Gulu fish hatchery centre lying idle. A 1.5 Billion Shillings hatchery centre in Northern Uganda has remained non-functional more than twelve years after it was established.
The centre located in Laliya parish in Bardege-Laroo division in Gulu City was established in 2008 by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries (MAAIF- https://www.agriculture.go.ug/directorate-of-fisheries-resources/) to promote fisheries and research in aquaculture as well as food processing in Northern Uganda.
The centre which was built with funding from African Development Bank has 24 fish ponds, a water heating facility, a regulatory tank and hatchery, giant fingerlings breeding tanks and a fish processing machine.
The others include a standby generator, transport facilities and office equipment among others. It is among the four major artificial hatchery centres established by the government across the country to boost fish farming among the local fish farmers.
Since then the centre has been idle with no major activities. Some of the equipment and building are already dilapidated and vandalized by members of the community.
Beatrice Layet Ocen, who has four fish ponds in Laliya, Gulu City says that she is exorbitantly buying her fish feeds and fingerlings from Soroti City due to the unavailability in Gulu City.
Layet spends more than three million shillings quarterly for purchasing fingerlings and fish feeds adding that she also lacks adequate knowledge to run her fish ponds since it should have been provided cheaply by the now idle fish project.
Daniel Watmon, the Chairperson of Amalac Fish Farming Project in Omoro district says that he has attained training on fish pond making and stocking but the biggest challenge is accessing fish feeds and fingerlings which he says are not available in Northern Uganda.
He says that the centre would have provided them with basic fish farming knowledge and fish feeds cheaply and employment opportunities among others.
Eighteen-year-old Rebecca Lamwaka Joska from Amuru district intends to become a leading fish farmer and supplier in her district but says that her hopes are frustrated by the lack of technical skills and provision of cheap training on fish farming.
She wants the government to operationalize the fisheries project in Guluso that together with her colleagues they can cheaply buy feed and also get technical skills on fish farming.
Emmanuel Omara Pacoto the Gulu District Fisheries Officer says that the centre was this year leased out to a private company he identified as Agro-Max, a private agri-business company to rehabilitate and operationalize its operation for ten years.
The company will be responsible for making fish feeds, manufacturing fingerlings and selling to fish farmers at subsidized prices. He also advised fish farmers to be creative and use personal resources to gain knowledge as they wait for other support.
Rony Oved, the Director of Agro-Max declined to comment on the partnership noting that all the information was with Gulu district authorities.