Uganda produces up to 15 000 tonnes of fish from aquaculture, including production from small-scale fish farmers, emerging commercial fish farmers and stocked community water reservoirs and minor lakes.
There are an estimated 20 000 ponds throughout the country with an average surface area of 500 m² per pond. Production ranges between 1 500 kg per hectare per year for subsistence farmers to 15 000 kg per hectare per year for emerging commercial fish farmers.
There are currently an estimated 12 000 farmers involved in aquaculture, with about 150 service providers or extension workers employed by local governments.
With improved market prices for fish, government intervention for increased production and stagnating supply from capture fisheries, aquaculture has begun to attract entrepreneurial farmers seeking to exploit the business opportunity provided by the prevailing demand for fish.
The new entrants, mostly from the middle and working class as well as a few businessmen, target specific and established markets. They have adopted improved production systems including inputs from technical experts for better planning and management.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has identified 31 districts as suitable for fisheries and aquaculture development based on both natural and socio-economic factors. These districts are: Mayuge, Jinja, Bugiri, Busia, Mukono, Mpigi, Wakiso, Masaka, Rakai, Mbarara, Bushenyi, Ntungamo, Kasese, Hoima, Masindi, Nebbi, Gulu, Adjumani, Arua, Kamuli, Soroti, Lira, Iganga, Tororo, Pallisa, Mbale, Apac, Kabiramaido, Kabarole, Kamwenge and Kyenjojo. They are located around the country’s major water systems including Lake Victoria Crescent, Lake Kyoga basin, River Nile catchment, Edward-George complex and the Koki lakes.
The Minister of State for Fisheries
The Minister of State for Fisheries is directly responsible for the aquaculture sub-sector within the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.
The Fish Act (1964),
The Fish Act (1964), which is currently under review, is the principal Act from which regulations for aquaculture have been developed. Existing aquaculture regulations include Fish (Aquaculture) Rules 2003, which regulate aquaculture practices, especially at the commercial level.
The National Agriculture Research System Act (2005)
The National Agriculture Research System Act (2005) regulates fisheries and aquaculture research among other agriculture research areas. This Act breaks the monopoly of public agriculture research by public institutions and opens it up to other interested competent agencies and individuals through competitive research grants. In essence, it allows, in the case of aquaculture, other key players from academic institutions, private researchers or research agencies and other public agencies without a formal mandate to engage in aquaculture research using public funding.
The Land Act (1995)
The Land Act (1995) spells out the tenure system for land ownership and legal rights of what can be done in and on one’s land. The Act also defines ownership of wetlands, swamps and other shallow waters within one’s confine or land.
The National Environment Management Authority
The National Environment Management Authority Statute deals with protection of the environment and regulates all activities that may impinge on the quality of the environment.
The Water Law
The Water Law spells out the use, access, responsibility of user, conflict resolution in water resource use and access for all users including aquaculture practitioners.
Fish farming in Uganda has been summarised to include the following