For years, I’ve passed through Kajjansi but had not noticed the signpost of the Aquaculture Research and Development Centre, Kajjansi. The things our eyes miss! This facility was my next stop in the coverage of fishing in Uganda. It is a government facility, a branch of the Fisheries resource research Institute, in Jinja. But unlike the facility in Jinja, this one focusses only on aquaculture.
My journey to the facility started from Usafi Taxi Park, which is a stone’s throw from the clock tower. I must confess that the realisation that I would board from Usafi and not the old Taxi Park almost dampened my spirits. But thankfully, the inconvenience did not make me change my plans to go to the facility. I was the last passenger to board the taxi. Within a couple of minutes after my arrival at the park, we were out of the taxi park and onto the road.
If you do not want to get lost, tell the conductor you are going to “fisheries institute”, near Uganda clays. Uganda clays is the famous neighbour. Its fame has dwarfed that of the aquaculture centre. But why wouldn’t it? People buy clay products every day and pay attention to the source of these products. How many people think about the source of fish on their plates?
I alighted from the taxi a few meters from the entrance of Uganda clays and crossed the road. I took the murrum path next to a blue sign post of the facility. But I still asked the people who were washing cars whether I was headed in the right direction. They pointed at a storied building and told me that it was the facility I was going to. I got onto a boda-boda to cover the next one kilometre or so, to the facility.
At the facility, I met Dr. Owori Wadunde, who is the senior research officer at the facility. He is a library of information concerning fish farming. He took me through the types of fish that are mostly reared and the trials of fish farming.
‘Fish farming is similar to farming of any crop,’ he said. ‘You just have to know the right fish and how to farm it.’ He told me that the facility’s research is demand based. If people request for a particular type of fish, the facility will research about it. Why? I asked. At which he responded that the efforts of the facility are to encourage fish farming since it was not traditionally done in Uganda, unlike in Asian countries. So they have to encourage people to do it, by providing the types of fish that people want to farm. Once people try farming fish and the project is unsuccessful, they tend to abandon it.
These efforts are geared to curbing the dwindling amounts of fish in natural water bodies. Dr. Owori informed me that not every fish type is successfully farmed. They are fish that if taken out of the natural water sources, they stop reproducing. It is not until they are injected with hormones that are harvested from their brains that they start reproducing. The African catfish is one such fish.
Tilapia is the most widely farmed type of fish since it reproduces in shallow waters. But farmers out there are asking for other types of fish like the Nile perch, catfish, Ningu Labeo, Kisinja, name it. The Nile perch, for example, is bigger and fetches more money when mature.
The facility also has a department for Information Technology. It is in this department that I found Martin Turyashemerra, with whom I created a Wikipedia page for the facility. Given his placement and close proximity to resourceful people like Dr. Owori, the future coverage of aquaculture in Uganda and fishing, is in safe hands.
It is Martin who gave me a tour of the facility, the fish ponds and the breeding grounds. There is also a hatchery for fish eggs at the facility. This has made it possible for farmers to access fish eggs that can populate their ponds.
If you are out there and thought that all fish in Uganda comes from lakes and rivers, the next time you order for fillet, consider this possibility. May be that fish was hatched from this facility. So it is not a wastage of money and resources. It is an avenue of restocking natural water sources with fish types that were close to extinction like the Ningu Labeo and Kisinja.
By Ivan Mulumba
Visit this place one day. Apart from the beautiful view, you will leave with a wealth of knowledge that can transform you and the lives of peo