Uganda FISH Project Executive Summary

The goal of the FISH project is to ‘jump-start’ commercial aquaculture development in Uganda through development of model fish farms for farmer-to-farmer technology transfer. The project will build a sustainable aquaculture industry from the ground up on proven, feed-based technologies and best management practices for viable commercial production of aquatic species, particularly Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and clarias catfish (Clarias gariepinus). This will require taking a holistic, integrated value-chain approach where all activities relate to, and attempt to include, all market sectors, including input suppliers, producers, traders, buyers and exporters.  Following the Ugandan government’s Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) and the Plan for Modernization of Agriculture’s (PMA) framework for poverty eradication, the FISH project will emphasize the role of the private sector in commercialization of agriculture (aquaculture) through on-farm demonstrations and adaptation of proven off-the-shelf hatchery, fingerling production and grow-out technologies.

As a private sector-driven initiative, the project will depend heavily on private industry providing facilities and most daily inputs on these model farms. Farmers with proven leadership skills and the ability to cost share in commercial pond and cage fish production demonstrations will be selected. Pond-based technologies will be based at selected farms while LVHD (low volume, high density) cage production will be demonstrated initially at the Fisheries Resources Research Institute (FIRRI) at Jinja or other sites. Selection and trials at these sites will be done in collaboration with the Department of Fisheries Resources, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and in observance of national environmental regulations. As these technologies are demonstrated, they will be adapted to Ugandan environmental, social and economic conditions to maximize profitability. While the focus is on the application of proven technologies under Ugandan conditions, challenges will arise that require applied research. In these cases, a participatory research approach will be used by the FISH team, its partners and the private sector to find solutions to identified problems. To encourage entrepreneurial innovation and new product development, the project will also implement a competitive Special Activities Fund to allow businesses (farms, feed manufacturers, etc.) to implement innovative strategies to improve existing technologies and provide leverage for business development. The fund will be managed by the Ugandan FISH team with technical review done by technical and industry committees.

Local feed production is critical to the overall success and sustainability of an aquaculture industry in Uganda. Hence, the application of proven feed manufacturing technologies to the local commercial feed industry will be a strong component of the project. No research on tilapia and catfish feeds is needed since this knowledge already exists. The issues in Uganda are the lack of current feed technology, necessary equipment and availability of quality feed ingredients for production of high quality, extruded fish feeds. The project will initially import feeds to demonstrate their value to farmers, provide a benchmark for appraisal of investment in the sub-sector and facilitate the development of a commercial industry that can then support a commercial feed mill. During the first two years of the project, we will facilitate the transfer of feed production technologies using locally available ingredients to local businesses, particularly current feed manufacturers, to generate local feed production.

While the focus is commercial implementation of existing technologies and the assumption is that businesses will quickly recognize their value, it also provides local capacity building as a means to strengthen extension and outreach within Uganda through the training (on-farm) of extension agents, Community Based Trainers, Private Service Providers (under NAADS), researchers and students. To cause rapid diffusion of these technologies, a farmer-to-farmer pathway facilitated by the project team will be employed. Farmers working with the technologies will best be able to explain how they work and any difficulties associated with them. Through the strengthening of farmer associations, the project will also enhance these organizations’ ability to market farmed fish products as well as to promote the industry. Farmer verification information generated from farm demonstrations will be used along with market analysis data to conduct an economic analysis of each technology package. This information will be available to farmers and businesses via farmer-to-farmer exchanges, trained extension personnel and other distribution channels.

Implementation of the project is essentially programmed around an outreach/extension strategy for achieving general and specific objectives. The strategy concept is to follow the adoption-diffusion process for promoting aquaculture. This involves education to change human behavior through a planned step-by-step process of: 1) creating awareness in individuals, 2) stimulating their interest, 3) helping them assess information, 4) assisting them in conducting demonstrations, and 5) helping them make a wise decision on whether or not to adopt. The same adoption-diffusion process is used for promoting all educational objectives to all audiences (e.g., production technologies to farmers and extension workers, diet formulations and feed technology to potential aquatic feed manufacturers). 1) Awareness, 2) interest and 3) assessment are targeted in training seminars and short courses using a variety of different mass teaching methods, but always incorporating fundamental technology and economic principles based on farm cooperator trial results. 4) Demonstrations of feeds or technologies for fish farmers in general are directly based on guidelines developed for, and field tested by, cooperator farmers. Results of these demonstrations along with other sources of information allow farmers or others to make rational decisions about 5) adoption of the technologies.

For the proposed aquaculture project in Uganda to be successful, the following assumptions must hold true: 1) The Uganda economy will continue its steady annual increase; 2) people at all levels of aquaculture development, including farmers, entrepreneurial investors, and government decision makers in Uganda, must change their ways of thinking and doing (e.g., change their attitudes, knowledge and skills) relative to aquaculture; 3) people will not change their ways of thinking and doing unless there are new facts and experiences (on-farm demonstrations) that convince them that change will lead to a more desirable situation; 4) people will adopt and invest in modern fish production technologies, if the technologies are demonstrated to be technologically and economically viable; 5) farmers will invest in the program through development of model farms; 6) private investors will have strong interest and willingness to invest in aquatic feed manufacturing, fish-seed production, farmed fish processing and marketing and other businesses associated with fish farming; and 7) the government of Uganda (GOU) and its agencies will have strong interest and willingness to support aquaculture development by shaping policies that a) provide infrastructure, adequate funding, farm credit and direct services, b) provide incentives and c) are willing to work in joint cooperation with the project to support training and on-farm demonstrations.

To accomplish all project objectives and reach the target goal requires an intensive effort directed by experienced staff on the ground in Uganda and strongly supported by aquaculture experts from the U.S. and local partners. The FISH project will be lead by Auburn University under the direction of the Chief of Party (COP) Ms. Karen Veverica, who has over 25 years of experience in aquaculture – 15 of those years spent full-time in Africa (Rwanda, Kenya and Cameroon). Auburn University will provide administrative support through Dr. William Daniels as Campus Coordinator. In Uganda, the COP will be supported by two Ugandan aquaculture experts ? Dr. Nelly Isyagi as Hatchery & Pond Culture Specialist and Mr. Asiimwe Rashid as Cage Culture Specialist. Project partners will be FIRRI andMakerere University. Mr. Owori Wadunde will serve as FIRRI counterpart to Ms. Veverica. FIRRI’s participation is critical for providing access to trained aquaculture personnel and use of equipment and facilities at both Kajjansi and Jinja. Makerere University will provide local expertise and access to facilities critical to reaching project objectives. Overall project development and its implementation will be through Auburn University and the FISH Team. Program evaluation will be done through the FISH Steering Committee, annual workshop assessments, and USAID annual reviews. The FISH Steering Committee will be responsible for identifying constraints and opportunities in aquaculture development and identifying objectives to evaluate or address. It will be chaired by Ms. Veverica as a non-voting member and include representation from project partners, associations and cooperatives representing the aquaculture industry, relevant government agencies and various NGOs involved with aquaculture, fisheries, environmental and gender issues. The FISH project team will work closely with the other USAID programs, especially APEP, PRIME, and SCOPE, to increase its effectiveness and broaden its impact. U.S. aquaculture experts will provide strong support to the Uganda FISH team in project implementation, technology exchange, and development of research and extension programs, especially in areas of fishers’ issues, production, and feed development. The Ugandan Fish Farmers Association and the Walimi Fish Cooperative Society will provide strong leadership among the Uganda private sector in project implementation and have been instrumental in project design to ensure that it is private sector-driven and successful in development of a Ugandan commercial aquaculture industry.

The International Center for Aquaculture and Aquatic Environments (ICAAE) and the Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures at Auburn University have been involved in aquaculture development in Uganda since 1999. The ICAAE has been involved with USAID since its creation in 1970 in response to requests from the USAID to provide technical and socio-economic assistance to developing countries in aquaculture, inland fisheries and living aquatic resources management. The AU FISH Team is well positioned to lead this project with its extensive experience in aquaculture development, including a vast amount in central and east Africa and is strongly supported by its Ugandan partners.

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