The Ugandan government has blamed the “law of demand and supply” for the tumbling fish prices in the country, Chimp Corps report.
The Association of Fishers and Lake Users last week threatened to put down their tools and stop fishing and supplying fish to factories.
They accused government of looking on idly as fish prices went down and cheaper fish from foreign countries continued to flood Ugandan markets.
However, State Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Vincent Bumulangaki Ssempijja, said prices of fish in Uganda like any commodity are dictated by supply and demand both on the domestic market and international markets.
“On the domestic market, there has been increased catches of Tilapia following improved fishing methods as a result of improved enforcement activities. While this is positive, the increased supply has naturally led to the decline of fish prices following the law of demand and supply,” he said in a statement.
The prices of Nile perch are governed by the demand in the international markets.
Currently, the orders in the International market have reduced and so have the prices per kilogram.
At the beginning of the year the price per kilogram in the international market averaged US $ 5.8 per kilogram but this has been steadily falling with the average falling as low as US$2.94 per kilogram.
At local level, the factories are offering prices ranging from Shs 11,500 per kilogram for fish of 1.5 – 2 kg and up to Shs 35,000 for bigger fish.
The price of Nile perch in the local market is dictated by the price of fish maw. Fish with fish maw cost more per kilogram than fish where fish maw has been received.
Ssempijja said the prices of other species have remained unchanged and overall, Uganda is still offering better prices in the region compared to Tanzania and Kenya
“It is also reported that there is an influx of Tilapia fish in the region from developed countries but not the case in Uganda although it passes enroute to DRC hence reduced market at regional level,” he observed.
“. The fact that in past immature fish was being smoked or sundried for the regional markets and now that the current enforcement regime has curtailed this practice, such fish mass which is expected to have now increased (i.e. allowed to mature) is now supply locally.”
Ssempijja said guidelines for trade in artisanal processed fish have been developed to guide regional trade in smoked fish and that this will open up market avenue with high shelf life fish products.
The Ministry said it had updated the lists of all fish processing establishments and submitted to international markets with a view of expanding the market for Nile perch.
“In collaboration with Walimi Fish Cooperative Society, a Fish market has been opened at KCCA market at Wandegeya for farmed fish and a cold chain system is required to facilitate marketing of quality fish in Kampala but can also act as a regional market access point.”
The Minister also said initiatives were on to promote certification and eco-labelling (branding) of fish products to access higher products at international level.
The Ministry said it is promoting improved fish production technologies to ensure low cost of production and hence facilitate levelled completion in the market
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, The Chairman Uganda Fish Processors and Exporters Association and the Association of Fishers and Lake Users Association are expected to hold a meeting on Tuesday 9th April 2019 to discuss this matter.
The fishing community and fish processors has since been cautioned to desist from actions that may disrupt and interfere with the market accessibility.