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KARENGA FARMERS’ GROUP FIGHTS MALNUTRITION IN KARAMOJA WITH FISH FARMING

Alfred Belekek serves feeds for the fish at their pond in Karamoja

BY JAMES MUYA

KARENGA: FRIDAY, AUGUST 05, 2022

A farmers’ group in Karenga district in Karamoja has taken on fish farming and vegetable growing to fight malnutrition.

“We had 20 malnourished children in our families that were being given plumpy’nut. Only six of them got well, so, we decided to do fish farming and vegetables so that we could feed our families well,” Alfred Belekek, the group’s leader told the Kigezi News Agency.

They took that decision in 2019, eight months after Andre Foods International (AFI), a non-profit organization promoting food literacy and fighting malnutrition through community based sustainable models, had tried to help their malnourished children by supplying plumpy’nut food supplement.

Alfred Belekek is the leader of the group doing pond fish farming in Karamoja

Belekek, a resident of Nakelio village, in Lobalqngit sub-county, says they felt that fish plus vegetables would be a good mix of food for their families and also help them generate incomes.

Their group of ten women and ten men asked AFI to help them start the fishpond project and after training the group members on fish farming, they constructed one demonstration pond.

It was stocked with 1,500 fingerlings of both catfish and tilapia bought from Serere district in Teso sub-region.

However when harvest time cane nine months later, the group discovered that most of the tilapia had been eaten by the catfish.

Andre Foods International helped the group to set up fish farming in Karamoja

They then decided to construct another pond and separate catfish from tilapia in the subsequent stockings and have since increased the number of pond to four.

The fish is primarily for family consumption, but, 20 families cannot eat over 3,000 mature fish by themselves.

As such when the fish mature, group members sell a kilo of fish at sh15,000 to other community members and at the Karenga town main market.

They use the proceeds to buy more feeds and fingerlings for restocking.

Group members sell vegetables near the fish pond

Proceeds from the sale of surplus vegetables including tomatoes, onions and green pepper are saved in a group money box and used to stock beans and maize during harvest period for reselling and their own consumption during the off-season dry spells.

Now without a single malnourished child in their homes, Belekek says they have started moving around the sub-county to mobilize people to take up fish farming.

They also want every group member to at least start constructing their own fishponds, reasoning that AFI will not be sticking around in Karamoja forever.

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