Hungarians, Chinese Set to Open Up Fish Projects in Katonga, Lwera

1925 Views Mpigi, Uganda

In short
Dr. Rukunya says the two projects are part of governments efforts to improve the livelihood of fishing communities around Lake Victoria and other water bodies.

Government has approved a group of investors from Hungary and China to set up multi billion Shillings fish projects in River Katonga area and Lwera wetland in Mpigi District, Uganda Radio Network has learnt.  
 

Information from the Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Ministry indicates that government is set to allocate more than 700 acres of land in the fragile water catchment area for the projects. The Hungarians and Chinese are expected to invest Shillings 22 billion and Shillings 1.4 trillion (US$400M) in the projects respectively.

 
The investors are expected to use the fish cage farming technology, which allows them to hang fish cages in the Lake with each carrying up to 10.000 fingerlings. Dr. Edward Rukunya, the Fisheries Resource Director in Ministry of Agriculture has confirmed the development.
 
 
He says they will soon start surveying the land and carry out the Environment Impact Assessment. Dr. Rukunya says the two projects are part of government's efforts to improve the livelihood of fishing communities around Lake Victoria and other water bodies.

 
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Rukunya also notes that the projects will use a nucleolus model where the investors will set up major facilities and central fish farms but also empower satellite farmers who will be selling their fish to the factories.

 
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He says despite the high demand for Uganda's fish oversees, little has been done to promote aquaculture and fish farming to meet the demand. Rukunya is confident that the proposed projects will boost Uganda's fish exports to over one million metric turns annually from the current 12,000 metric tons.
 
Records from the Ministry show that fish farming supports 4.2million smallholder farmers in the country. The fish sub-sector alone earns Uganda around US$116 million annually contributing about 13 percent on the country's Gross Domestic Product. 
 
The proposed projects have drawn criticism from environmentalists, saying they are likely to compromise the biodiversity around Lake Victoria, River Katonga and Lwera wetlands.
 
David Kureeba, an environmentalist and programme coordinator in the National Association of Professional Environmentalists-NAPE, says the move to destabilize the Lake Victoria catchment area poses a gross risk to the country.
 
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Although Agriculture Ministry officials assert that an Environment Impact Assessment-EIA will be done to ensure that nature is not compromised, Kureeba says the argument is futile since EIAs are always done in favor of the developer.
 
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The projects have drawn mixed reactions from the fishing communities in Mpigi district. Some farmers say the projects could be good for the sector, but many others are worried that they may lose their jobs. Kenneth Agaba, a leader at Ssenyondo landing site, believes government can't introduce something that isn't beneficial to the population.

 
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On the contrary, Meddie Ssentuwa, a fisherman says if government is after improving their livelihood and boasting fish production in the country, it should have empowered local investors instead of bringing foreign investors.