Innovation
Farm and Training
Catfish hatchery production
Umoja Fish Farms
Wakiso – Catfish hatchery production
See appendix II for contact details
Umoja and Tende Farm have accommodation for farmers and on-farm classrooms.
3.2.8. Tertiary Institutions
Training of personnel is undertaken by the tertiary institutions. The government
institutions that provide training in aquaculture include the Fisheries Training Institute
at Entebbe that offers a diploma in Fisheries and Aquaculture
( ); and Makerere University ( ) that
now offers undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in Fisheries and Aquaculture.
Since 2006, private universities started offering courses in aquaculture too. The
private universities offering undergraduate degrees in Fisheries and Aquaculture
include Busoga University ( ), Lugazi University
( ) and Nkumba University
( ). Makerere University also undertakes research in
aquaculture. Gulu University ( ), the government agricultural
university is planning to establish a course in aquaculture and establish a center for
aquaculture training with a focus on production in northern Uganda with facilities for
practical demonstration. Gulu University plans to use the facilities it develops for
both farmer and student training, technology development and dissemination.
Unitl the late 1990s, training in aquaculture was managed by the Fisheries
Department of the Ministry of Agriculture that had the syllabus set based on
prevailing needs of the sector. The Fisheries Training Institute at Entebbe, was then
the only tertiary institute offering comprehensive training in aquaculture. Now
tertiary training in aquaculture is under the management of the Ministry of Education
and the Fisheries Department has little input in either the setting of aquaculture syllabi
or quality control of the trainers.
The tertiary institutions also undertake research much of which is obtained from
competitive grants; notably VicRes ( ) and the Millennium Science
Initiative ( ) among others. The
result of this though is that the specific topics addressed are influenced by the specific
overall objective of the granting bodies.
3.3. Impacts of Aquaculture
National and Local Economy
The economic impact of aquaculture at the national level and for most households has
been negligible. Gross margins from fish farming for the majority of fish farmers in
the country are negative (Mwesigwa, 2008, NARO/MAAIF, 2000
According to
the NARO/MAAIF(2000
) baseline survey report on aquaculture, fish farming had
very limited impact on the income of rural households and only about 12 %, of fish
farmers derived incomes from fish farming ranging from of US$ 48 - 70 p.a. This is
despite the fact that aquaculture has been assessed as a potentially viable and
profitable enterprise (Nanyenya et al., 1999).
The reasons for this dismal performance can be traced to the reasons and manner in
which aquaculture was introduced and the subsequent implementation strategies,
3.3.1. Provision of Inputs and Services by Government
Between 1953 to1970s government literally provided everything to the farmer at its
own cost – pond construction services (equipment hire and technical personnel), seed,
sampling, harvesting and technical backstopping. This was done through its
aquaculture whose base was at the experimental station at Kajjansi (now the
Aquaculture Research and Development Center). Technical assistance to the
government, was provided through FAO. The activities of FAO were based at the
experimental station and included developing/adapting (experiment, trials),
appropriate technology for production by subsistence farmers and obtaining
performance data from farmer (records) as well as selecting/testing species and seed
During the periods of political upheaval in the country (1970s to mid 1980s),
government’s ability to provide these services declined and the facilities at its
experimental station and other fry centers fell into a state of disrepair (Isyagi, 2001).
Because everything was done by government, farmers had no knowledge or capacity
to continue undertaking key activities independently such as seed production, etc.
Furthermore, field extension staff who used to have regular re-training sessions at the
experimental station had no more intensive in-house training programs. The quality
technical services declined as did the ability of the extension staff to access the
farmers. The ability of the extension/technicians to work out solutions for farmers
likewise became compromised. Experienced government staff also left for greener
pastures elsewhere and/or were promoted to senior offices at the headquarters.
Younger less experienced technicians remained for a while without senior supervision
at the station. The impact of this was a decline in the quality of services; quality and
quantity of seed production, technical capability to advise farmers, and development
of new technology. More farmers had to resort to the wild or fish other farmers’
ponds for seed and advice.
3.3.2. Extension Services.
Initially all research and extension was managed through the Ministry of Agriculture
headquarters. This continued until when the National Agricultural Research
Organisation became established as an autonomous entity from the Ministry in 1985
and all research activities were then directly under it. Extension services however,
still remained supervised by the Ministry of Agriculture. A Research Extension
Liaison Officer from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries was
attached to all major research stations. The task of the Research Extension Liaison
Officer was to obtain research results and pass them on to the ministry for
dissemination. Extension and research therefore started operating independently.
Until the 1980s, all new fishery staff had a compulsory one month induction course,
residential at the experimental station. In addition, pre-seasonal workshops were
conducted twice a year (this was done until the late 1990’s), to which all District
Fisheries Officers were compelled to attend. At these workshops, district staff were
expected to come information regarding farmers production and production
constraints. Key issues were directly with staff from the agricultural research stations,
solutions were sought and where not, it was upon the research staff to research upon
these matters and give a feed-back to the extension staff. In addition, each season,
district staff would also request for a topic in which they would like more training.
This helped streamline the information getting out to fish farmers.
However, after the decentralization system of government was introduced in late
1990s, district extension staff became directly accountable to the local governments
and there was no central control. Lack of resources resulted in these courses being
stopped. The ability of district extension staff to obtain technical assistance from
research personnel diminished and became largely governed by each district’s
production objectives and finance priorities. The level of interaction of field
extension and research staff consequently increasingly became a one-to-one affair
depending on the level of personal interest of the extension staff. This opened room
for the diversity of extension messages, as it became difficult to update extension
Non-Governmental organizations also subsequently became increasingly important in
maintaining the link between field extension personnel and research staff. This was
largely because they provided a facilitating role to aquaculture extension, depending
on the needs of the communities they worked with. Because the Non-Governmental
Organisations lacked technical capacity and aquaculture was often not the primary
activity the majority of their clients were engaged in, it was more economical for the
Non-Governmental Organisations to work by facilitating the district extension
personnel to provide extension services to the fish farmers rather than hire their own
technical personnel. The Non-Governmental Organisations also provided inputs and
organized field visits for farmers with their extension staff to the Aquaculture
Research and Development Center at Kajjansi.
In 2005, agricultural extension services became privatized upon the implementation
of the National Agricultural Advisory Services Policy (MAAIF, 2005). There was
recognition of the fact that resources were to effectively carry out extension services
in agriculture were a constraint. Therefore, the strategy was to reduce the number of
field extension staff in the districts and focus the limited available resources and
efforts into what farmers prioritized as their key concerns within each district.
However, even under this new system, a number of key issues affected the quality of
aquaculture advisory services offered to farmers. These caused the National
Agricultural Advisory Services, to temporarily halt service provision in aquaculture in
Among the major issues was the inability of National Agricultural Advisory Services
to vet the quality of those it hired to provide technical services on its behalf to fish
farmers beyond the academic qualifications of the consultants. It became apparent,
that just because someone had a diploma or a degree in aquaculture, they were not
necessarily competent to undertake the tasks they were hired for. The information
hired consultants passed on to farmers was more often than not contradictory and did
not result into tangible production or sales.
Secondly, the prioritisation by farmers is largely dependent on the products that they
can easily market, are profitable and have experience in. Aquaculture being a
relatively new enterprise, in which no grow-out farmer had generally succeeded,
always fell back behind the commercial crops and other livestock.
The quality of extension services provided has also been additionally difficult to
control because the research center has not officially released sets of aquaculture
technologies packages suitable to different areas. There are many consultants, no
monitoring nor registered standard for their quality, with no responsibility to anyone.
This has resulted in farmers seeing no value from the advisors seconded to them by
National Agricultural Advisory Services, and losing confidence in the advisors
available to them. This prompted the National Agricultural Advisory Services
program to put a hold on its financing of aquaculture extension services to farmers
until a point when quality assurance of consultants hired can be better guaranteed. So
all farmers have been able to get from National Agricultural Advisory Services in the
past couple of years is largely inputs, notably seed and feed. Farmers have
consequently have receive seed through National Agricultural Advisory Services of
recent but hardly any training has accompanied this, which in turn has affected
Low government salaries have also created a situation whereby staff who would
otherwise be providing advice to farmers as part of their work, are charging them
even when they are at duty stations. Desperate farmers, who are disillusioned, take in
any advice, usually from poorly informed and inadequate knowledge sources.
3.3.3. Tertiary Training
Previously under the Fisheries Department, the Fisheries Training Institute (FTI)
curricula was based on the prevailing needs of the industry – now it is under the
Ministry of Education whose key success criteria is the academic qualification
someone obtains. Given the prompt from government for more investment in
aquaculture and information from the media that wild catches are low, everyone sees
opportunity in aquaculture, training not exclusive. Private institutions now realise
that aquaculture as a course is marketable and has future opportunities as a growing
industry. Hence, there has been a race to cash-in on the publics increased interest in
aquaculture by offering training courses up to the degree level, irrespective of the
availability of suitably qualified teaching personnel or training facilities.
Consequently, much of the teaching is class based and not practical nor based on
learning skills by example and experience. In most cases the first time the teacher gets
to know about aquaculture is from textbooks they read or internet. The approach to
teaching students is by giving them problems to answer for assignments which has
failed to yield results because as long as the student has no knowledge of the
underlying principles, their understanding and ability to solve problems remains
limited. Furthermore, several of the lecturers have little interaction with farmers and
so minimum knowledge of what is actually on-going on farms. The majority have of
course never run or managed fish farms themselves, despite going ahead and telling
others how to do it. The ministry also has no farmers’ needs input into the
aquaculture training curricula. In addition, as with the extension personnel, no one is
responsible for taking the training institutions to account for the quality or
implications of the information they disseminate to their students or farmers.
Graduates in aquaculture from local institutions are therefore unable to perform up to
the public expectations. A situation is therefore arising whereby farmers are
increasingly becoming more knowledgeable than graduates and some of their
lecturers. Thus, more farmers are opting to pay successful farmers to train them
practically on their farms, hence the farmer training centers mentioned earlier.
As a result, there are three categories of farmers/aquaculturalists – those who make
money from projects/government, the real farmers who are perpetually making losses,
and the consultants/advisors making money out of farmers’ desperate attempts to
transform their operations into viable enterprises.
3.3.4. Research
Most of the research undertaken has been influenced by the objectives of the financier
and availability of funds. However, within the research realm, unlike in the training
sector, the voice of the farmers has infiltrated the research agenda. Initially this was
done via the previously mentioned pre-seasonal workshops that were conducted by
the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries. Under the National
Agricultural Research Systems (MAAIF, 2003), it is now a prerogative that research
be demand-driven and farmers form part of the management boards that decide and
oversea the programs undertaken by the research institutes. This, with respect to
aquaculture, has seen more research being conducted on-farm.
More research is now also funded through competitive grants given both by the
government and international bodies. In such situations, the research personnel have
to skew proposals suited to the funders’ objectives in order to be competitive.
Therefore, while all funders and institutions claim their interest as being support for
what is relevant and demand-driven by farmers needs, the reality is that the key issues
affecting production in their specific local contexts sometimes do not get the due
attention they deserve.
The other major issue then (and is among the major issue today) was that depending
on the source, the release of fund released was not always done in tandem with the
planned research activities. Hence, for example, funds might be released for sampling
farmers ponds, sixth months after stocking yet it was proposed that sampling be done
3.3.5. Development Partners:
Bilateral aid to the government has primarily gone into infrastructure development,
research and training. Most bilateral and multilateral aid is based within the
government offices or is disbursed to the end-user through the government channels.
The general point of view is ‘Public-Private Sector Partnerships’ with the public
sector being the primary controller. While in some instances, the public sector should
take the lead, in others, such as where industrial development is concerned, the private
sector being in the lead might be more appropriate. Especially, when one takes into
account the costs of administrating these resources before the target beneficiaries can
access them.
Of the major aquaculture projects that have be executed from the past, it was only the
USAID FISH Project and DANIDA Agribusiness aquaculture sub-component that
have been set within the private sector and interacted with the farmers directly to
address their specific needs. DANIDA Agribusiness also had an enterprise innovation
fund – that provided competitive grants to farmers to enable them adopt and adapt
technologies that would improve the efficiency and profitability of their operations.
The experiences of these two projects shows that more effort should be spent directly
working with farmers, on farms especially where appropriate technology exist and can
be sourced. When sectoral development money goes via other channels, a great
proportion is spent in project administration rather than directly to the farmers.
3.3.6. Production
The above factors have inadvertently had a negative impact on production and the
growth of the sector. Poor quality advisory services with no quality control, poor
quality inputs as well as the inadequacies of supply and accessibility, poor quality of
pond construction as well as of other production facilities and poor management
practices have resulted in persistently low and unreliable yields especially for grow-
out farmers. This has resulted in many ponds becoming abandoned (Isyagi, 2007).
Unfortunately, most extensionists have perceived that increasing pond size increases
yields directly, even though at a small-scale most farmers are disappointed with the
production. The propagation of the concept of expanding to increase production has
resulted into even more losses and discouragement to farmers. This is because in
effect advisors are asking farmers to invest more and expand an already failing
business. Thus at the end of the day, the only person who has gained financially is the
4.0. Description of the Current Institutional Frameworks, Policies, Plans
and Programmes on Rural, Peri-Urban and Urban Aquaculture
4.1 The Fisheries Policy
Table 4.1: Policy Analysis (Fisheries Policy)
The National
Fisheries Policy
(Ministry of
Agriculture Animal
Industry and
Fisheries, 2004).
Points of Attention Identification of Possible
Type of Document:
Sector: Fisheries
Scope: National
Views on the Present Situation
in Aquaculture
- Policy was formulated by the FRD, Ministry
of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries
- Situation is analysed from the point of view
of fishery resource management.
- The policy does not distinguish between the
different types, production and marketing
practices for aquaculture. Only in general
terms mentions developing the capacity of
private seed producers for fry and
polyculture/semi-intensive fish farming.
- Problems and potentials have not been
reviewed e.g. Key concerns by farmers are
availability, accessibility and/or quality of feed,
seed, information, financing, markets.
- Roles were assigned to local governments and civil
society without their full participation nor addressing
issues regarding their ability to effectively delivery such
- No indication of farmer or private-sector concerns
being specifically mentioned or addressed.
-If a situation analysis were conducted taking into
account the viewpoints of others in the sector and their
likely impact areas, the policy would improve for
aquaculture, it would improve the policy.
- Issues requiring further research in order to improve
the policy include what sort of production systems
should be promoted vis-à-vis market opportunities, input
supply chains and farmers investment capitals.
Vision of the National
Fisheries Policy:
‘An ensured sustainable
exploitation and culture of the
fishery resources at the highest
possible levels, thereby
maintaining fish availability for
both present and future
generations without degrading
the environment’.
Specific Policy Objectives for
Aquaculture in the National
Fisheries Policy: Quote;
(i) To increase the quality and
quantity of aquaculture-based
fish production.
(ii) To ensure and increase the
production of a diversified range
of fish products including finfish
and crustaceans.
(iii) To promote certain targeted
fisheries for live ornamental fish
(iv) To enhance fish production
in minor lakes and reservoirs.
Targeted Aquaculture
Production in Policy: Increase
it by 200% from an estimated
2,000 t in 2004 to 100,000 t by
- The strategy of the policy is to achieve its
aquaculture objectives by:
1. supporting private ‘fry’ producers,
2. encouraging different production systems
(notably polyculture and semi-intensive),
3. research for high yielding varieties and high
value local species,
4. setting standards and guidelines for fisheries
5. Encouraging community participation –
Non-Governmental Organisations and
Community Based Organisations, private
investment (both foreign and local)
6. Assigning local governments to be
responsible for local level planning for
aquaculture development, ensuring farmers
access technical support for farmers largely
through helping formation of farmer groups or
associations and setting up technology
dissemination centres.
7. Assigning civil society the responsibility for
supporting training, provision of inputs,
technical support and finance, supporting farm
trial and dissemination centres and organising
farmers in groups.
Definition of Objectives: The objectives have
been defined only in terms of production.
Major Target Groups Mentioned: Investors
(local and foreign), middle-class, poor farmers,
Non-Governmental Organisations, Community
Based Organisations, local government.
-Yes the policy could be improved in the following way:
1. The country’s national agricultural development
framework is the Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture
whereby the key overall objectives are to improve
livelihoods through market oriented agriculture. Hence
(and this is in line with farmers objectives) other than
increased production, additional objectives for
aquaculture should include ) increased productivity ii)
ability to generate opportunities for gainful rural
employment iii) increased incomes to farmers iv)
sustainability with respect to rational use of natural
resources and economic as well as technical viability.
2. Other than general reference to production systems,
seed supply and access to technical support for farmers,
the policy’s strategy currently overlooks key issues
pertaining to accessibility to the major inputs for
production and marketing as well as strategies for
removing current bottlenecks associated obtaining these
key inputs in the volumes, quality and price-ranges that
would enable viable profitable production.
3. Practically, if one is to develop aquaculture as a sector
and achieve the targeted production goals, then
aquaculture per se traverses different sectors, several of
which are key for assured production. The policy’s
strategy has no inference to this nor provides strategies
for the constructive engagement of other key sectors not
in fisheries, so as to ensure the production objectives
are met (e.g. water resources, trade and industry,
finance, etc.).
4. There is no road-map set with a matching investment
plan to guarantee the achievement of the policy’s
production goals.
5. The assumption is that the private sector and civil
society will decide to invest in order to achieve
government’s national production objectives yet they
might have other priorities and more profitable options
(especially given that incomes etc are not part of the
Fisheries aquaculture objectives). How does the policy
realistically attract private investment into the sector
especially if profits are not part of the objective and
currently aquaculture is a high-risk venture for the
majority of fish farmers with a high risk of failure?
There are no specific strategies to address these
challenges thus attract investment of the private sector
and civil society who are not obliged to implement
governments policies (or rather have a wide choice of
what they can choose to invest in).
6. The policy should therefore refocus on the targeted
groups and strategically target those groups likely to
have a positive impact on the achievement of the
policy’s objectives for aquaculture be they from
different sectors. Therefore, targeted groups in the
policy for aquaculture should be multi-sectoral and all
Selected Policy Measures,
Instruments and Interventions
A summary of the specific policy measures
mentioned in the policy’s strategy are to:
1. encourage investment, research
2. support farmer associations, access to
technical support for farmers as well as of basic
inputs and credit.
3. More affirmative mention is made with
respect to setting standards
4. Ensuring effective participation of Non-
Governmental Organisations and Community
Based Organisations.
1. The Aquaculture Rules (2003) are the legal
set of instruments specifically developed from
the National Fisheries Policy to manage
aquaculture in line with the policies objectives.
In addition, other government policies or
agencies are inadvertently applied as means of
achieving the policies goals, notably:
a. National Agricultural Advisory Services
(National Agricultural Advisory Services)
whose key role is to disseminate technical
information to farmers and assist them access
markets and inputs.
b. National Agricultural Research Policy
(NARS) whose overall responsibility is to
undertake agricultural research that is market-
responsive, client oriented and demand driven
comprising both the public and private sectors
so as to generate and disseminate appropriate,
safe, cost-effective technologies that result in
increased incomes as well as food security.
Scientific Basis Policy Measure Taken.
Currently no field data is analysed and
incorporated into policy formulation for
aquaculture. Much of it is based on
assumptions, the major assumption being that
once government sets its production targets, the
rest of Uganda shall comply to achieve
governments goals. Therefore for example:
1. While central government put in place a set
of legal instruments, the key issue at hand is
how these rules can be interpreted and applied
in a manner that does not discourage private
investment, entrepreneurship, impede the
smooth flow of aquaculture goods and services
with farmers business interests given the
perish-ability of the farmed product, and
ensures aquaculture goods and services remain
competitive vis-à-vis other agricultural goods
and services.
2. National Agricultural Advisory Services
and NARS offer services on a competitive
basis based on the market opportunity of
products and likelihood of technologies
adopted to generate income. Because of
aquaculture’s poor productive and economic
performance at farm-level, the amount of
It is not realistic that results can be guaranteed from
these general specific policy measures because/unless:
1. the major driving force for private investment are
2. government funded research should initially focus and
improving the viability of aquaculture if the sector is to
attract private or other finances.
3. supporting farmer associations, access to technical
support, inputs and credit does not necessarily translate
into increased production. The issue is profitable fish
farming for farmers which means marketing, the correct
technical advice for viable production options, access to
the right quality of inputs, credit inclusive at a
favourable cost that allows the product be competitive
on the market. Therefore, what sort of associations
should be formed and supported? What dimensions
should this support take in order that the associations are
effective and become self-sustaining and sustainable?
What support do the input and credit supplies require?
What about the players, facilities and technology
required to produce the appropriate inputs? etc.
4. Setting standards is essential but does not guarantee
success. Is it justifiable that it is the only aspect of the
policy strategy set in affirmative given the status of the
sub-sector and the challenges it is facing?
5. How does government ensure the effective
participation of Non-Governmental Organisations and
Community Based Organisations yet it does not set their
agenda nor provide financing. Rather would the focus
not be attracting their participation and helping them be
effective? – the best way of doing so would be the
viability of aquaculture.
The legal instruments can only work if everything in the
chain is following smoothly, communication and
response of persons responsible for certain activities is
quick, efficient, effective and all parties (public and
private sector ) are trustworthy and work in each other’s
interest based on the designated functions mandated to
the respective institutions. However, the current fear by
most farmers is that they shall be taken unfair advantage
of by government officials. While they accept
governments functions, they do not trust that
government officials necessarily work in the best
interest of the farmer or the aquaculture sector but rather
their own personal interests.
An open atmosphere of mutual trust would extremely be
beneficial to the growth of the sector.
Zoning and Stakeholder Interests
1. Other than the FAO country report, no other data has
been obtained with regard to these, and even where
available in other sectors or local reports, this
information has not been applied. Hence, the situation
in National Agricultural Advisory Services for example
where aquaculture cannot effectively compete with other
agricultural enterprises yet the fact that it is in its infancy
requires that more effort be placed in appropriate
technology testing and dissemination, inputs as well as
in training of advisors.
competitive funding assigned to aquaculture by
these units has gradually depreciated.
Differentiation of Policy Measures
The policy measures are not differentiated
based on zone. Some regulations specifically
address semi-intensive farmers, seed producers
and fish breeders. No account is taken of
differences between urban or peri-urban
Specific Interests of Women or Poor
The specific interests of women or the poor are
not mentioned. Assistance to the poor to
engage in aquaculture is relegated to the Non-
Governmental Organisations and Community
Based Organisations, primarily through support
for technical dissemination, access to inputs
and credit.
2. Differentiation would definitely improve the
appropriateness of the policy to aquaculture
development, starting from the setting of objectives. It
would also help streamline the strategy and help in
identification of who the targeted key players should be
both for delivery of services to farmers as well as who
the final targeted persons and markets should be.
3. the improvements could be made if the constraints
were clearly identified and quantified. NARO has
undertaken studies on urban and peri-urban aquaculture
whose findings suggest aquaculture at its level of low
input, low output type of production provides food
security benefits to the women and resource poor
farmers. These benefits need to be enhanced but current
shift to commercialisation seems to bare out this
category of the population.
Institutional Framework for
the Operationlisation,
Implementation and
Monitoring of the Policy
1. Local Government – district
planning and technology
dissemination through the
District Fisheries Officer and
his/her assistant field staff.
Priorities for investment based
on districts other needs.
2. National Agricultural
Advisory Services – technology
dissemination through the
district National Agricultural
Advisory Services coordinator.
Farmers in district prioritise
which enterprises they require
technical assistance for each
3. NARS – research priorities
based on needs of farmers; and
also on what projects receive
donor funding. Hence, the
interests of the fish farmer may
not get degree of
attention/financing required.
4. Non-Governmental
Organisations – take needs of
community into account but
activities undertaken depend on
the interests of their financiers.
5. Community Based
Organisations – take interests of
local community at heart but
again financing depends on
donor interests.
6. Private sector – invest where
there is opportunity for good
Which organisation leads, coordinates or
The basic institutional framework and roles as
set or assumed directly by the policy is laid out
on the right. Under the current set-up, the DFR
has no direct control over choice of activity;
manner of implementation does as long as the
regulations (Aquaculture Rules) are followed.
Therefore, in setting its objectives it cannot
determine how much of the district budget
should be invested in aquaculture, nor can it
dictate to the farmers, National Agricultural
Advisory Services, NARS, Non-Governmental
Organisations, Community Based
Organisations or the private-sector how much
it should invest in aquaculture – even for high
potential areas.
Hence, while everyone can sing and write
about following government policy even for
aquaculture, none of the primary agencies are
obliged to do anything about it because the
overall Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture’s
objectives, which are the basis of the country’s
rural development plans stress ‘demand-driven,
rural employment, increased incomes, food
security and increased agricultural
productivity’. Choices to invest are therefore
on the whole based on what are locally the
most lucrative and popular enterprises to invest
Who monitors aquaculture development to the
national level? Each agency does its own
monitoring but this information does not
always feed into the central government – or
also equally importantly out to the country,
existing farmers and those who might wish to
invest .. The fact that it is also primarily not
done for central government, the variables may
not meet the needs for national evaluation and
2. The roles (contributions and
responsibilities) of other actors in the
implementation have been mentioned in
extremely general terms. For example, in the
strategy given the fact that in many districts
aquaculture does not yet have developed into
an enterprise that can competitively compete
for grants compared to other agricultural
enterprises, yet it may offer a good potential
opportunity be on competitive – no specific
details are given with regard to ensuring or
enabling local governments/National
Agricultural Advisory Services/NARS invest to
Improvements in the Institutional Framework
This is a paradigm because, while inter-dependence
among the different key players would go a long way in
facilitating implementation to achieve national
objectives, the challenges in the system (corruption of
government officers, communications, inadequate
budgets to undertake overall institutional objectives
effectively) means that the independence of the key
players at the same time enhances the degree of effective
implementation, resource allocation and monitoring
especially at the local level, where it matters most - to
the farmer.
undertake the necessary tasks of technology
adaptation and dissemination. While the overall
mandates of these other institutions require that
they are involved in the development,
dissemination and to a certain level provide
inputs (grants) for enterprise development for
the general good of the public so as to improve
livelihoods, they are evaluated on independent
terms and largely with respect to the spread of
impact irrespective of the enterprise.
Therefore, they rightfully focus on enterprises
that are/ can be adopted and provide improved
incomes and food security for the greater
majority. Aquaculture can only be adopted by
those who can harness adequate amounts of
water year round.
3. The earmarked organisations are limited in
their ability to implement policies or plans
because of limitations in:
- knowledge level of most personnel who have
the responsibility to undertake certain tasks
- financing particularly for tools to undertake
certain tasks (also need to know how to use
them) effectively.
- critical evaluation to assess value for money
and the willingness to accept and correct
mistakes so as to refocus and become more
- conviction that aquaculture can work.
- integrity and work ethics of personnel.
Financial Resources
Primary financial for the
implementation of the policy are
Government of Uganda and
international donor funding
(multilateral and bilateral).
Government funding takes care
of most of the recurrent
expenditure such as salaries,
utilities, etc.
- The amount of financing available to
implement, coordinate and monitor policy
measures and strategy is largely determined on
an annual basis based on the national budget
allocation for that year. Therefore, in some
years a fair amount of financing is obtained and
the following year it might drop which
negatively affects the completion of ongoing
activities as well as the implementation of
those planned for the following year.
- Only donor funded projects tend to have
better guaranteed projected financing levels.
1. It would be important to narrow down the focus to
more critical parameters and undertake to implement
these effectively as Government resources are limited.
2. The flow of funds from any project, including aide to
farmers should be in tandem with production
requirements and associated risks. This means for
example extension services should be available when
required during a production event and not come several
months after possibly when it is no longer applicable
and needs and priorities might have shifted.
3. Effectively engaging the private sector means
quantifiable and qualitative appreciation must be taken
of the risks vis-à-vis immediate and long term returns to
the private sector. This is because unlike government,
the private sector has no buffer to loss. Therefore a
‘real’ critical SWOT analysis should be undertaken
beforehand not one simply done for public relations.
Appropriate measures should then be undertaken to
mitigate against risks and strengthen opportunities so as
to encourage private sector investments. For example, a
company might not want to invest in feed manufacturing
even though it might have the capital because it realises
it does not have the technical capacity to execute the
task effectively. In such a case government could
mitigate against this by helping source and/or co-
financing or finance credible technical assistance.
4.2 National Institutional Frameworks
The major national frameworks under which aquaculture development falls include
the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) and the Plan for Modernization of
Agriculture (PMA) (Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries/MFPED/
These policies and programmes were prepared through consultative processes
involving central and local governments, donors and civil society. Other key
stakeholders in the respective disciplines selected from both the public and private
sectors were also involved. Furthermore, these policies define organisations, which
will take lead in implementation of the various policy interventions, and they have in
place monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. These policies are disseminated at all
levels of the government administrative structures in place, through various ways
which include bulletins, seminars, radio and television talk shows and workshops
among others.
Aquaculture is implied in all policies that pertain to agricultural, industrial and natural
resources development as it is a activity that can impact on the socioeconomic well
being of those directly or indirectly engaged in it.
4.2.1 The Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP)
is the guiding framework for eradicating mass poverty in Uganda. It is the
comprehensive national policy framework which guides development planning in
Uganda and it adopts a multi-sectoral approach, recognizing the multi-dimensional
nature of poverty and the inter-linkages between influencing factors. Therefore, all
policies including aquaculture policies are developed with a clear poverty reduction
goal in mind.
The PEAP is grouped under seven pillars namely, Economic management,
Production, competitiveness and incomes, Security, conflict resolution and disaster
management, Good governance and Human development. Poverty eradication is to
be realized through successful implementation of a number of priorities among which
is the development of the agriculture sector which includes aquaculture. In light of
the fact that the bulk of the population live in rural areas and earn their living from
agriculture, the success of efforts to reduce poverty will depend on increasing
agricultural production and expanding non-farm employment.
Since 1997, PEAP is implemented in 3years intervals and revised in 2000 and later in
2004. The 2004 version of the PEAP expired in June 2007 and a new PEAP-
equivalent, the National Development Plan (NDP) is presently being formulated. The
duration of the last PEAP has been literally extended in order to cover the period until
the entering into force of the NDP. The Poverty Eradication Action Plan can be
accessed on the following website:
4.2.2 The Plan for Modernization of Agriculture (PMA)
The Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture was formulated in 2000 and has no expiry
date. The main objective of PMA is to eradicate poverty, ensure food security, create
gainful employment and manage the resources on a sustainable basis. The PMA is
neither a project nor a programme but it provides the principles and framework for the
design and implementation of programmes and projects that impact on agricultural
based livelihoods.
The key steps in the PMA process involved holding participatory planning retreats,
operationalisation of the Medium Term PMA, holding technical workshops, sector
wide consultations, research and studies, top policy consultations with ministers and
committees of Parliament, district consultations, integration of the PMA into the
Medium Term Expenditure Framework process, presentation of final PMA draft to
the Consultative Group meeting and presentation and approval by Cabinet.
Aquaculture is being addressed under some of the seven priority areas for intervention
under the PMA which include; agricultural research and technology development,
agricultural advisory services, rural financial services, agricultural education,
agricultural marketing and agro-processing, sustainable natural resources management
and supportive physical infrastructure (Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and
MFPED, 2000; 2003).
4.2.3 The National Agricultural Advisory Services (National Agricultural
Advisory Services)
This is one of the priority areas under the Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture
which was set up and established in 2000. It is a government programme managed by
a Secretariat under Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries. National
Agricultural Advisory Services seeks to increase farmer access to information,
knowledge and technology through effective, efficient, sustainable and decentralised
extension with increasing private sector involvement. The programme objectives are;
to promote market oriented/commercial farming; empower subsistence farmers to
access private extension services, technology and market information; and to promote
farmer groups develop capacity to manage farming enterprises. The National
Agricultural Advisory Services also creates options for financing and delivery of
agricultural advice with emphasis on subsistence farmers. The National Agricultural
Advisory Services programme is implemented through components, which include
advisory and information services to farmers, technology development and linkages
with markets, quality assurance regulation and technical auditing of service
providers, private sector institutional development and programme management and
monitoring and evaluation.
The National Agricultural Advisory Services Secretariat has placed extension officers
to work at the sub county level in all the districts where it is operational. Every sub
county receives at least four extension officers specialised in the fields of agriculture,
fisheries, veterinary medicine, forestry and environment.
The institutional framework for the implementation of National Agricultural Advisory
Services constitutes farmer groups and farmer fora, local governments, Non-
Governmental Organisations/Community Based Organisations that serve service
providers, private sector, National Agricultural Advisory Services board and
secretariat and ministries. Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries has
got the overall national responsibility for the programme, with oversight by Ministry
of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. Sub-county and District Local
Councils and Administrations have the responsibility to support and supervise
implementation at their levels. Primary responsibility at grass roots is vested in the
farmer groups that are the prime clients of the advisory services and their elected
Farmer Forums at Sub county, District and National levels. Farmers are empowered
to identify suitable service providers through the Forums. These are then contracted
and supervised by the Local Governments.
4.2.4 Other National Aquaculture Policies, Plans and Programs
Other policies, programmes and plans relating to different aspects of aquaculture
include the aquaculture strategy, the Rural Development Strategy (RDS), the National
Agricultural Research Policy (NARP), and the Uganda Food and Nutrition Policy
(UFNP) among others. All these policies and programmes are derived from and
based upon the basic principles aimed at poverty eradication.
(a) Aquaculture Strategy
A national development strategy for aquaculture is currently being developed with
assistance from FAO. An initial draft has been made based on a review of key
documents. The next planned step is to have a series of stakeholder consultations
regarding the draft before it can be finalized. The key issues proposed upon which
the strategy is to be based to achieve sustainable aquaculture development are; (1)
suitable production systems (2) availability and access to inputs (3) outreach (4)
research (5) education and training (6) marketing (7) producer organizations (8)
regulation and (9) control, monitoring and evaluation (Wathum and Rutaisire, 2008).
(b) The Rural Development Strategy (RDS)
This strategy seeks to increase rural household incomes both through an expansion in
the productivity and production of key agricultural commodities and by facilitating
their efficient marketing. The National Agricultural Advisory Services is
implementing the RDS through the Integrated Support to Farmer Groups (ISFG)
which provides additional inputs to well performing farmer groups for enhanced
productivity including linkages to market opportunities.
The Rural Development Strategy activities are being implemented by the government
through the following:
Provision of support to farmers’ Groups, Associations and Co-operatives in
order to build their capacity;
Enhancing Rural Micro-finance services provision;
Establishment of a Community Information System to report regularly on, for
example, land holding and utilisation, output of various enterprises in crop,
livestock and fisheries sub-sectors;
Enhancement of market access for Agricultural produce through active linkage
of farmer groups and processors/produce buyers
Facilitate the delivery of agricultural inputs through market and other
Agricultural Productivity Enhancement through demand driven agricultural
Agro-industrial development through enhanced support to research and
development of agro-processing prototypes and implementing appropriate
processor-producer linkages and
Support to Uganda National Bureau of Standards for quality control and
(c) The Marketing and Agro-Processing Strategy (MAPS)
Marketing and Agro-Processing Strategy was developed by Ministry of Tourism,
Trade and Industries (MTTI) for implementation under the Plan for Modernisation of
Agriculture. It is expected to link producers to consumers, both domestic and foreign,
and to combine with strategies for processing to add value, reduce bulk and increase
shelf life. It lays emphasis on five areas for interventions, which include:
Developing a trade policy and building capacity for trade policy analysis and
Development of market infrastructure including establishment of an Agricultural
Commodity Exchange (ACE) and a Warehouse Receipt System (WRS).
Promotion of farmer groups, associations and co-operatives to enhance the
capacity for the production of high and regular volumes of reliable quality
standards and strengthening the bargaining position of the smallholder farmers.
Provision of market information and promoting the use of price risk instruments.
Development of the agro-processing sub-sector, exploiting avenues for value
addition and enhancing Uganda’s product competitiveness in the local, regional
and international markets.
Few of the intervention areas under MAPS have been successfully addressed namely
developing a trade policy and building capacity for trade policy analysis and
negotiations. Other interventions are being implemented although at a limited scale.
Work on establishing an ACE and WRS is in progress.
(d) The Competitiveness and Investment Climate Strategy, (CICS)
The Competitiveness and Investment Climate Strategy 2006-2010, under the Ministry
of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (Ministry of Finance, Planning and
Economic Development), represents the second phase of Uganda’s competitiveness
agenda and follows the Medium Term Competitiveness Strategy, 2000 2005. The
CICS is the main framework for ensuring the delivery of interventions for enhancing
competitiveness particularly through Public-Private-Partnerships. CICS aims to
address the following:
Articulating the national agenda for improving competitiveness and the
investment climate,
Guiding medium term public expenditure decisions towards the priority
investments required to ensure an improved competitiveness environment,
Providing for the strengthening and formalising of the public/private
partnerships required to implement the strategy
And defining a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework for the
measurement of progress in implementing policy actions.
The strategy recognises that in international markets, Uganda’s competitive advantage
lies in products which are based on domestically produced inputs and raw materials,
as well as those which have high value-weight ratios like fish. Under this programme,
strategies to increase fish production and exports have been proposed among which is
to develop the aquaculture sub sector. The document can be found at
(e) The National Export Strategy (NES)
A National Export Strategy-2008-2012 is a country’s blueprint for its export
development agenda and it lays down the principles, policies, targets and general
action plans to achieve sustainable growth of exports. The vision of the NES is to see
a dynamic and competitive export-driven economy, national prosperity and
development. The Strategy focuses on twelve commodities namely coffee, fish,
cotton, textiles and garments, tea, floriculture, services, fruits and vegetables, dairy,
cereals, pulses and oil seeds, natural ingredients for the food pharmaceuticals, and
cosmetics, commercial handicrafts and manufacturing sectors. The NES was
launched in 2007 and it is intended to achieve a strategically diversified range of
products from agricultural commodities with significant value added, in the quality
and volumes that allow for a competitive presence in international markets. The NES
fits into the existing National policy/planning frameworks like the Poverty
Eradication Action Plan (PEAP).
A major NES initiative for the proposed strategy integrated management framework
is country wide expansion of fish sector activities through aquaculture promotion.
The NES can be accessed online from the Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB)
(f) The National Agricultural Research Policy (NARP)
The objectives of this policy are to promote delivery of quality and efficient
agricultural research services, empowering farmers by involving them in identifying
and prioritising their research needs and procuring research services. The policy
provides guidance to the NARS in formulation and rationalisation of agricultural
research programmes, utilising the best of science for implementation of research
programmes, and put in place a sustainable funding mechanism that will harness
resources from both the local and international, public and private sectors for
agricultural research. Fisheries and aquaculture are considered components of
(g) The Uganda Food and Nutrition Policy (UFNP)
The overall goal of the Uganda Food and Nutrition Policy is to ensure food security
and adequate nutrition for all the people in Uganda, for their health as well as their
social and economic well-being. The overall objective of the policy is to promote the
nutritional status of the people of Uganda through multi-sectoral and coordinated
interventions that focus on food security, improved nutrition and increased incomes.
The specific objectives of this policy are to ensure availability, accessibility,
affordability of food in the quantities and qualities sufficient to satisfy the dietary
needs of individuals, promote good nutrition of all the population and incorporate
food and nutrition issues in the national, district, sub-county and sectoral development
plans. Further, the policy will ensure food and income security at household, sub-
county, district and national levels for improving the nutrition as well as the socio-
economic status of the population, and to monitor the food and nutrition policy
situation in the country. In this context, fish is considered a nutritious food that
should be accessible to the population but the means of its production and distribution
are not specifically addressed as it is assumed to be covered in the activities of the
Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.
(h) The National Environment Management Policy
The overall goal of this policy is sustainable social economic development, which
maintains or enhances environmental quality or resource productivity on a long term
basis and which meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the
ability of the future generations to meet their needs. The National Environment
Management Policy sets out the overall policy goals, objectives and principles for
environmental management in Uganda. The overall policy goal is: “Sustainable
social and economic development, which maintains or enhances environmental
quality and resource productivity on a long-term basis that meets the needs of the
present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet
their own needs.”
The policy seeks to achieve the following objectives:
(i) Enhance the health and quality of life of all people in Uganda and
promote long-term and sustainable socio-economic development
through sound environmental and natural resource management and
(ii) Integrate environmental concerns in all development policies, planning
and activities at national, district and local levels, with full
participation of the people;
(iii) Conserve, preserve and restore ecosystems and maintain ecological
processes and life support systems, especially conservation of national
biological diversity;
(iv) Optimize resource use and achieve a sustainable level of resource
(v) Raise public awareness to understand and appreciate linkages between
environment and development; and
(vi) Ensure individual and community participation in environmental
improvement activities.
For aquaculture therefore, this offers an opportunity to develop and safeguard the
implementation of environmentally sustainable production systems. The ecosystems
under which aquaculture undertaken however, have yet to be classified with respect to
their environmental capacity to sustain certain types and volumes of aquaculture.
(i) The National Industrial Policy
This policy was adopted in 2008 and it sets out the strategic direction for industrial
development in Uganda for the next ten years and the set principles are expected to be
sufficiently robust to guide Uganda well beyond that period. The vision of this policy
is to build the industrial sector into a modern, competitive and dynamic sector fully
integrated into the domestic, regional and global economies. The objectives aim at:
1. Exploiting and developing natural domestic resource-based industries and
promoting competitive industries that use local raw materials.
2. Agro-processing focusing on food processing, leather and leather products,
textiles and garments, sugar, dairy products, and value addition in niche
3. Knowledge based industries such as ICT, call centers and pharmaceuticals that
exploit knowledge in science, technology and innovation
4. Engineering for capital goods, agricultural implements, construction,
materials, and fabrication / ‘Jua Kali’ operations.
This policy can be accessed at
Such small-scale industries provide opportunity for rural employment with respect to
processing and marketing of aquaculture products as well as the fabrication of tools
and maintenance of equipment for aquaculture.
(j) The Water for Production Strategy and Investment Plan
The Water for Production Strategy and Investment plan (2005-2015) highlights the
long-term objective of providing water for agricultural production as: "To promote
development of water supply for agricultural production in order to modernize
agriculture and mitigate effects of climatic variations on rain-fed agriculture".
Specifically, this includes provision of Water for Livestock, Irrigation, aquaculture
and water supply for rural industry. The strategic inventions proposed under the
strategy include improved access to water for livestock in the cattle corridor as well as
in other districts; dissemination of small scale irrigation technologies; promotion of
small scale aquaculture in ponds and culture-based fisheries in existing reservoirs; and
creation of more attractive investment climate for private investment.
(k) The Decentralization Policy
Decentralization is a national policy officially launched in 1992. The decentralization
process has involved substantial transfers of political, financial and planning
responsibilities from the Central Government to Local Councils. This empowers the
Local Governments (districts, sub-counties and urban authorities) to take increasing
responsibility for the delivery of services and promotion of popular participation and
empowerment of local people in decision making. Decentralization is based on the
premise that local authorities are better placed to respond to the needs of local
communities who can, in turn, easily hold them accountable for use of public
resources resulting in a more equitable allocation of resources among district and
within sub-counties.
Actual implementation and delivery of agricultural services is left to the local
governments. Thus, the local governments are free to choose different ways of
implementing the programs based on the client needs in their districts, while the
Central Government is expected to offer policy guidance and define expected outputs
and how the policy is monitored. Thus policy formulation by the center is undertaken
through a participatory process involving the local governments and other key
stakeholders and communicated widely. As required by law, the Central Government
in consultation with the districts mobilizes resources and channels them to the districts
through conditional, unconditional and equalization grants to supplement locally
generated resources for effective implementation of the Plan for Modernisation of
(l) The Land policy and land use policy
The Government through the Ministry of Water Lands and Environment in 2000
initiated the development of the Land Sector Strategic Plan (LSSP) to provide the
operational institutional and financial framework for implementing sector wide
reforms and land management. The Land Sector Strategic Plan also provides the
basis for implementing the Land Act and sets out several initiatives and strategies for
achieving its vision of utilizing Uganda’s resources productively and sustainably for
security of livelihoods and poverty eradication. The National Land policy is supposed
to be a systematic framework for addressing such issues as land ownership,
distribution, utilization, management and control and the role of land in national
(m) The National Policy on Delivery of Veterinary Services
The National Policy for the Delivery of Veterinary Services (2001) was put in place to
improve delivery of veterinary services with the overall goal of increasing production
and productivity of livestock with cognizance of the factors of health and
environment. The Policy emphasizes four main areas; one is on promotion of
effective provision of veterinary services nationwide, including the more remote areas
where the bulk of the animals are held and husbanded by pastoralists; two is on
promotion and the development of an effective and efficient system of veterinary
service delivery; three is on making the role of public services in veterinary service
clearer, more efficient and more sustainable; and four is on enhancing the
effectiveness of all cadres of veterinary service provides.
(n) National Veterinary Drug Policy (2002)
The main areas which the National Veterinary Drug Policy (2002) covers include;
veterinary drug supply, legislation and inspection, licensing of veterinary drugs
outlets, disposal of expired or unwanted veterinary drugs and waste material,
monitoring of drug residuals in foods of animal origin, quality assurance of veterinary
drugs, veterinary drug information management system, research in veterinary drugs
and ethno veterinary medicine and correct use of veterinary drugs. These policy areas,
if implemented, are aimed at increasing livestock productivity for the economic
benefit of those dependent on livestock without compromising health and
environmental concerns.
(o) The Animal Feeds Policy
The aim of this policy is to develop an animal feeds industry that contributes
significantly to improved animal production and productivity. Infrastructure,
technology, information, weak market problems and access to finance are some of the
constraints identified, which the policy takes into account when seeking a solution.
(p) The Uganda National Water Policy
The constitution of the Republic of Uganda recognizes that every person is entitled to
clean and safe water. A National Water Policy (NWP) was adopted in 1999 and it
provides the overall policy framework for the water sector. The overall policy
objective is to manage and develop the water resources of Uganda in an integrated
and sustainable manner, so as to secure and provide water of adequate quantity and
quality for all social and economic needs, with the full participation of all
stakeholders, and so as not to leave the future generations any worse off than
ourselves”. The NWP realizes the multidisciplinary and multifaceted use of water and
thus promotes the principles of integrated water resources management as a means to
ensuring sustainable management and utilization of Uganda’s water resources. The
policy also emphasizes the recognition of water as being both a social and economic
good, whose allocation should give first priority to domestic use.
The NWP is backed by the Water Act CAP 152, which replaced the Water Statute.
The Water Statute provides for establishment of a Water Policy Committee (WPC),
whose overall responsible is setting national policies, standards and priorities,
including coordinating revisions to legislation and regulations, and coordinating
sector ministries’ plans and projects which affect water resources. In addition, it
mediates dispute between agencies and co-ordinate the formulation of an international
water resources policy.
The National Water Policy covers two distinct national policy categories:
(i) Water resources management - This category covers Uganda’s national
water policy principles relating to policy objectives, principles and
strategies for monitoring, assessment, allocation and protection of water
resources as well as the institutional framework;
(ii) Water development and use - This category deals with the policy
objectives, principles and strategies for the development and use of water
for domestic water supply, water for agricultural production and other
water uses such as hydropower, recreation and ecosystem needs.
These larger policy frameworks can augment sectoral aquaculture development in that
they look at the utilization of resources beyond the confines of the farm and primary
production – notably processing, manufacture, marketing, natural resource use and
management as well as building up capacity among the population to engage in and
exploit opportunities directly or indirectly associated with aquaculture, e.g. service
provision. However, specific address has yet to be made to aquaculture’s needs.
5.0 Strengths and Weaknesses of Existing National Policies, Plans and
Programmes on Aquaculture
In the analysis of the national policies, plans and programmes on aquaculture, a
number of strengths and weaknesses were identified. These are summarised in the
Table 4.2 below.
Table 4.2: Strengths and weaknesses identified in the national policies, plans and
programmes, on aquaculture
General Overview
Government has endeavored to put in place
comprehensive programmes aimed at
building human resource capacity at the
district level for planning, budgeting and
program implementation in order to ensure
efficient resource use and management at
this level. It is also working on building
capacity for staff at the sub-county level to
ensure efficient delivery of services to the
Government has reviewed the criteria for
conditional and equalization grant
allocation in order to ensure that Plan for
Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA)
activities are funded adequately. Also
under the PMA, the Government has
introduced a non-sectoral conditional grant
for the implementation of bottom up
planning for poverty eradication.
Local governments are now being managed
and run by popularly and democratically
elected councils from the village to the
district level
The decentralisation policy is also
providing a framework for the
implementation of various policy
programmes of Government such as the
PMA, National Agricultural Advisory
Services (National Agricultural Advisory
Services), Rural Water and Sanitation
among others.
Inadequate human resource capacity to
implement the various programmes at
the district and sub-county levels.
Most districts still depend largely on
transfers from the centre.
Although agriculture is one of the
priority areas for funding, in most
districts agriculture, particularly
extension lags behind the other areas,
i.e., roads, health, evaluation and
New districts, particularly those
located in remote areas without
adequate infrastructure, are less likely
to attract qualified and experienced
National Institutional Frameworks (Poverty Eradication Action Plan, Plan for
Modernisation of Agriculture & National Agricultural Advisory Services)
Strengths Weaknesses
The Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP)
Implementation of the PEAP activities
within the agriculture sector indicates
positive trends in fisheries.
More assistance in the form of direct
investment into the private sector for
aquaculture development is required.
The Plan for Modernisati
on of Agriculture (PMA)
The PMA is to eradicate poverty by
transforming subsistence agriculture to
commercial agriculture.
Most of the plans and strategies are being
implemented within the PMA framework.
The PMA implementation features a
multisectoral comportment and occurs in a
hierarchical fashion with activities taking
place at national, sub national and grass
root level.
There is little or no specific mention of
aquaculture in the PMA, though it is
indirectly implied, under agriculture.
A detailed evaluation of the PMA in
mid-2005 noted that there has been
confusion over the function of the
PMA, highly uneven roll-out of pillars
reducing impact.
There is weak co-ordination at the
local government level and insufficient
emphasis on some of the identified
constraints and weaknesses in
Some level of mismatch between
stakeholder and beneficiary
expectations and the time period in
which implementation would manifest
impact especially in the areas of
poverty reduction.
The National Agricultural Advisory Services (National Agricultural Advisory
The National Agricultural Advisory Service
coverage increased both at district and sub-
county level. According to the National
Agricultural Advisory Services secretariat, the
program has reached 79 districts, 720 sub
counties and all the 10 agro-zones of Uganda.
The joint evaluation of 2006 found
that despite National Agricultural
Advisory Services enterprise selection
being conducted in an apparently
participatory manner, the technologies
available to farmer groups are still
limited to only three enterprises,
choice of which is dependent upon the
farmers in the area. This leads to
similar enterprises being selected
across National Agricultural Advisory
districts, with litt
opportunity to support marginal
enterprises, or enterprises that may be
attractive to only a small sub-set of
Aquaculture is not among the top ten
priority enterprises selected by farmers
Other National Aquaculture Policies, Pla
ns and Programs
The Water Policy
Community and local committees are supposed
to monitor activities having local impacts on
water resources such as use of wetlands,
forests and dumping of wastes and report to
the District
No framework for this communication
from the communities and possible
feedback from the District
The intention of the policy with respect to
water supply and sanitation is to enable the
government to meet target goals set in Uganda
National Plan of Action for Children, UNPAC
This statement is no longer valid since the
water supply and sanitation target goals
are aimed at meeting the MDGs (global)
and the Poverty Eradication Action Plan
Preservation and protection of the environment
to be ensured through Environmental Impact
Assessment approved by NEMA
Many water related projects are still
undertaken without Environmental
Impact Assessment (EIA)
Many industries are set up without
EIA and this has impacted a lot on
water resources
The policy emphasizes research and
development of appropriate technologies
There is no framework or programme to
implement this. The Ministry of water and
its various directorates do not have a
research arm/department
The available indicators for
successful implementation of the
NWP are applicable at National
level and do not address trans-
boundary issues.
The role of the private sector and
civil society does not clearly come
out in the NWP and the support
legal framework
The policy does not provide
mechanisms for coordination and
harmonization of divergent
objectives, principles and policies
of the various agencies involved in
water resources related issues at
different levels.
The policy does recognize the challenges
of balancing economic and social benefits
and balancing national and regional
interests, strategies to address them are
lacking in the policy.
The Land Policy
Land tenure security and citizens’ private
ownership of land is well catered for.
The policy pursues a market based reform by
making land transferable to willing buyers.
There is still limited appreciation,
knowledge and understanding of some
environmental processes, laws and
Provides for participation of all stakeholders in
effective use and management of land
resources. Substantive improvements have
been made in the management of land and its
allied resources.
There also is a lot of land fraud.
Although relevant laws are in place,
implementation is still a challenge due
to such factors as uneven monitoring
and enforcement.
Land policy formulation and reforms,
given the central importance of land, is
often be surrounded by conflict,
tension, and resistance.
Most policies affecting land use are
found in different national policies and
plans, which have been found to
conflict, resulting into institutional
rivalry and implementation problems.
National Environment Management Policy
The policy recognizes the differences in
Uganda’s agro-ecological endowments.
No zoning of geographic areas for
aquaculture areas and for particular breeds
since not all breeds can adapt to all
The policy environment recognizes the
differences in Uganda’s agro-ecological
endowments. However, farming systems must
recognise this and where necessary
geographical areas should be zoned for fish
farming and for particular breeds since not all
breeds can adapt to all environments.
No policy efforts in place to regulate the
efficient use of fish by-products in order to
avoid wastage, but also to protect the
There is lack of a clear policy to promote
environmental assessments on the
geographical and climatic adaptability of
fish breeds and provide appropriate advice
to the farmers.
Competitiveness and Investment Climate Strategy
Fish is ranked the third sub sector in the
contribution of agricultural sector to
competitiveness 2006-2010. This is after
coffee and cotton.
This contribution is mainly from capture
fisheries. The contribution of aquaculture
in particular is not specified here.
A total of 29 aquaculture rules were set in 2003 by the government of Uganda
(Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries) to guide the sector in
production and marketing of aquaculture products. However, a review carried out in
2006 by a USAID-FISH project indicated that most farmers had complaints about
most of these rules. The recommendation was that aquaculture will eventually require
an Aquaculture Development Authority, which is run by farmers and sets and
maintains standards and codes of practice.
Aquaculture rules
were set and in place
Rules are written in a manner that deprives the farmers of
ownership of their own property
The rules are not able to function hand-in-hand with
private entrepreneur rules. The way they are written is
rather impeding and not favourable for the majority of
Some rules need to be given serious attention like
defining some objectives, phrases and terminologies
The document makes reference to aquaculture officers
and yet there are no qualified or designated aquaculture
This was put in place in 1951 to make provision for the control of fishing, the
conservation of fish, the purchase, sale, marketing and processing of fish, and matters
connected therewith.
The Act exists to
make provision for
the control of fishing,
the conservation of
fish, the purchase,
sale, marketing and
processing of fish,
and matters
connected therewith.
It is outdated because the commencem
ent date was in
1951 and since then many things have changed, e.g. the
amount charged for committing an offence is negligible
Aquaculture not given special attention. The Act mainly
addresses fisheries
Some statements are rigid, with no room for negotiation in
case unrealistic decisions are taken by the fisheries
officers. Use of vessels only restricted to licensed person
and no borrowing.
Not favouring efficient aquaculture systems because the
exercise is time consuming in case the farmers are
neighbours and the fisheries officers are far from the area
of operation
Chief Fisheries officers given too much powers especially
for licensing
General weaknesses in the Policies
(i) There are constant political interventions in policy work. As a result, some
policies can be made for particular political intentions and do not necessarily
take into consideration important issues.
(ii) The level of linkages between these policies is insufficient. In some instances,
there may be no clear line ministry to take charge of the policy. For example,
to- date Uganda has a number of line ministries each responsible in one way or
another for different issues. Much as this could provide an opportunity for
synergy, at implementation it is often not clear who ought to take the lead. The
roles of these ministries in and how they relate to each other are not properly
(iii)Many policies that directly or indirectly affect the process and the outcomes of
planning and policy formulation are scattered in different government
departments and are made independent of each other. The result is
individualistic departmental approaches that are pursued by each specific
sector with little if any consideration of what the other departments are doing.
This has had multiple effects; in some instances, implications of different
policies have been contradictory where in others there has been duplication of
work, which is a misuse of the country’s already meager resources.
(iv) Most of these policies address agriculture in general and hence do not make a
distinction between various types in production and marketing practices of
(v) Most of these objectives do not indicate a clear vision regarding the desired
development of aquaculture, although the objectives are well defining the
expected results in a given time period and the target groups are not well
General Strengths in the policies
(i) Most of the policies and programmes were formulated with some level of
participatory process, which involved key stakeholders in the respective
disciplines. Furthermore, these policies define organizations, which will take
the lead in implementation of the various policy interventions, and they have
in place monitoring mechanisms. The most comprehensively publicly
evaluated plan that has adapted stakeholder views is the Plan for
Modernisation of Agriculture (MFPED, 2000; 2002; 2003
(ii) Aquaculture does exist within the fisheries policy.
In general,
Most of the policies and plans are written in extremely general terms. Some do
have time frames, but the fisheries policy which covers aquaculture more
specifically does not. This limits possibilities for stipulated periods of review and
re-dress if need be for such policies without specific time frames.
The consultation processes for some of the policies has been really good and open
while for others it has not been the case. The development of the Plan for
Modernization was an exemplary example. In some cases stakeholders are only
asked to come in, because in the final reports there must be indication of
stakeholder consultation.
Few of the plans and strategies specifically address aquaculture. However, this
requires a concerted effort on the part of those directly responsible of aquaculture
development to engage actively in a constructive manner with those departments
that cover the other key areas of sectoral development. For example, they could
work closely with the Ministry of Trade and Industry to help work out incentives
for the private sector to invest in commercial feed manufacture; including the
formulation of their related policies.
While poverty alleviation is a relevant overall goal for national investment in
aquaculture, policy and planning for developing aquaculture should take into
account the likely opportunists and risks vis-à-vis their possibilities of having a
tangible positive effect on the livelihoods and well-being of those directly
engaged in it as well as the community. Specific and relevant steps need to be
identified and implemented with milestones to address key issues in the sector
within given timeframes.
Government documents can be purchased from the Government Printer and
Uganda Bookshop by members of the public. Some documents are also available
on the internet. However, the actual reading and referral to the policies is largely
by those at management levels within Government, Non-Governmental
Organization or by those involved in formulating development projects.
Dissemination and dispersal of these documents to a wider stakeholder base is
6.0. Opportunities and Proposals for the Improvement of Existing
Policies, Plans and Programmes
The opportunities for the improvement of the existing policies with specific reference
to aquaculture are elaborated in Table 4.1.
In addition:
1. Sectoral Approach to Development with Emphasis on Building the
Capabilities of the Private Sector
A sectoral approach to aquaculture development should be taken beyond just the
confines of the farmer. Already there is a broad framework of policies upon which
this can be built and implemented. But what must be taken into account is that the
real people who cause the change are the private sector which includes the farmers,
markets, manufacturers, processors, financiers, other key service providers such as
engineering, animal health practitioners, trainers, etc. Without constructively
engaging them in and ignoring their needs when it comes to human resource
development and only invest in the personnel working in the public sector has
definitely done a great disservice when it comes to getting aquaculture off the ground.
These are the implementers. Having written policies and plans does not result into
production. Private sector initiatives must predominate in plans and programmes.
More support to government needs to be made directly to private sector.
2. National Agricultural Advisory Services and Research
Agricultural advisory services has links and provides linkages with the research,
farmers, markets as well as training institutions and policy makers. These need to be
strengthened to achieve the results of and be evaluated as in 1 above. There is need
for actual hard data to be collected and used in policy formulation and training
material for farmers and professionals. Research for the primary fish being cultured
should specifically be geared to addressing bottlenecks in the production systems
being employed so that they become more productive, profitable and sustainable.
Zoning of aquaculture areas, particularly for the large water bodies initially in the
event that cage culture is to be adopted beyond the pilot phase is among the key
7.0. Restrictions and Opportunities Contained in Other Sectoral Policies,
Plans and Programmes; Possibilities for harmonisation.
In general the other sectoral policies provide a good supportive environment for
aquaculture sectoral development. All the policies reviewed are extremely broad and
allow scope for one to undertake their tasks. The key issue is the lack of a specific
aquaculture policy and strategy which limits how these sectors can fully engage with
aquaculture. With this in mind consideration should also be given to:
1. Policies
Aquaculture is always embedded within the fisheries policies and plans, as a minority
activity and in extremely general terms yet the issues with aquaculture for the
stakeholders are specific and often are issues that can be quantified. The finalizing of
the aquaculture strategy needs to be expedited with this in mind.
Currently, sectoral policies are made by the line ministries with some stakeholder
consultation. A specific policy for aquaculture needs to be made taking advantage of
this good will, but because for example one cannot do aquaculture without water, key
sectors need to directly be involved not just as spectators but as co-managers of the
sector. Therefore, they too should be made actively responsible with duties for the
direction aquaculture development takes and the manner in which aquaculture is
implemented. The Fisheries Department alone cannot do this as it is not responsible
for managing the other resources upon which aquaculture is directly dependant.
2. Finance
Rural finance systems are in place in some areas and have yielded some positive
results in some aspects. Encouraging more of the smallholder farmers to save coupled
with creating credit facilities favorable to aquaculture production; marketing and input
supply would help. However, this only works if the production systems as well as
value chains are profitable and viable. This means that production technologies must
be economically viable as the enterprise must be in a position to afford credit. It also
implies that all interventions should be evaluated as such, be they development or
research projects, plans, policies and programs. Rural finance schemes can be worked
out including extension services.
3. Training and Technology Transfer – Research targeted to End Users
This needs to be made more appropriate with a focus on practical application rather
than theory. Practitioners need to have knowledge and training focused on addressing
the issues in the value chain today. In addition to professionals, farmers too need
some level of practical knowledge if they are to be in a position to effectively run a
viable enterprise no matter the scale.
4. Marketing and Entrepreneurship
This needs to be built upon, for all levels. Training of Fisheries Officers is currently
lacking as their training only includes biological aspects yet their counterparts in the
other agricultural fields are additionally trained in farm management and production
economics. The key skills of how to actually run a farm and its finances, to write
simple cost benefit analyses and to assess profitability are crucial. Also lack of
marketing and markets based training are constraining farmers. Identifying and then
developing key markets for selling their fish are rarely taught. Confidence and
knowledge of a fish farmer or prospective fish farmer that he/she will be able to sell
particular volumes of fish over a seasonal basis thus guaranteeing an income is
extremely important. Provision of markets information to farmers is key in this. Small
holder farmers need these skills too. Policies, plans and programmes only mention
these in very general terms but not to the specific needs of the producers in the sector.
Therefore the new aquaculture strategy should take this up in collaboration with the
Competitiveness and Investment Climate Strategy (CICS) plan for example.
8.0. Gaps, Needs and Priorities for a Future National Research and
Development Agenda on Aquaculture
1. Policy and Policy Formulation
No Specific Aquaculture Policy nor National Plan or Strategy for Aquaculture
Development in Place. The current policy under which aquaculture is embedded is
the National Fisheries Policy. Given the track record of poor performance despite the
promising potential of aquaculture, it is apparent that specific policies and strategies
through which the major bottlenecks hindering the progress of aquaculture
development in the country can be addressed are necessary. In addition, the interests
of aquaculture should specifically be mentioned in other sectoral policies particularly
those key to its execution, notably water resource use. This is because aquaculture
mainly depends upon having access to water of good quality. So in some cases,
producers might require protection from other users whose activities might result in a
deterioration of water volume and quality.
Source of Information and Process of Policy Development. Currently, much of the
information used to formulate policies is qualitative based on literature reviews,
interviews and stakeholder workshops. Hardly any hard data from the field feeds into
the development of policies, strategies and plans. Thus the extremely broad nature in
which objectives are spelt out. For example, according to the National Fisheries
Policy, the targeted aquaculture production increase 2004 to 2014 is from 2,000 mt to
100,000mt. However, what was the basis for this decision, vis-à-vis the current levels
of production technology and resources at hand? It is difficult to assess how realistic
this is when translated into the required production area as quantity of fish seed and
feed that shall be required. Assuming average feed conversion ratios of 2:1, this
implies that the country should be in position to produce at least 200,000 tons of feed
by 2014 – but the policy does not stipulate what investment incentives there are
towards this, other than the statement that ‘role of the private sector to invest in feed
making’. Achieving this objective is therefore not guaranteed. The ability of
stakeholders (not just government personnel) to collect, analyse and use data to make
management decisions needs to be improved and encouraged. Credible systems
through which accurate aquaculture data does feed back to public institutions for
policy formulation need to be worked upon. Government already has in place
institutions that could do this for aquaculture, such as through the Uganda Bureau of
Statistics ( ). What would be required is that the data and information
requirements for aquaculture be clearly presented to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.
A good example here is the Vietnamese government statistics website through its
Ministry of Statistics, , this is
available to all and is simple and easy to use and contains a variety of up to date and
past stats on agricultural, fisheries, aquaculture as well as socio-economics and
industrial development data
It is a government pre-requisite that all policies and programs are developed in a
transparent and participatory manner with stakeholders. However, the level to which
this is done is sometimes limited by resources available. In addition, when it comes
to selecting who the appropriate stakeholders are, the manner in which they are
selected sometimes is deliberate and farmers in particular have complained that their
invitation and presence to such workshops is simply for ‘accountability purposes’.
So, the official can say that they did engage stakeholders but their interests at times
never really come out in the final official documents. Hence the setting of goals that
are unlikely to be met in reality.
Policy formulation should therefore be based on actual field data augmented by
stakeholder consultations.
Appropriateness of Implementation Frameworks and Strategies. Current draft
strategies focus at defining the roles of the different parties, notably government,
private sector and civil society, i.e. what each sector should do. But then, no previous
assessment is ever done about what it would take or what is actually required for each
sector to effectively accomplish its ‘roles’. For example one must appreciate that the
private sector incurs risks when undertaking certain activities and is unlikely to take
this risk if it is high and returns cannot be quantified with relative certainty. So for
example, if government would like the private sector to invest in feed manufacture,
what risks are involved? What support do the private sector require to mitigate these
risks (could be technical advice, training, etc.)? What proportion of risk can the
private sector afford to take? Very few farmers, for example can afford to go for
technology generation individually or in partnership with the public sector, especially
given the current levels of production and status of the sector (Baliirwa, pers com). To
make a strategy assigning research roles to the private sector be it in partnership with
the public sector therefore is unrealistic and becomes something unlikely to
materialise in the short or medium term unless attitudes and practices change.
Furthermore, when policies, programs or plans are being implemented, focus should
not just be on the resources but on the impact of the manner in which their
management and implementation is designed on the flow of aquaculture goods,
services and production. For example, giving promised grants to farmers to purchase
fingerlings one year after you have asked them to repair their ponds, releasing funds
for researchers to visit and sample trial farmers ponds eight months after the start of
the trails etc. So in some cases, it is not that efforts are not made to undertake certain
tasks, but the modes of implementation become bottlenecks. This means those in
administrative roles must be knowledgeable and appreciative of the requirements of
the implementers and in most cases, must schedule their activities to ensure tasks get
accomplished and objective are met within the stipulated time frame.
Resources Available for Effective Implementation. While finances are not always the
predominant factor causing failure, it is true that finances to implement tasks
including within the private sector are limited. The finance policy conflicts with the
PMA as the funds are not enough.
Functional Linkages with other Departments and Policies. As has been highlighted
above, linkages in polices can be improved. It is important that this be done because
the primary goods and services upon which the development of an aquaculture sector
depends are not managed by the fisheries department.
Therefore, it is recommended that in all cases, be it for policies, strategies or plans
there ideally should be (Baliirwa, pers com):
STEP I: A SWOT analysis involving farmers, policy makers, researcher, industry
and other key stakeholders
STEP II: Baseline on the status of the sector with rigorous quantification (how many
ponds?, real production figures?, current risks of production?)
STEP III: Identification, categorisation and quantification of basic needs vis-à-vis
potential impact on production and sustainability both in the short and long-term as
1. Stakeholder needs.
2. Technological needs.
3. Researchable issues.
4. Information needs.
5. Extension needs.
6. Economic needs.
For all the projects, plans undertaken for aquaculture, there has been no rigorous
Baseline study, SWOT or stakeholder analysis. Everyone talks of public sector-
private sector partnerships. But the question ‘What is actually involved in this
partnership and what dimensions should it take in order that