Sunday, April 18We Break the News

UGANDA: The untold story about the Nile Perch, fish maw (ennuni).

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Fish Maw popularly referred to in one of Uganda’s local language as “ENNUNI” is one of the internal body organs of the Nile Perch fish.

It helps the Nile Perch fish to breathe and float on water. In the recent past, fishmongers in a bid to sell the clean Nile Perch to their customers would flash out all the offal from the fish and throw it on the rubbish heap.

To them and their customers, the Ennuni was a public nuisance because it was of no use.

However, certain foreigners were collecting the Ennuni from the rubbish heap sometimes asking locals to do this for them for almost free.

Later on, some curious Ugandans investigated what these foreigners were doing with this useless Ennuni.

It has now been discovered that Ennuni is best commercial news for Uganda. In a Ennuni God has given Uganda the World richest resource, which shall in a short period of time, possibly in less than five years, catapult Uganda to the first World.

It is now known that Ennuni is the best delicacy for the over two billion Mongolian race of the Asian sub continent.

In particular, the Chinese attach traditional beliefs to Ennuni as a source of good luck and health and as such Ennuni is kept in homes ostensibly as decorative treasures.

In addition to being delicious, ennuni soups are reported to be taken by surgically operated patients to quicken recovery and provide relief to persistent coughs.

The soups are known to have low cholesterol, high protein and other nutrients and are a source of collagen, hence believed to improve skin tissues.

The proteins and other nutrients contained therein are believed to help the healing of lungs and kidneys.

Ennuni is also used in the manufacture of isinglass, a form of collagen used mainly in clarification and fining of some beers and wines. Isinglass can also be cooked into a paste and used for specialized gluing purposes.

Ennuni product is also reportedly used in the manufacture of some aircraft and space shuttle body parts, car parts and melamine plates and cups.

The now known treasure in Ennuni, has led to increased fishing pressure on the Uganda lakes.

Uncouth methods like throwing away the Nile Perch Fish on the lake after extracting the Ennuni, damaging the Ennuni during extraction, killing immature Nile Perch Fish for the sole purpose of extracting the Ennuni and throwing the mature fish back into the lake where the rotting fish pollutes the lake thus compromising hygiene and lake water quality, are some of the methods driven by greed and which led to a near depletion of Nile Perch Fish stock in the Uganda Waters.

Three years ago, the Nile Perch was saved from the verge of extinction when a UPDF Fisheries Protection Force Unit was deployed to guard Lake Victoria and other lakes in the country.

Thanks to government initiative, the Nile Perch is now recovering and the stock is going up.

The older and bigger the Nile perch grows in size, the bigger the ennuni and the bigger the money.

With deployment of the UPDF Fisheries Unit, it’s now possible to get 6 year Nile Perch which yields 3kgs of ennuni selling at US$ 2700 each.

However, currently, the sizes of ennuni vary and ranges in about 16 sizes.

Therefore, only the the average is used to estimate the cost of the ennuni. Because of the different sizes, the ennuni is sold in kilograms and is estimated at five hundred dollars per kilogramme.

The same foreigners, who were collecting the ennuni almost for free, are the same ones currently dominating the export of this treasurable natural Uganda resource.

They export the ennuni by air, transporting about 30 tonnes of ennuni twice a week from Uganda.

In one week therefore the value of ennuni exported can be put at $ 30 million. In one year this would add up to $144 billion.

For the Nile Perch Fish, government is God’s agent.

Government guards its growth and regulates its fishing.

However of the current $ 144 billion export, Government gets very little or nothing.

This is caused by a weak regulatory flame work.

While the Fish Act Cap.197 provides for the control of fishing, the conservation of fish, the purchase, sale, marketing and processing of fish, and matters connected therewith, this Act was formulated when Nile perch was not key and when the ennuni was not a prominent product.

The Nile Perch is purely carnivorous, hunts on its own and eats only live prey.

To produce, multiply and grow, no input is required beyond the provision of God and guard duty of the UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit.

Appropriate amendments on the current Fish Act setting standards for handling and processing of ennuni, approval of ennuni, processors and exporters, control of movement, export of ennuni will create the necessary environment of ennuni of World Export quality.

With these developments put in place the ennuni industry will boom beyond the current $ 144 billion annual export with the bigger percentage of this export value trickling down into the pockets of Ugandans in general and into the coffers of the national treasury in particular.

That this can happen within our lifetime is certainly not beyond the grace of God.

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