Officials ban drying of mukene on bare ground

Friday February 26 2021
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Women dealing in mukene attend to customers at Lambu Landing Site in Masaka District on January 16. PHOTO/WILSON KUTAMBA.

By Wilson Kutamba

Authorities in Masaka District have banned drying of fresh silverfish on bare ground, saying the practice compromises quality.

Silverfish, commonly known as mukene,  when dried on bare ground, gets mixed with sand and animal droppings, according to authorities.

While speaking in an interview with Daily Monitor on Monday, Mr Moses Ssemambo, the Masaka District fisheries officer, said they have over the years been warning fishermen against this practice in vain and they have now stepped up efforts to enforce the standards.

“Those who do not want to use the available drying racks should try another business because we are not going to tolerate their destructive actions anymore,” Mr Ssemambo said.

Mr Ssemambo added that the government in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has built more than 50 demonstration drying stands at some landing sites to encourage fishermen to build theirs, but they have not taken heed.

“If we addressed this issue (of quality), we would be exporting huge tonnes of mukene to neigbouring countries,” he said.

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In 2010, a total of 54 standard drying racks were set up at various landing sites Lambu, Kachanga, Namirembe, Ddimo, and Kaziru in Masaka District, but the fishermen have refused to utilise the facilities.

Available records at the Masaka District fisheries department show that Lambu Landing Site received 19 silver fish drying stands, Ddimo (10), Namirembe (15), and Malembo (10).

However, Mr Moses Barekye, a fisherman, said many of his colleagues lack money to buy tarpaulins or construct their own drying racks.

“One tarpaulin costs between Shs130,000 and Shs150, 000 and some of us can hardly raise that money,” Mr Barekye said.

He asked government to give them incentives like they do for farmers so that they can boost their business and meet the required standards.

Mr Samuel Ssebwato, another fisherman, said: “Some fishermen claim that when they dry mukene on bare ground it gains more weight and they get more money,” he said.

Mr Rashid Babu, the manager of Mpongo Limited, the company which manages Lambu Landing Site in Masaka District, promised to work closely with the district authorities to enforce the fish safety standards.

Mukene
According to district officials, on average, Masaka produces about 40 tonnes of mukene in a month. A sack of mukene costs between Shs500,000 and Shs600,000.

Currently, a kilo of mukene costs between Shs2,000 and Shs3,200 on the local market.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com 

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