At least 1,400 women in Bugiri District are now able to fend for themselves through a cage fish farming project funded by United Nations (UN) women agency.
The Shs2.6b project, which started in 2019, is based on research by the UN Women agency on gender gaps in agriculture production, which found Bugiri District wanting.
It is set to end on December 31 and is co-funded by Standard Bank South Africa, and the Swedish government, in partnership with Increasing Women Economic Empowerment (IWEE).
Mr Maxime Houinato, the UN Women country representative, said their activities are meant to promote the status of women so that they leave a situation of deprivation and compete with men.
“In Uganda, the best way was in economic empowerment, political empowerment and addressing violence against women,” he said.
According to Mr Houinato, the 1,400 women are in ‘traditional initiation’ into the fish business and one day they will see that the money is little and strive to get more.
He further described the government as a partner which has allowed them to support such a project mostly without paying tax and has given them a license.
Since commencement of the project, the women have harvest an average of 11 tonnes of fish per month and from November 2020 to-date, about 98 tonnes of fish have been harvested, with the fourth harvested coming at the weekend.
Last year, the project set up 14 fish cages and harvested fish which allegedly took a year to consume.
This year, however, the project has set up 28 fish cages and the projection for subsequent years is to sell 36,000 tonnes of fish per year worth Shs2.5b in revenue.
“The project has reduced domestic violence because the women are putting food on the table and restoring gender equality. They are also being paid for their labour though the business is theirs,” Ms Immaculate Were, the project focal person, said.
A visit to Wakawaka Landing Site in Bugiri District, where the project is on-going at the weekend revealed that women were smoking and packing fish in the newly-acquired refrigerator truck for dispatch.
“With the truck, we shall take the fish to the prime market and reduce on the tonnage sold at farm gate, thus increasing on the profits,” Ms Were said.
Ms Gertrude Nabwire, a resident of Wakawaka Village, who has been a member of the project since its inception, said: “I have been renting but since I joined the project, I managed to buy a plot with a small house in it and managed to educate my child up to Senior Four.”
Ms Margaret Apio, also a member of the project and resident of Wakawaka Village, said before she joined the group, she was selling charcoal and tomatoes.
“When I joined, we were trained on how to save and during every harvest we are given money and food. I am in the packaging section,” she said.
Ms Farida Mutesi, also a beneficiary, said she ditched her unprofitable business and fully joined the UN Women-funded project.
“The project has helped me educate my child up to Primary Seven,” she said.