The Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, has decried the continued use of roads in Busoga Sub-region for drying fish, cassava and other foodstuff.
“When I was driving here, there is cassava and fish being dried on the ground and roads, which I think is not very healthy,” Ms Kadaga said at the weekend while marking the World Fisheries Day at Wakawaka Village in Bulidha Sub-county, Bugiri District.
Mr Vincent Ssempijja, the Minister of Agriculture, who also graced the function, promised to distribute batch driers.
“We are going to create a mindset change to help people understand that this is very dangerous. Moulds picked from the ground when you throw cassava down cause aflatoxin which cause cancers,” Mr Ssempijja said.
He added: “So the rampant cancers in Busoga Sub-region are partly related to some of these things. We have already put the batch driers in the budget and have to get them as fast as possible.”
Mr Ssempijja also urged Ugandans to embrace fish farming, saying there is increased global demand for farmed fish, especially from non-salty water bodies.
“Fishing is one of the biggest sectors of the economy, but if we don’t put our efforts into it, it will be bad. It is very possible for Ugandans to grow rich from fish farming because there is growing international demand for farmed fish,” the minister said, adding that about 52 per cent of fish consumed globally is farmed fish.
“Our advantage is that we have fresh water bodies while international fish breeders do so in salty waters,” Mr Ssempijja said.
He said Uganda can reach its goal of catching 1.7 million tonnes of fish annually because the country has the biggest potential in Africa to produce farmed fish in specific sizes and age.
Ms Kadaga pledged to support the Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill, which is due for tabling to Parliament.
“We have been very concerned about this sector and it is one of the issues always on the Order Paper; so if you have found a solution and are bringing the law to help in rationalising the activities and management of the fish sector, you have my support,” she said.
The Bill seeks to stimulate fish farming and help in protect lakes in a more organised manner without affecting stakeholders.
Exports. Data from Bank of Uganda indicates that in the period between January and July 2020, Uganda exported 11,402 tonnes of fish worth $72.97m (Shs268b).
However, this was a decline of 46 per cent from the 17,541 tonnes worth $106.53m (Shs392b) that Uganda had exported in the period last year.
Over the last 15 years, the fisheries sector has played an important social and economic role in Uganda as the second largest foreign exchange earner, contributing 2.6 per cent of gross domestic product and 12 per cent to agricultural gross domestic product.
However, this had declined because of immature and illegal fishing which depleted fish in a number of lakes.