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Lira farmers urged to invest in fish farming

LIRA– Tom Anyii, Chief Executive Officer Taf Agro Tourism Mixed Farm at Telela village in Lira City East Division, has advised farmers across the country to invest in fish farming but also warned them not to do farming as a last resort, saying it can be a recruitive business if managed well.

Anyii made the call recently as he took this reporter on a tour of his farm. His farm has fish archery, 12 fish ponds, 400 beehives, 500 poultry, rabbits, goats, and sheep from which he earns money on a daily basis.

Anyii who resigned from government service said he was inspired to join farming in 2007 after visiting a farm in Masaka district alongside the councilors of Ngetta Subcounty where he was serving as chief.

“I was inspired and motivated when I visited that farm,” Anyii said, adding that when he came back from the learning trip, he tendered in his resignation letter.

“I realised that as a civil servant, I was doing nothing despite a lot of pressure being mounted by politicians,” he added.

Anyii started beekeeping, citrus farming, and poultry rearing but years down the road, one thing led to the other as his farm expanded.

He has constructed honey processing factory and stocked catfish, tilapia, miracap among others. He has 80,000 mature fish (catfish and tilapia) and 10,000 fingerlings.

“Fish project is one of the best enterprises which many people don’t know because of the high demand,” he said.

“The purpose for which we started fish hatchery in Lango is because we have hatcheries that were built by the government and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization but they are not working,” he said.

He added that one time he looked for the fingerlings to stock in his pond but failed to get until he travelled upto Serere in Teso Sub-region.

“I decided to construct a hatchery and I kicked off the process,” he added.

With the new establishment, Anyii now targets to earn sh2b from fish project apart from beekeeping, honey processing, goat rearing among others.

“My target in two years is to raise like Shs 2 billion from fish project only apart from our core apiary project,” Anyii who left local government 15 years ago said.

He said he wanted also to raise the number of fish ponds to 40, beehives to 1,000 and train over 50,000 youth in Lango, Acholi, West Nile and Karamoja in beekeeping as a business.

“So far with the help of partners, I have trained about 20000 youth and a number of them are picking up beekeeping as a business,” he said.

However, Anyii has had to look for funding to boost his farm enterprises. For instance, he accessed some funding through the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda [DINU],  a government of Uganda programme supported by the European Union, and the United Nations Capital Development Fund [UNCDF].

UNCDF runs a blended finance facility, Support to Agricultural Revitalization & Transformation [START] Facility, for SMEs involved in agribusiness value addition to improve access to finance for agro-processors through business development services, concessional loans, and partial credit guarantees.

He said: “When I first heard about the START Facility, I was hesitant to apply. It was my first time applying for a facility, and I did not think that I would get it. I applied, and I got it. But it has been a long process to get the money. For some time, I thought the money would not come, and I considered withdrawing from the process. I now understand certain things needed to be put in place before we could receive the money. If it were not for the UNCDF team, I would not be here. They were there every step of the way, even helping me with planning and budgeting and set up some systems for the business.”

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