By Hasifa Kabejja
Fish has been identified as one of the 10 priority agricultural commodities to foster a sustainable agro-industrialization agenda in Uganda because of its contribution to national GDP (3%), agricultural GDP (12%), employment (5.3 million people), nutrition (about 50% of animal protein), and foreign exchange revenues (USD $147.75m, September 2020). Despite the enormous potential for fish production, with approximately 44,000 km2 (20%) of Uganda’s total surface area covered by freshwaters (lakes, rivers and swamps), the fisheries resources are currently under-exploited due to over-reliance on capture fisheries and limited investments in aquaculture. As of 2018, production from capture fisheries and aquaculture stood at 447,059 tonnes and 120,000 tonnes, respectively. This leaves a deficit of 302,941tonnes (capture fisheries) and 888,000 tonnes (aquaculture) of fish needed to achieve the Government’s target of increasing capture fisheries and aquaculture to 1.7 million tonnes annually by 2030. According to researchers from the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University, the proposed Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill, 2021 should address the constraint by diversifying fish production systems and fish products. The Bill should also support the building and strengthening of human capacity in a bid to create a critical mass of fisheries and aquaculture professionals with the necessary knowledge, skills and competencies to transform the sector from subsistence to commercial enterprise.
In a bid to consolidate and reform the law relating to the management of Fisheries, fisheries products and aquaculture as a measure to transform the sector in the country, the Sectoral Committee of Parliament on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries is engaging several stakeholders for amendments to the proposed Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill, 2021.
On 2nd November 2021, members of staff from the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences at Makerere University, together with their counterparts from Busitema University and the Fisheries Training Institute, Entebbe presented their proposed amendments to members of the Committee led by Abim District Woman MP, Hon. Janet Akech, and Ngora Woman MP, Hon. Stella Apolot Isodo.
Mak-CoNAS Researchers Launch Project to Explore Forage Resources for Stingless Bees in Uganda
The products from stingless bees may be little but are so valuable. Stingless bees have many benefits to various sectors of the economy, more especially the Health and Agricultural sectors. The project titled – “Exploring Forage Resources for Stingless Bees in Uganda: The Case of Meliponula bocandei”seeks to preserve them and to maximize their benefits to the economy.
It is led by Dr. Perpetra Akite, Lecturer in the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences and supported by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF).
Launch of the project
Researchers from the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University on 18th November 2021 launched a project to explore forage resources for Stingless bees in Uganda, with special focus on the Meliponula bocandei species. The launch held at the National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI) in Nakyesasa, Wakiso District was presided over by the Commissioner, Entomology at the Ministry of Agricultural, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Mr Lawrence Tusimomuhangi. It was grace by among others, the current Head, Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences, Dr. Eric Sande, and former heads, Prof. William Banage, Prof. Gilbert Isabirye Basuta and Prof. Anne Mary Akol.
Objectives of the project
Supported by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), the project seeks to profile forage resources for Meliponula bocandei in the Western highlands and Lake Victoria Crescent AEZs of Uganda. It also aims to characterize pollen in honey of Meliponula bocandei collected from the Western highlands and Lake Victoria Crescent AEZs of Uganda. Under the project, the researchers plan to develop a Meliponula bocandei beekeeping calendar for Uganda. Once developed, the beekeeping calendar will guide farmers on the approximate date and duration of the blossoming periods of the important honey and pollen plants in their area, and the kind of flowers available for the bees in the course of the year.
The study follows two previous research projects that sought to domesticate stingless bees in Uganda and to explore the nutritional and medicinal values of their products.
According to the research team, stingless bees present enormous benefits to the Health and Agricultural Sectors. Their products have high nutritional and medicinal values. The pollination services associated with the stingless beekeeping industry can boost crop production especially in the urban settings. The stingless beekeeping industry also has great potential to generate employment. However, the continued destruction of the environment through deforestation and soil pollution presents a major challenge to the survival of the bees since they feed on restricted plant species. It is on this basis that the researchers have set out to study and preserve forage resources for stingless bees.
Presenting an outline of their study, the Principal Investigator, Dr Perpetra Akite said the project will largely contribute to the development of the stingless beekeeping industry in Uganda. “The project will impact positively at several frontiers, especially on the role played by stingless bees in crop pollination for food security. Scientists and other key actors will benefit from the knowledge generated from this action research on the identification of forage for stingless bees in Africa, and the economy will largely improve due to increased participation in stingless bee enterprises,” she noted. Other expected outcomes include; a baseline information and platform for developing stingless bee forage in Uganda, a stingless beekeeping calendar to promote meliponiculture and improvement in livelihoods.
Addressing participants, the Commissioner, Entomology at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Mr. Lawrence Tusimomuhangi applauded the researchers for the initiative. “The Government is deeply interested in insect related interventions. However, many questions in the area of entomology remain unanswered. There is need for substantive research into productive insects and Makerere should lead on this.We need to invent technologies for continuous production of insects like grasshoppers that have high commercial benefits. The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries is relying on Makerere and other research institutions to guide on the development of appropriate technologies for insect management interventions, and the promotion of agro industrialization in line with the National Development Plan III,” he explained. NDP III seeks to promote sustainable industrialization for inclusive growth, employment and wealth creation.
Proposals by participants
During the engagements, participants observed that there was need to study the behaviour of stingless bees at different locations (adaption to the environment) and variations in seasons before designing the beekeeping calendar. They also noted that it is important to collect data during both the dry and wet seasons for better results. Additionally, participants called for studies on the toxicological effects of agrochemicals on stingless bees.
In his remarks, the Head, Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences at Makerere University, Dr Eric Sande commended the research team for writing a successful project. He appreciated the Government of Uganda for the enormous support towards research activities at Makerere. “Exploring Forage Resources for Stingless Bees in Uganda: A Case of Meliponula bocandei” is one of over 700 projects that have so far been supported by the Government of Uganda through Mak-RIF.
Additionally, Dr Sande acknowledged the presence of the former heads at the event and their continued support towards the development of the Department.
Briefing participants on the NaLIRRI, the representative of the Director, Dr Patrice Kasangaki appreciated the long standing collaboration between the Institute and Makerere University Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences. The Department has collaborated with the NaLIRRI on several research projects and continues to offer practical training as well as supervision of students. NaLIRRI supported the department in research on domesticating stingless bees and exploring the nutritional and medicinal values of their products. The Institute has pledged support for the current project aimed at exploring forage resources for stingless bees in Uganda.
As part of the project launch activities, participants toured the Meliponary at NaLIRRI to learn more about the preservation of stingless bees.
Commemorating World Fisheries Day – Stakeholders call for more Investment in Fish Farming
Theme of the 2021 World Fisheries Day celebrations:“Recognizing and Supporting the Contribution and Sustainable Development of Small Scale Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture”
The World Fisheries Day celebrated on 21st November annually presents an opportunity for stakeholders in the fishing industry to reflect on the state of Fisheries resources.
On 22nd November 2021, Uganda joined the rest of the world to commemorate the day. The celebrations to mark the day were held at St. Isidoro (Negri) Bar-Dege, Layibi Division in Gulu City. The event was presided over by the Minister of State for Fisheries, Hon. Hellen Adoa and attended by major actors in the fisheries industry in Uganda as well as political and religious leaders from Gulu District.
Highlighting the achievements and challenges faced by the fisheries sector globally, participants expressed concern over the continued depletion of fish from water bodies as a result illegal and unregulated fishing methods.
Addressing participants, the Minister of State for Fisheries, Hon. Hellen Adoa called for more investment in fish farming to salvage the industry. “The fishing sector is faced with numerous challenges. The persistent use of illegal fishing gears and methods has resulted in catching and processing of immature fish. This has led to the decline of fish stocks reducing fish catches and consequently undermining the contribution of the sector to the economy,” she explained, calling on the general public to embrace aquaculture.
“Uganda is well endowed with water resources, good climate and raw materials for the production of fish feeds. With all these, we are well positioned to undertake aquaculture. Aquaculture can be practiced on commercial scale, in ponds, tanks and cages and has great potential to fill the gap created by the declining fish catches from natural water bodies. It also has potential to provide employment,” she noted.
The Minister acknowledged the support rendered various actors towards the development of the fishing industry, one of the country’s major foreign exchange earners.
Emphasizing the contribution of the Fisheries Sector to the economy, the Commissioner Fisheries at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Ms Joyce Ikwaput Nyeko called for concerted efforts to address the challenges affecting the industry.
“Uganda is blessed with a lot of water resources with 20% of our surface area covered by lakes, rivers, swamps, and has potential to provide 1.7 million tonnes from both aquaculture and capture fisheries. This is however undermined by numerous challenges including unregulated fishing, lost fish habitats and global warming. This calls for drastic interventions to sustain the industry,” she said.
Currently, Uganda exports fish worth USD 177 million and is second to coffee in foreign exchange earnings from non-traditional exports. The fishing industry in Uganda provides employment to 1.2 million people and supports 5.3 million people. Besides the commercial benefits, fish and fisheries products play an important role in food and nutritional security around the world.
Representing Hauge Aqua, Dr. Ronald Semyalo, a Lecturer at the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, Makerere University called for more training and skilling of youth in Fisheries and Aquaculture as a measure to minimize unemployment. The Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences, Makerere University supports training in fisheries and aquaculture at various institutions in the country.
As part of the activities to mark the day, key stakeholders in the fishing industry including the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries; the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO); NutriFish Uganda; and the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI) showcased some of their products.
Exhibition by NutriFish Uganda
Supported by the International Research Development Centre (IDRC) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) through their joint programme, Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund (CultiAF), NutriFish aims to address the nutritional needs of vulnerable groups that cannot afford expensive commercial fish but are in critical need of high quality nutritious diets.
As key stakeholders in Uganda’s fishing industry, the project team led by Dr Jackson Efitre actively participated in the exhibition to mark World Fisheries Day in Gulu City. At their stall, the researchers showcased some of their products from small pelagic fish, actively engaging and explaining to participants the nutritional benefits and the product flow process of the fish. Some of the products showcased included, composite flour enriched with mukene (silver fish), Baghia from Nile Perch, fish sauce with mukene, instant porridge enriched with mukene, fish seasoning with mukene, mukene snack and the solar tent drier.
Graduation Ceremony – Award of a Certificate in Community Aquaculture, Level 1
During the ceremony, 100 students from two community aquaculture schools in Arivu, Arua District and at St. Isidoro Farm in Gulu District graduated with a Certificate in Community Aquaculture, Level 1. The graduation ceremony was presided over by Gulu Archdiocese Archbishop, His Grace John Baptist Odama.
The two schools were established with support from Caritas International as part of the contribution of the Catholic Church towards the development of aquaculture in Uganda, and eradication of poverty and hunger in line with sustainable development goals 1 and 2. The project aims to uplift the lives of the vulnerable and unemployed youth and women through creating skills in fish farming, entrepreneurship, and cooperatives for marketing products in the fish value chain. To date, 1,051 students have completed training at these schools.
In his remarks, the National Director, Caritas Uganda, Msgr. Dr. Francis Ndamira appreciated the support rendered by Makerere University Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences towards the training of students.
Call for Applications: Cag University, Turkey fully-funded Masters Scholarships
Makerere University, in partnership with Cag University, Turkey invites applications from suitable candidates from Uganda for a fully-funded Masters Scholarship for the 2021/2022 Academic year.
The programme is funded by Erasmus+ Programme under ICM /Erasmus+ KA 107 project. The programme supports students and staff in the frame of International Credit Mobility / KA107 Cooperation on academic and cultural research. The Erasmus+ Programme aims at promoting equity and inclusion by facilitating access to participants with disadvantaged backgrounds and fewer opportunities compared to their peers. It is expected that upon graduation scholarship beneficiaries can proactively contribute towards socio—economic transformation of their communities.
Target Scholarship beneficiaries and criteria for the scholarship
- The applicant must hold a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, International Relations and Globalization, Finance and Banking, International Trade and Marketing, Public Law, or Private Law from an accredited and reorganized institution, with a minimum of an Upper Second Class or its equivalent
- The Applicant must be a citizen and resident of Uganda at the time of the application and ready to stay and work in Uganda upon completion of the study
- The applicant should have at least a one-year work experience in the field of study
- Should be below 35 years of age at the time of applying
- Must be from a genuinely poor, vulnerable or disadvantage socio-economic background
- Must be ready to take on fulltime studentship at Cag University, Mersin Turkey
- Should demonstrate specific interest in pursuing a career in the field of choice
- Female applicants, people with disabilities, individuals from ethnic minority and marginalised communities are strongly encouraged to apply
Value of Scholarship
- For successful applicants, funding will cover the following areas:
- Participation costs (e.g., tuition/registration fees) of students
- Research costs (e.g., field work, laboratory consumables)
- Subsistence allowance: Masters.: 800 Euro per month
- Economy class roundtrip flight ticket and visa costs
- Insurance (Health, accident, and travel)
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