For just a quarter an acre of land, you can have 2 fish ponds with 5000 fish in each. Each fish goes for 7-8k. Do the Maths, after just 5 months you can bag 40millions in profit. Like the sound of it, don’t you? Meet Emmanuel Ayikobua a lawyer by training in his early 30s, who has decided to go into this lucrative business.
Qn: Emmanuel, what does it take to go into business?
Emmanuel: it is the drive to succeed and passion. In my case I have always had a passion to be better that what I saw around me back home and I love hand work.
Qn: So what attracted you to fish farming?
Emmanuel: I have a friend and former school mate with ponds on Entebbe road. When I visited her place, I got so inspired by it. When we talked about the project, I realized that it could suit me best because it has a number of advantages.
- Fish don’t need medicine.
- They don’t easily die
- They are not labour intensive, once they are fed, you are good to go.
- A single pond serves you many years to come.
- Fish farming has a lot of growth potential, one can sell fish fresh, dried, tinned, fish fillet. The options are very many.
- It does not need large piece of land.
- Fish don’t eat a lot of food.
Qn: what does one need to set up a fish farm?
Emmanuel: the first item you need is land. Many youths don’t have land but there are other ways of getting it, you can ask a parent for permission to use part of their land. You can come together with trusted friends in a village and buy a small piece of land and work together for the good of the farm. There is an option of coming to terms with a land owner to use their land and you share profits on agreed upon percentages.
In my case, I left my job and bought a piece of land near a river stream in Arua. This land came off cheaply because of this reason.
Qn: So what do we need?
Emmanuel: when you have the land, next is pond sinking or excavation. My 1st pond was 20 by 21meters wide and 1.5 meters deep on the deeper end and 1 meter on the shallow end. It is here that the fish lay their eggs. I hired 15 men to dig and 2 women to cook and run any errands.
I channeled the water from the river stream through pipes to my pond. Fish need fresh and not treated water. So I keep refreshing my pond with water from the river stream through the pipes. You also have to make sure that flood water from the rain does not over flood your pond otherwise all the fish will swim off with the water.
So for this entire process I spent 1.5M and it lasted 21 days
Qn: So where did you get the fish?
Emmanuel: I bought 5000 fish fingerings [young fish] at 300/= each from a person who breeds them in Arua. So that was another 1.5M. I bought feeds from a fish company in Kajjansi. A sack was at 280,000/= and that lasted a month. I have Tilapia fish and they take between 4 and 5 months to reach maturity and feeding was going to be very expensive. So with time I developed a formula of maize, soy, powered silver fish and my costs have gone down.
Qn: So what are the day to day activities on the farm?
Emmanuel: I have 3 employees, a night watchman to make sure wrong characters don’t steal or harm my fish, a lady who makes the fish food and a man who feeds and checks on the fish, he also monitors the sinking of a second fish pond.
Qn: So that’s about 6 months without profit only expenditure. That’s too costly for youths.
Emmanuel: if youths come together and they are about 4, they can spend less by sharing the work among themselves. They also don’t need to sink a big pond or start with 5,000 fish. When you have a will there is a way around the challenge.
Qn: Now we get to the profits, a lawyer in fish farming. How much is in for you?
Emmanuel: A lot indeed. I did a research before I started this and I was told that Arua consumes 2 tonnes [2000kg] of fish a day. Tilapia of 1kg goes for 7,000/= so if I sell all my fish in a week, I will have made 35M. But as they grow heavier, their price goes higher. When I went to hotels for contracts, I realized that I needed more ponds and the 2nd one is almost done.
Tips for youths wishing to join fish farming
- Research about the idea and go see a person who has ponds.
- Each district has a fisheries officer, consult them.
- In Kampala, there are many places you can go to and get information. I also went to Uganda Egypt aquatic in Bugolobi.
- Talk to someone who has land and you can come up with an agreement on how to use their land.
- If you can, talk to a person with money, convince them on how the project will earn you and them more money. They will invest about 3 Million with you. Be honest about the project and its operations.
- You have to be willing to sacrifice time and more for your project. You have to be there to monitor the progress of your fish otherwise the watchman can sell them in your absence.
You can contact Emmanuel on:
Email: [email protected]
Good luck if you want to go into fish farming.
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