Inspiration from Malawi Aquaculture Research: My Passion for Fish Brought to Reality
By Rebecca Mwima
I am Rebecca Mwima a graduate from Makerere University. I have 4 years work experiences in administration which I gained from Regional University Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) where formerly I worked as an Administrative Assistant.
Through one of RUFORUM engagements with stakeholders, I got an opportunity to participate in a tour to the aquaculture research centre of Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) located at Bunda, Malawi. This particular Aquaculture Research is one of main research Centres at LUANAR. During the tour we were taken around to see various ways in which fish are kept from hatching till maturity. They have various containers in which these fish are kept right from the egg stage to maturity ready for selling. They have an artificial lake in which some of the fish are put to grow to the size that is acceptable on the wider market.
From the tour, coupled with my love for eating fish, an idea flashed in my mind that it is possible to do something similar back home even with my limited capacity in terms of income and land availability. With this inspiration of loving fish and the knowledge from Bunda, I put the preliminary plan down to start my own fish farm to enable me have enough fish at my disposal for both eating and selling given the fact that the cost of fish in Uganda has gone so high. Due to the limited income, I decided to partner with a friend to make this dream a reality. Fortunately, she loved the idea and contacted her father who had a swamp land not ploughed in Mukono District, Uganda that we put to use as a starting ground as we grow and purchase our own piece of land for better commercial production.
A lot of consultations were made which helped to draft a plan and budget and finally we began the construction. As a starting point we constructed a small pond of 75m3.One of the consultants, Allan Agabaa, advised us on the places to get good quality breed of young fish, the quantity to buy based on the pond size and where we could also get the right fish feeds, and a care taker to feed and monitor the fish at all time. We stocked 320 Tilapia fish as a trial. Of course we registered some deaths along the various stages due to the little experience that we had. On maturity after 7 months of rearing, we harvested the fish, much of which was consumed domestically (ourselves, family, neighbors and friends) and the rest we sold off. Consequently, we realized we could expand our farm to two ponds according to the affordable budget at that time. So we constructed yet another pond of 867m2 including the drainage system for the ponds to function well.
Currently we have a total of 3700 fish – 3000 in the bigger pond and 700 in the smaller one. This has so far cost us an average of 20 Million Uganda Shillings. This cost is inclusive of pond digging, draining, and purchase of fish, feeding, transport, fencing off the ponds, construction of a feed storage shelter and paying the care taker. Fish are fed 3 times a day with pelleted feeds, supplemented with yam leaves, and some manure. The fish is weighed every after 3 months to monitor their growth. The ponds are drained every after 2 weeks to clean and refreshment of water.
We have joined an association of the Uganda Commercial Fish Farmers Association for networking in terms of new knowledge on fish, access to market, feeds and any other assistance they can offer. We are eagerly waiting to have our very first commercial harvest by September 2018. For any orders in advance, please contact Ms. Mwima Rebecca at +256 773 462 325 and Mwimah22@yahoo.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
For future plans, we want to go for large scale fish farming and also encourage other young people to join this industry because we have seen the potential it holds especially for income generation and domestic consumption and the joy behind fish farming.
 Ms Rebecca Mwima is a graduate of social work and social administration from Makerere University. She also holds a Diploma in human resources, a Certificate in Project Monitoring and Evaluation, and a Certificate in Management and theories Philosophies. She has 4 years of work experience in administration which she gained from Regional University Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) where formerly she worked as an Administrative Assistant.