Uganda is likely to earn big from Nile Perch exports as its closest competitor- Pangasius a fish species from Asia dwindles at the global market. According to a report from Globefish-a unit in the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Fisheries Department, there are serious supply constraints from Vietnam the lead supplier of the Pagasius specie after the country suffered floods in 2011.
The report says floods have forced nearly 70 per cent of all Pangasius catfish processing plants in the Mekong Delta to shut down, which is likely to prolong supply shortages up to the later part of 2012.
However, fisheries experts in Uganda have advised exporters to work towards producing quality fish for the market than look out for bigger supplies so as to cash in on the premium price.
“Exporters should focus more on product development in terms of quality and not the volumes in order to keep in business when competition sets in again,’ Mr Jackson Wandanya, acting Fisheries Commissioner told Daily Monitor yesterday.
Mr Philip Borel, the managing director of Green Fields Uganda, a fish exporter, said: “The Pangasius shortage will affect our sales margin positively but this does not mean that we should compromise quality.”
A 2011 report conducted by South African Institute of International Affairs highlighted bad governance as a key challenge to the countries fisheries suggesting for the government to come out with a Bill to a recovery of the sector especially the Nile perch species.
“Nile perch is a resilient and productive species and responds well to improved management,” the report said.
Uganda exported 15,500 tonnes of fish in 2011, earning the country about Shs212 billion, out of which the bigger percentage was from the Nile perch species. The EU accounts for 75 per cent of the fish exports from Uganda sold through Amsterdam and Brussels to other European destinations.
The EU imports about 32,300 tonnes of Nile Perch fillets, showing only small decreases in volumes compared with the same period of 2010. Tanzania is leading in supplies to European countries with 12,300 tonnes, followed by Uganda and Kenya.
Statistics showed that in the first quarter of last year, the EU remained the main market for Nile Perch with 8,200 tonnes of fillets coming from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.