With the cost of feeding animals especially chicken, piggery and fish relatively high, many farmers are counting losses.
Gudula Naiga, a director at Gudie Leisure farm, attributes this to the the high demand for silver fish (MUKENE) which is a key ingredient in animal feeds. But Naiga and other farmers have found a way out of this conundrum.
In order to maximise profits, they have found a substitute for silver fish: the water hyacinth.
The scarcity of poultry feeds has never been predictable on the Ugandan market and when the situation comes to silver fish, the industry hard tends to harden forcing some farmers out of business.
Naiga says that she was not ready to abandon the work she loves most.
“When you look at the feed combination which includes maize bran,silver fish and others which take over 70% of the animal feeds…the water hyacinth covers up to 30% hence reducing on the cost of buying feeds” she said.
Naiga says through her intensive research, she has discovered that the water hyacinth contains most of the essential
nutrients for animal growth but making a palatable feed from them is not easy because of the high moisture.
She says since the weed multiplies very fast, it is in a better position to provide a reliable and cheap source of food for both her chicken and the pigs.
“The weed contains almost all the required nutrients from carbohydrates, proteins and others which are essential for animal growth and they are the same in silver fish,” she says.
However,Naiga says that the plants can only be fed to chicken after being converted into pellets but its is fed to pigs directly.
Currently over 300 pigs on her farm are fed on 25 bags of cropped water hyacinth daily.
Being a wild plant they make sure its controlled in a specific area and planting it fish ponds helps prevent it from spreading all over.