Fisheries extension system and its response to the needs of fish farmers in Uganda: A case study of Jinja, Mukono, Kampala and Wakiso Districts.
Nyamutale, Placid Asiimwe Tibyata
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This study assessed the responsiveness of the fisheries extension training system to fish farmers’ needs in Uganda with a focus on Kampala, Mukono, Wakiso and Jinja districts. Fisheries extension was introduced in Uganda in 1968 in order to increase fish production. Special efforts were put in place to have extension staff trained at certificate, diploma and degree levels. It was assumed that extension education was the missing link. Despite the training of extension workers, favarouble climate and conducive policy framework, fish farming has registered very little progress as compared to other two agricultural sub-sectors of crop and livestock farming. In this study, the extension system was deemed to be at variance with the farmers’ needs or there were other factors other than training that impinged on the sector. A survey was carried out in the four districts and in training institutions of; Makerere University (Zoology Department) and Fisheries Training Institute to establish the reason for the dismal performance of the sector that could be traced to extension. Data were collected through semi-structured checklists questionnaires and documentary review schedules. It was entered and analyzed by use of SPSS and A one-way ANOVA and was used to answer the main objective of the study. The results showed that there was no noticeable variation between training and improved fish production levels, p >0.10; extension staff had gaps in knowledge and skills in fish farming like fish breeding, brood stock management, water quality control and nutrition requirements. The training of extension workers at both institutions was so generalized that students could not get the needed skills and knowledge in pond fish farming, and institutions lacked facilities to provide practical lessons to their students. Extension workers were not being adequately facilitated by districts to make regular visits to farmers. Farmers’ needs were; training in fish production skills, and information about credit accessibility. The study concluded that extension workers were left with knowledge gaps during their training in fish farming and in-turn, farmers were not getting enough information from these extension workers to carryout successful fish farming production The researcher recommends that practical training be emphasized by educational institutions to enhance performance of extension workers; there should be specialized refresher training for field extension staff packaged and carried out to address farmers’ training needs. Government should increase funding for training institutions to enable them carry out focused training on fish farming.