Mukene: A Promising Fish with Untapped Potential in Uganda's Fisheries yet mismanaged as animal food.


Mukene: A Promising Fish with Untapped Potential in Uganda's Fisheries yet mismanaged as animal food.

In the vibrant fishing communities surrounding Lake Victoria, a valuable opportunity lies within a small fish species known as mukene. Despite its abundance and rich nutritional content, mukene often finds itself relegated to animal feed, a practice that experts deem unfortunate. This article explores the untapped potential of mukene as a nutritious food source and highlights efforts to promote its proper handling and utilization.

The Nutritional Powerhouse:

Mukene, a rapidly proliferating fish species in Lake Victoria, offers an exceptional nutritional profile. It is a rich source of essential elements such as iron, zinc, calcium, vitamins, and crucial fatty acids like omega-3 and 6. By incorporating mukene into the human diet, particularly among vulnerable groups such as women of childbearing age and children under five, micronutrient deficiencies can be effectively addressed.

Unlocking Economic Potential:

Beyond its nutritional value, mukene presents a significant economic opportunity. Currently, a 100kg packet of mukene is valued at approximately sh3,000 locally, but its value skyrockets to $10 (sh36,000) when exported to international markets in Europe or the US. This untapped potential underscores the need for proper handling, packaging, and marketing strategies to maximize the economic benefits of mukene.

Promoting Sustainable Practices:

Recognizing the prevailing mishandling of mukene, experts emphasize the importance of treating it as a primary food source rather than solely animal feed. The Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO), in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), is spearheading initiatives to educate fish handlers and promote best practices for mukene handling and marketing. This $1.5 million project focuses on improving harvesting methods, adopting eco-friendly energy systems, and enhancing the value chain through technology and suitable equipment.

Strengthening Local Communities:

The IFAD project takes a holistic approach by empowering women groups in packaging, benefiting thousands of women, youth, and men involved in fisheries. By providing training on technology adoption and supplying suitable equipment, the project aims to revolutionize mukene processing and create sustainable livelihoods. The potential adoption of this equipment by the private sector further highlights the viability and scalability of this transformative endeavor.

Mukene, a small fish with big potential, deserves our attention and efforts to unlock its nutritional and economic benefits. Through proper handling, value addition, and sustainable practices, we can transform mukene from an overlooked resource into a nutritious food source and a driver of economic growth. By supporting initiatives like the LVFO-IFAD project, we can empower local communities, promote sustainable fisheries, and ensure that mukene becomes a symbol of Uganda's untapped potential.

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