Ground water fed fish ponds [Uganda]

Pii it Pi Gwooko Rec

technologies_2796 - Uganda

Completeness: 88%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

land user:

Okot Parikinson

Commercail farmer


Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Scaling-up SLM practices by smallholder farmers (IFAD)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
CDE Centre for Development and Environment (CDE Centre for Development and Environment) - Switzerland

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Declaration on sustainability of the described Technology

Is the Technology described here problematic with regard to land degradation, so that it cannot be declared a sustainable land management technology?



A high water table is favourable for digging shallow water wells for irrigation of cropland which increases production during the dry season.

2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Fish farming supported by availability of water is considered as profitable enterprise in Northern Uganda. Farmers use areas with either high water tables or swamps to locate the ground water recharged fish ponds and water for fish production and crop irrigation during the dry season.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Fish farming is a sustainable land management agricultural practice promoted by farmers on medium sized farms in Northern Uganda, where ground water supply in wetland is used to recharge at least three adjacent fish ponds for fish production during the wet and dry season with each pond established measuring 50 m long x 20 m wide and 1.5 m depth with the following inputs hoes, spades, panga, wheel barrow, feeds and labour. The sides of the ponds are grown with grassy vegetation to stabilize soil, as well as feed the fish. It is, therefore imperative that farmers who want to invest in such sustainable land management practice first seek professional advice from extension agents or from other experienced farmers, on post-harvest fish handling and preservation. In Northern Uganda, fish theft and poisoning are also rampant, especially where ponds are not properly guarded or fenced. The most costly aspects of pond fish farming include pond excavation, laboratory testing of water and surrounding soil properties; procurement of fries especially tilapia, fencing and procurement of fish feeds. The average cost of establishing each pond is approximately US$428; while putting fish firies establishment goes for an average of US$ 71 per pond.
It is important to note that at the beginning the capital investments are high; these include paying for construction and buying fish fries to put in the ponds. However, in the long term the benefits exceed the costs. This is because fish farming is a high value enterprise with potential to provide household food, nutrition and income security.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.4 Videos of the Technology

Comments, short description:

Video on Ground water fish ponds in Lamwo District.




Lamwo District

Name of videographer:

Issa Aiga

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:

Northern Region,Uganda

Further specification of location:

Lamwo District

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • applied at specific points/ concentrated on a small area

Map showing technology site in Northern Uganda.

Concentrated in a wetland.

2.6 Date of implementation

Indicate year of implementation:


If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • 10-50 years ago

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through land users' innovation
  • through projects/ external interventions
Comments (type of project, etc.):

Received training from the extension agent.

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • improve production
  • create beneficial economic impact

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Annual cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • cereals - maize
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 2

Harvest twice a year (May and December).

Grazing land

Grazing land

Animal type:
  • cattle - non-dairy beef
  • cows, fish: Nile perch, tilapia and wild fish





cattle - non-dairy beef



Waterways, waterbodies, wetlands

Waterways, waterbodies, wetlands

  • Swamps, wetlands
Main products/ services:

Fish fingers

3.3 Has land use changed due to the implementation of the Technology?


Land was under maize plantation, which was usually planted within one year before the implementation of the technology.

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • surface water management (spring, river, lakes, sea)
  • beekeeping, aquaculture, poultry, rabbit farming, silkworm farming, etc.

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A1: Vegetation/ soil cover
  • A2: Organic matter/ soil fertility
vegetative measures

vegetative measures

  • V2: Grasses and perennial herbaceous plants
  • V3: Clearing of vegetation
structural measures

structural measures

  • S5: Dams, pans, ponds
management measures

management measures

  • M1: Change of land use type

Grasses are allowed to grow to stabilise the levees.

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bh: loss of habitats
  • Bp: increase of pests/ diseases, loss of predators
water degradation

water degradation

  • Hs: change in quantity of surface water
  • Hp: decline of surface water quality



Vegetation around the pond stabilize the soils which reduces erosion.

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • restore/ rehabilitate severely degraded land

Due to vegetation growth around the fish ponds.

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Using 6 people paid on daily basis the farmer digs a three adjacent fish ponds either in a wetland on an average land size of less than 0.5 acres each water fed fish pond measuring 50 m long x 20 m wide dug to a depth of not more than 1.5 m. to allow water passively replenishes the pond, The Species kept are Nile perch, tilapia and wild fish.





4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify how costs and inputs were calculated:
  • per Technology area
Indicate size and area unit:

0.5 acres

other/ national currency (specify):


If relevant, indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (e.g. 1 USD = 79.9 Brazilian Real): 1 USD =:


Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:

5000 per person per day

4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Excavation of soil for ponds During the dry season
2. Soil testing During the dry season
3. Water testing Routine, dry and wet season
4. Buying fries Dry and wet season
5. Stocking the fish Wet season and dry season
6. Feeding Dry and wet season
7. Planting around the pond Dry and wet season

Planted vegetation can also be used as feed supplement.

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Monthly persons days persons 6.0 150000.0 900000.0 1000.0
Equipment Hoes pieces 6.0 10000.0 60000.0 100.0
Equipment Spade peices 3.0 10000.0 30000.0 100.0
Equipment panga pieces 3.0 10000.0 30000.0 100.0
Equipment Wheel barrow piece 2.0 250000.0 500000.0
Other Fish fries for 3 ponds fries 3000.0 1000.0 3000000.0 100.0
Other Soil tests 1 2.0 350000.0 700000.0 1000.0
Other water tests 1 2.0 380000.0 760000.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 5980000.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 1708.57

Soil and water tests are done twice before establishment and once after establishment.

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Slashing twice a year
2. Feeding Routine

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Persons days for feeding and slashing/ monthly Persons 1.0 150000.0 150000.0 100.0
Other Feeds monthly Kilograms 15.0 4000.0 60000.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 210000.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 60.0

Low costs for paying labour due to reduced workload.
Also equipment like hoe , spade, panga are purchased at the time of establishment so no need to incur more costs. Additional costs are incurred when they wear out. At the time of the interview, the land user had not incurred costs on buying tools for maintaining the technology.

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Labour for establishing and maintaining the pond.

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specify average annual rainfall (if known), in mm:


Specifications/ comments on rainfall:

Two rainy season and two dry season- Bi modal.

Agro-climatic zone
  • humid

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Indicate if the Technology is specifically applied in:
  • concave situations
Comments and further specifications on topography:

Situated in the wetland.

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Soil texture (> 20 cm below surface):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

< 5 m

Availability of surface water:


Water quality (untreated):

good drinking water

Is water salinity a problem?


Is flooding of the area occurring?


Comments and further specifications on water quality and quantity:

The farmer has put a drainage system and the levees long enough.

5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • medium
Habitat diversity:
  • medium

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Sedentary or nomadic:
  • Sedentary
Market orientation of production system:
  • mixed (subsistence/ commercial)
Off-farm income:
  • less than 10% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • poor
Individuals or groups:
  • groups/ community
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • women
  • men
Age of land users:
  • youth
  • middle-aged

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • medium-scale

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • communal/ village
  • individual, not titled
Land use rights:
  • communal (organized)
  • individual
Water use rights:
  • communal (organized)
  • individual

The technology on a communal land owned by the family.

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


risk of production failure

Comments/ specify:

Well managed with constant feeding.

product diversity

Comments/ specify:

Promoting different fish fries on the fish ponds.

production area

Quantity before SLM:


Quantity after SLM:


Comments/ specify:

Started with one fish pond and increased to three adjacent fish ponds.

land management

Comments/ specify:

Vegetation planted/ allowed to grow around the ponds to act as fodder and stabilizer

Water availability and quality

demand for irrigation water

Comments/ specify:

for fish production.

Income and costs

expenses on agricultural inputs

Comments/ specify:

Purchase of feeds.

farm income

Comments/ specify:

High due to sale of fish.

diversity of income sources

Comments/ specify:

Sale of fish.

economic disparities

Comments/ specify:

Between those who have fish ponds and those who don't have.


Comments/ specify:

Increased workload at establishment for digging ponds, feeding the fish fries compared to maintenance.

Socio-cultural impacts

food security/ self-sufficiency

Comments/ specify:

Relies on fish from the pond.

recreational opportunities

Comments/ specify:

Other farmers coming to learn from the technology.

SLM/ land degradation knowledge

Comments/ specify:

Training by the extension worker on feeding and management.

Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

water quantity

Comments/ specify:

Water re-charged from underground.

harvesting/ collection of water

Comments/ specify:

Underground harvesting and kept in the pond for fish production during the dry season.

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

Vegetation cover

Comments/ specify:

Vegetation allowed to grow on the ponds as stabilizer and feeds.

beneficial species

Comments/ specify:

More fish fries varieties stocked by the farmer in the ponds :3 different species.

pest/ disease control

Comments/ specify:

Training by the extension agent on how to control.

Climate and disaster risk reduction

drought impacts

Comments/ specify:

under ground water harvesting water to be favour fish survival during the dry season.

fire risk

Comments/ specify:

located in the wetland.

6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

water availability

Comments/ specify:

re-charged from under ground,

6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season increase or decrease How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature decrease well
seasonal temperature wet/ rainy season decrease well
annual rainfall decrease well
seasonal rainfall wet/ rainy season decrease moderately

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought very well
land fire well
Biological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
epidemic diseases moderately

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly negative

Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly positive

Long-term returns:

slightly positive


slightly negative at the time of establishment with purchase of labour, purchase of fish fries and lab testing but positive when workload reduces and its associated costs with the farmer harvesting and selling fish for income.

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • 1-10%
If available, quantify (no. of households and/ or area covered):

Mostly those with some capital

Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 11-50%

More farmers were trained by National Agricultural Advisory services (NAADS) and Open Wealth Creation (OWC), acquired knowledge and skills and started on their own without material incentives.

6.6 Adaptation

Has the Technology been modified recently to adapt to changing conditions?


6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Provides high benefits (income) in the short run.
Its replicable elsewhere by both small scale and large scale land users.
Uses recharged from under ground which is available all year round.
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Good and sustainable technology. Does not require constant labour once its established. Low costs of labour required for routine and maintenance activities.
Can survive on planted vegetation to supplement fish feeds.

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
Requires high level sophisticated skills in water and soil testing / high costs. Testing using local indicators.
Not fenced. Possibility of poisong the fish. Fencing the fish pond and if possible employ a local secuirty guard.
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Labour and capital intentive at the time of establishment/ Appropriate to the rich. Link farmers to Agricultural loans and pay after selling fish.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys


  • interviews with land users


When were the data compiled (in the field)?


Links and modules

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