Harvest more from fish

Saturday February 9 2019

Brian Natwijuka in his pasture garden.

Brian Natwijuka in his pasture garden. Natwijuka is one of the livestock agronomists who teach farmers how to plant fodder. Photo by Christine Katende 

By Desire Mbabaali

More farmers today are engaging in fish farming activities.
And like the market of many other agricultural products, the market for fish often struggles making people think of other alternative ways such as value addition.
This not only increases the shelf life of the fish – which is highly perishable, but also commands more returns.

Mukasa’s farm
Arnold Mukasa has two fish ponds where he grows cat fish in Nakilebe Village along Masaka highway. Previously, he sold whole catfish weighing more than two kilogrammes at Shs14,000 to customers who walked in to get fresh fish.
At times when he sold to individuals and organisations especially schools, he would sell the fish in a lumpsum according to the number of fish they were taking; which he says was not good for business.

In order to fetch more from his fish farming business, he decided to add value to the fish.
“I started by making a fish stall near the ponds and selling the fish in measurements of kilogrammes. I then realised I was earning more doing this. I could for example earn more from just one fish depending on the kilogrammes it had, selling each kilogramme at Shs9,000, meaning I would make about Shs18,000 assuming the fish had about two kilogrammes,” he shares.

This also availed him more customers. However, there arose another problem.
“At the end of business, we had some unsold fish. But also, customers had been asking us for fried fish, so we started to dip fry it and sell in different measurements from a quarter, half a kilogramme and kilogramme; one at Shs13000,” Mukasa shares.

Mukasa is busy frying fish fillet when Seeds of Gold visits his farm in Nakilebe Village.
On a table next to him are various food items that affirm his culinary skills.
They include grilled tilapia, samosas, kebabs and fried fillet. There is also a bowl of wheat flour, margarine and pieces of tilapia and catfish.
Mukasa makes the samosas, grilled filet and fried fillet from tilapia and catfish that he rears in three ponds.
“I do not sell all my fish, I use some to make various products,” he tells Seeds of Gold at his Rubaga farm.

Each of Mukasa’s ponds have about 500 tilapia and 300 catfish.
Next to the fish ponds are nursery tanks that host more than 90,000 fingerlings which he breeds and sells to other farmers.
Mukasa has plans of expanding his market. He says he is ready to sell his fingerlings to Operation Wealth Creation (OWC).

Value triples
A piece of mature tilapia weighing about 500 grammes goes for Shs15,000 in the retail market.
“The value of the same fish triples when used to make both fried and grilled fillet,” says Katongole who started fish farming in 2010. “I earn double when I grill the tilapia. I sell each at Shs24,000.”
“I learnt this innovation when I was working with Go Fish in Bugoolobi. Go Fish taught me how to make these products,” says Katongole.
The farmer was motivated to venture into value addition to promote fish eating and earn more cash.
“Many people, particularly, those who do not come from lakeside do not eat fish but when you add value, this expands consumption,” he says.

After harvesting his fish, Hamis Katongole who owns three fish ponds in Rubaga Division, Kampala takes them to a processing unit a few metres from the ponds. There he extracts the fillet.
To make the tasty fillet, Katongole starts by deep frying the filleted fish for about 10 minutes.
He makes pastry using wheat flour, salt, milk and water, and cuts it into small triangular pieces.

“I, then, heat the pieces in a cooking pan under low heat and allow them to cool. During this stage, I add a little maize flour mixed with water to a texture of porridge.”
He then folds in the pastry the fried fish and deep fries it for a few minutes until it is ready.