Market Watch: How weather determines fish prices
Posted Wednesday, February 27 2013 at 00:00
Fish is popular part of Ugandans’ diet and different people prefer to eat in different forms depending on their tastes. While they always find it on the market, rains or sunshine determine how much will be available and at what price.
Fish are always on the market and it is once in a while that prices will change. Unlike meat where consumers are alert about price changes, like during the festive seasons, for fish, the prices vary depending on weather change and the level of demand.
Although there are always price fluctuations, fish is readily available on the market, no matter the cost.
“People buy more tilapia and Nile Perch, the two common types than any other kind. The other types like mud and cat fish are bought once in a while, and have a certain class of people that demand it,” says Wilson Muyonjjo, a trader at Mulungu landing site in Munyonyo.
He adds that prices rise when there are strong winds and heavy rains because this makes it hard for fishermen to catch fish because of the big waves on the lake that come with the wind.
“People think that the more it rains, the more the fish come closer. Instead, it is hard for the fishermen to cast their nets leading to fewer fish caught and increased prices.”
The current weather is unfavourable, according to Muyonjjo. He purchases a bundle of nine big tilapia for between Shs120,000 and Shs130,000 and sells each at Shs20,000.
A bundle of the small ones costs between Shs80,000 and Shs90,000 and sells each at Shs5,000. Nile Perch costs from Shs10,000 to Shs400,000 depending on the size and weight. A kilo is currently at Shs14,000 but can go as low as Shs10,000.
During the favourable seasons, a bundle of big nine tilapias cost between Shs80,000 and 100,000 where one is sold at Shs15,000. A bundle of 10 small ones will cost between Shs50,000 and Shs60,000, and each one costs between Shs2,000 and Shs3,000.
But Ms Agnes Kavuuma, a trader at Kansanga market, says the selling price is normally determined by how much one invests. “Before setting prices, I calculate the profit after deducting all incurred costs. When the incurred costs are high, the selling price will be hiked and vice versa,” she said.
During the low seasons, a bundle of four big tilapias cost between Shs75,000 and Shs85,000. One goes for Shs20,000, a medium-sized fish cost between Shs10,000 and Shs15,000 then a small one at Shs5,000.
“It’s during this time that fishermen complain of the storms blowing off their nets hence failing to get enough fish yet the demand is always high, ” she says. “Traders compete with hotel, beaches and restaurants, because of this, price remains high since we purchase on an auction basis where the highest bidder wins.”
At Kansanga Market, a kilo of raw Nile Perch costs Shs15,000 and a fried piece is sold between Shs6,000 and Shs6,500, depending on the size. Sometimes, the price of a kilo goes as low as Shs12,000, according to the traders at the market.
Smoked fish cost between Shs5,000 to Shs30,000 depending on the type and the size.
Kavuuma says, catfish, commonly known as Semutundu, is scarce. Sometimes, her customers place advance orders for it.
“It is hard for people who don’t know this type of fish to ask for it because of its scary appearance. However, those who know about it; do not usually mind about the prices,” she says.