The Department of Agriculture livestock and fisheries in Busia county has disbanded the leadership of all beach management units along Lake Victoria in Busia county.

According to County executive committee member in charge of the department Dr Symplicius Mukok, the decision to disband the leadership of the units was arrived at after they failed to explain how they are managing fish cage farming in Lake Victoria in Busia county.

“The current office holders in all these units have been in the office since 2016, which has affected fish production in the county and that is one of the reasons we need to have fresh leadership,” he said.

Addressing fish cage farmers at Mulukoba beach in Budalangi, Mr Mukok noted that all 20 Beach Management Units (BMUs) in Busia have failed to conduct elections for the last 7 years to pave the way for new leadership as required by the law.

“We have agreed that beach management units’ leadership around here are among the causes of the problems we are experiencing as fish cage farmers. The reason we have agreed to conduct elections in all 20 beach Management Units across the county,” he said.

He announced that his department would be stocking empty cages in the lake instead of removing them to increase fish production in the County.

“We have also agreed to stock the empty cages in the lake instead of removing them and finding a way of feeding the fish. This will increase fish production in the county and in the same spirit some of the cages will be handed over to community health volunteers to take care of themselves financially,” he said.

He challenged fishermen in Busia County to form a cooperative society to manage and run a fish processing plant at Mulukoba beach to avoid selling their fish to other processing plants outside the region.

“This processing plant is ours and we want to see it operating and the way to make it work is for fishermen to come together and form a big cooperative society to manage and run it. If you don’t do that, another investor will come and take over,” he noted.

He added, “It is through the cooperative societies you will aggregate these fish, and get the market. Society will provide employment opportunities for youths around here and the same society will give loans to members,” he explained.

Sourcing quality fingerlings and feeds for the fish in cages, according to him, has been the greatest challenge the fishermen are experiencing since the project was started in 2016.

“Like any other business, fish farming has its challenges and one of them is sourcing quality fingerlings for the cages and fish feed. But lucky enough, Wakhungu fish hatcheries are now up to date. It has the capacity to supply all cages in Busia county with quality fingerlings.”

On fish feed, Mr Mukok noted that, “Generally, sourcing fish feeds is expensive and the solution is to manufacture our own feed instead of depending on the imported ones, but lucky enough, we have got Mulwanda cotton ginnery. 

This will not only produce edible oil, it will produce animal feed as well, which will cut down the cost of buying feed. We are also coming up with an industrial park in Busia where animal feed will be manufactured.”

Insecurity around fish cages in Lake Victoria was also identified as one of the challenges facing fish cage farming.

“These people are not here at night, and we have those who come and steal fish at night from these cages affecting fish production in Busia,” he noted.

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