25 February 2018, Uganda - Students learning to grow and catch fishes along the ponds of the Lira integrated school .
Ayuru Beatrice is the head master, and a teacher by profession. Teaching secondary level, though retired at the moment. A mother of six biological children and six other adopted children under here care, she explains:
'The fish project, we started it in the year 2005. But in 2003, 2004 we were mainly doing rice production. It was in 2005 when we realized that the yield wasn't good and we moved into fish farming with the view that one, it will support us in skills development for children in agriculture, both crop and fish farming. So that they only don't learn things in class, but also practically do the agriculture. With also the interest that the community can also benefit from whatever we are doing. If they can also learn from us and go back and do that would be good. That was the purpose of establishing the fish project at the fish farm. We were mainly producing for subsistence, for the students to improve on their diet and reduce cost of running the school. Then the little we were selling, we were selling to the community to improve on their nutrition also for the community. At the same time, any difference made would also support the school finances. When the loan issues heated us a lot, we got down. The farm was almost abandoned. But we still don't give up on feeding the children on fish because it was the immediate affordable mealueat for the children. When we left it at that pose of not going so much into commercial, was he time that we were visited by the team from FAO and they picked interest in us and they asked us: "what are the areas of challenges? I told them openly that we have management challenges. How we lack the skills and knowledge of fish farming. We did it out of passion and out of just the immediate solution of the nutrition of the children. But growing it to commercial, we lack the skill and knowledge to do it. We have the facility alright but at that very low level that cannot bring us to the market we are looking at for the near future. So that was when we were involved among other invited farmers by FAO through the district and they started training us on pond management, feeding fish from the time it's gotten from the hatchery to the time that we grow them out to be sold in the market. And I was happy that it was the first time when FAO gave us the support of the grow-out ponds that we saw the multitude. The big numbers. We had harvested fish but that was the first time we realized that fish can be fed and they grow out into big sizes like the Tilapia we would get a kilo, 500 grams. Most of them. And then the cat fish, 5kg, 4kilos. Very big sizes. We were excited. We would even see how the next would be heavy to bring them out and when you're feeding them, you'd see how they would really flood up the feeding points. So that was enough to give us more energy to say we go fish farming now. Seriou