A fisheries project worth UGX 1.5 billion in Gulu district has been left to waste. Ministry of Animal Industries and Fisheries built the Aquaculture Research and Development Centre was built in 2008 with funding from the African Development Bank.
It sits in a large swamp 3Kilometers north of Gulu town on the land, which used to host Laliya Fish Fry Centre in Laroo Division.
The Aquaculture Research and Development Centre has capacity to breed 100, 000 fish fry monthly.
It has 21 fish ponds, a water heating system, a standby regenerator, solar power, regulatory tank and hatchery among other facilities. Despite this, the center lies idle more than four years after it was established.
In August 2013, Jackson Wadanya, the Acting Commission Fisheries Department said the center would become fully operational once government finalize the procurement process but a year later, it is still under lock and key.
He however, says the procurement process is still ongoing for some missing components, adding that, it would be open once everything is put in place.
Wadanya says the firms that were subcontracted to install power; generator, pipes, and infrastructure are still finalizing works on three other centres before they move to Gulu to give the project a final touch before it opens.
He attributes the delay to open the apiculture centre to lack of power because the transformer that was connected to the centre was destroyed by wild fire.
He however, says government has already secured some funds adding that, work will start before the end of this financial year.
Information from Gulu Fisheries Department shows that, with its capacity of producing 100, 000 fingerlings each month, the center could earn government UGX 35 million going by the current price of fish fingers of UGX 350.
Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the Gulu District LC V Chairperson notes that once the center is up and running, local farmers would easily access fingerlings at a much cheaper price.
Mapenduzi also says the center will enhance the district’s capacity to train farmers with support from South Koreans expatriates.
Paul Ogwang, a fish farmer in Lira says currently he buys quality fingerlings from Kajansi, which takes him 12 hours.
He revealed that most of the farmers are being demoralized because of the high cost of transport involved and the complicated nature of transporting young fish to the farm for breeding.
The project is one of the four major artificial hatchery centers across the country aimed at boosting apiculture among local fish farmers. Two others are in Mbale, and Kajjansi on Kampala- Entebbe Highway.