FEATURE:Rwandan women gaining from fish farming

It is not only in the Rwandan parliament that women outnumber their male counterparts but also in other areas, such as fish farming.
Marie Grace Mukamusoni, at one of the fishponds.   The New Times / D. Umutesi
Marie Grace Mukamusoni, at one of the fishponds. The New Times / D. Umutesi

It is not only in the Rwandan parliament that women outnumber their male counterparts but also in other areas, such as fish farming.

With this whole month dedicated to every woman and girl in Rwanda, women are showcasing their potential in different sectors of the country.

 In an interview with The New Times, Dr. Wilson Rutaganira, Coordinator of Integrated Installation and Interior Lakes Management Support Project (PAIGELAC) in the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, said that there are more women in fish farming than men.

“The total number of members involved in the project is 57,652 and 37,100 of that number are women, while 27,031 are men. The biggest number of men is practicing fishing at the lakes. The women are more involved in fish farming,” Dr. Rutaganira reveals.

He further explains that these members formed over 155 cooperatives accross the country.

“It is through these cooperatives that resources are directly delivered by the coordinating office, thus making the work of the fish farming project easier,” Dr. Rutaganira acknowledges.

The cooperative of fish farming in Gasabo District (Copamaga) which is situated in Mulindi town, is made up of 22 members, eight of them women. The cooperative has over 10 fishponds of fish with close to 15,000 Tilapia being reared.

According to Costatine Mujawayezu,  the treasurer for Copamaga, the fish will be harvested in a months’ time.

“The fish take six months to grow. The species of the fish we are rearing is tilapia and we start rearing it when it’s 30 grams. The tilapia is big enough to be harvested at the weight of 1 kilogramme,” Mujawayezu explains.

She further said that their fishponds vary in size; some are 50 by 25 square meters or 20 by 25 square meters.

“The number of fish in each pond varies depending on the size of the pond. When the fish grows, it reproduces. We are planning to start selling young fish to people who want to start fish farming,” she discloses.

Besides fish, the cooperative also rears rabbits. The houses are built above the fishponds.

“The rabbit litter is nutritious for the fish. Rabbit litter supplements the manure and other food compliments that the fish feed on.  With proper and nutritious feeding, the fish grow bigger in a shorter time,” Mujawayezu explains.

She also said that the cooperative started rearing 50 rabbits eight months ago but now has 600.

“We have so far sold 150 rabbits to other fish farming cooperatives. Rabbits reproduce quickly and in big numbers. These rabbits are cool environment friendly. Rabbit’s can’t survive very cold places hence building the wooden house above the fish ponds for them to stay in,” Mujawayezu explains.

So far, the cooperative has not encountered any problems ever since its establishment in 2009.

PAIGELAC facilitates most of the cooperative‘s activities, especially in capacity building. 

Marie Grace Mukamusoni, also a member of the cooperative as well as a mother, said that being in the cooperative economically and socially empowers her.

“As a group and as an individual we develop each day that goes by. The welfare of my family improves each day and when we harvest, the children enjoy the fish. Fish is very nutritious and helps in dealing with malnutrition cases in our community,” Mukamusoni expresses. 

The fishponds are under watch day and night so that no one can encroach on the fish before their due period. The cooperative employed security personnel who keep watching the ponds for hours on end. 

 

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