Until recently, fish was the most readily affordable animal protein for at least 80% of the population. However, due to decline of supplies from capture fisheries and the slow growth of aquaculture, the contribution of fish protein is decreasing and there is currently a gap of approximately 330,000 t in annual fish production. Although there is a vast potential for aquaculture production in Uganda, aquaculture is largely land based and practiced on small scattered unproductive pond systems, with about 2000 fish farmers owning at least 5000 ponds (DFR, 2012). The need to increase fish production is becoming increasingly urgent as the population is growing by 3.5% p.a. and the per capita fish consumption (10 kg) is already well below the minimum (25 kg) recommended by FAO. Nonetheless, cage culture a more productive fish culture technology is emerging with an estimate of 750 cages owned by private groups or individual farmers. Emergence of cage culture technology can now be seen as a blessing for increasing fish production to the desired levels if embraced, by fully utilizing the naturally occurring under utilized water resources for commercial aquaculture.
In order to attain the FAO recommended per capita fish consumption of 25 kg, Uganda requires at least an additional 330,000 t of fish annually for its population of 34 million (UBOS, 2012). Current aquaculture production meets only 10% of the fish gap, and more aggressive efforts are required to efficiently increase sustainable production. The country has a significant potential for increasing fish production from other sources and utilization of the presently underutilised small waters is one option to supply additional sources of fish to meet the gap. Small water bodies could supply additional sources of fish to meet the gap of 330,000 tonnes.
This project will provide the scientific basis for improving fish yields through biomanipulation of small water bodies in a region which is critically short of fish protein and where previous attempts were adhoc and largely unevaluated.