Fish traders stare at losses as prices drop

Tilapia fish in a basket ready for transportation at Bugoma docking pier in Kalangala District on Sunday. PHOTO/DAVID SEKAYINGA   

What you need to know:

Customers are excited about the drop in price for tilapia fish while traders are looking for external markets.

Fishermen dealing in tilapia on Lake Victoria are concerned about the declining prices in the local markets.

A kilogramme of tilapia, which used to cost between Shs8,000 and Shs9,000 two months ago, is currently being sold between Shs4,000 and Shs6,000.

The fishermen attribute the price drop to increased supply of tilapia since the catch has almost doubled within the same period.

“Between February and September, we catch a lot of fish and sell it to businessmen at Kasenyi (in Katabi Town Council) and Nakiwogo landing sites in Entebbe. The businessmen buy cheaply saying they suffer losses due to the low demand of tilapia.

Mr Arone Kavuma, a fisherman on Misonzi Landing Site in Kalangala District, said at the weekend.

 Mr Kavuma believes that if tilapia had demand on international markets like Nile perch, dealers would also make profits.

 The current high tilapia fish catch, according to fishermen is as a result of the Filamentous and planktonic algae, (a green layer on the lake) which they say reduces light in the lake thus causing fish to be trapped easily in their nets.

 At Kasenyi Landing Site, for example, fish mongers currently receive 7 tonnes of fish daily, compared to the 4 tonnes in the last two months.

 “We are going to continue recording losses if we don’t swiftly get market outside Uganda for tilapia because it is evident that the local market cannot consume all the fish harvested,” Mr Sowedi Kayongo, the chairperson for Kasenyi Landing Site, said.

He said a kilogramme of tilapia costs Shs8,000 from Shs15,000 while a kilogramme of  Nile Perch currently costs Shs20,000 up from Shs15,000  at Kasenyi landing site.

However, traders say the prices are not static.

 Mr Johnson Tabule, a fisherman in Buikwe District, said tilapia fish is not in high demand internationally because it does not make a good fish fillet like the Nile Perch.

He said the price of tilapia fish in the area has slightly dropped from Shs8,000 to Shs5,000 per kilogramme.

Mr Philemon Kudere , the chairperson of Eastern of Association of Fishers and Lake Users of Uganda (AFALU), said there are plenty of tilapia fish species on the market.

 “I am sure if our fishermen stick to the recommended size of tilapia and smoke it well, there is some ready market in neighbouring countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Kenya,” he said.

Mr Kudere said a tonne of tilapia currently costs between Shs8 million to Shs10 million while that of Nile perch goes for Shs14 million.

Mr Siraj Mawanda, the spokesperson of AFALU, said:  “The Ugandan market is potentially large, but since the economy is not doing well, people’s incomes are low, which translates into low purchasing power,” he said.

Ms Stella Akello, a fish monger in Njeru Municipality, said she is selling more smoked fish than fresh fish due to low demand. If the prices of fresh fish do not increase to at least Shs8,000 in the coming days, Ms Akello says she will smoke all the fresh fish she has bought and then sell the smoked fish at a later date.


Uganda exports fish worth more than Shs619 billion annually, mainly to Europe and China.
Uganda produces up to 447,020 metric tonnes of fish from capture fisheries and aquaculture. Nile perch contributes about 86,463 metric tonnes of total production, tilapia 49,768 metric tonnes , small pelagic 260,460 metric tonnes while other fish species contribute 50,800 metric tonnes.
Currently, The maw from a 70kg Nile perch can fetch about Shs1.5m compared to the fish itself which goes for about Shs700,000.

Compiled by Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, David Sekayinga & Denis Edema