L. Kijjanebarola in which the government has delayed to restock Nile tilapia
The proposed restocking of Lake Kijjanebarola with Tilapia to boost fish production in Rakai district has stalled for nine years. In 2013, President, Yoweri Museveni directed the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal, Industry, and Fisheries (MAAIF) to restock Lake Kijjanebarola to improve the people’s livelihoods through fishing sector.
This stemmed from concerns by the fishermen and district authorities over the declining fish stock in the lake.
They attributed the problem to overfishing due to the increasing number of fishermen on the lake, the use of destructive fishing gears as well as encroachment on ecosystems.
L. Kijjanebarola harbors fish species including silver cyprinid locally known as Mukene, haplochromines (Nkejje), Eels (Ensonzi), African lungfish, and tilapia.
The district fisheries officials and Kooki cultural institution, say that they have tried following up on the proposed restocking of the lake in vain. John Mugumya, the Fisheries Officer in charge of the Kooki constituency, says that they want the presidential directive fulfilled since the lake contributes to the country’s revenue.
He says that they wanted to restock Tilapia because it is one of the endangered fish species in the lake, which has a high demand. Mugumya further explains that MAAIF engaged a consultant three years ago to conduct a feasibility study on the lake.
Mugumya says that the consultant visited the district and conducted the study but he has never returned since and the ministry of agriculture has never given them feedback about the proposed restocking of the lake.
Hadad Mulindwa, the Kooki Minister of Agriculture, says the lake is significant in Kooki since it is a source of livelihood. He noted that they have contacted MAAIF several times for feedback in vain. Jonathan Mugumya, a fisherman at Kalunga landing site in Kyalurangira sub-county, says that scores of young and mature fish died when part of L. Kijjanebarola disappeared on May 12, 2021, hence the decline in the fish population.
Joyce Ikwaput Nyeko, the Acting Director of Fisheries Resources Management- MAAIF, says she has no details about the project. She has promised to consult on the matter. She has advised Rakai fisheries officials to write to the Permanent Secretary -MAAIF expressing the concern for redress.
According to the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), the Fisheries sector remains the second highest foreign exchange earner for Uganda and the investment in the sector is estimated at over 714 billion shillings with the employment of over 700,000 people.