To transform the East African fish farming industry.
Top 10 Under 40: Orishaba Benjamin
Orishaba Benjamin knows well that hard work can transform any hatchery.
The 28-year-old started his career in 2017, working on a small catfish farm in central Uganda while also studying Fisheries and Aquaculture at Makerere University.
“During my time there, I saw that critical advancements were needed in the country’s aquaculture sector,” said Benjamin. “I wanted to change the perception that fish farming is a ‘poor man’s job’, into an innovative field using my university degree.”
One of the biggest challenges he has had to face in his six-year career so far is in 2020. Yalelo Farms in Uganda was hit with a 30 per cent fingerling survival rate after an outbreak of the bacterial infection, Francisellosis. Yalelo Uganda is the country’s leading tilapia producer.
Benjamin worked as the hatchery feeding supervisor and when the mass mortalities hit, he was undeterred by the challenge. He was quick to change several procedures for a well-detailed hatchery biosecurity plan.
“When he left Yalelo in January 2022, survival in the hatchery was 80 per cent, followed by the best FCRs in company history,” said Andrew Leingang, marine scientist and mentor to Benjamin.
Benjamin left Yalelo to start his own consultancy firm called Kachotera Aquatics International, which helps East African fish farmers to achieve profitability and sustainability. He now balances his business with his role as hatchery supervisor for the government’s tilapia project at Aquagrow International.
“I eager to learn more about new technology in the sector so that I can help many local fish farmers in Uganda and Africa to achieve their farming projects,” said Benjamin. “This led me to work with big commercial fish farms where technology and best fish farming practices are in place to enrich my expertise and experience.”
Meet the farmer: Benjamin Orishaba
Benjamin Orishaba, a 28-year-old Ugandan, is currently managing three tilapia hatcheries for a government fish farming project in Cote D’Ivoire and also runs his own aquaculture consultancy company.
He was recently named as one of the 10 most promising people under 40 years old in the entire aquaculture world by Hatchery International.
What inspired you to pursue a career in aquaculture?
I initially wanted to be a doctor, but the scarcity of fish in western Uganda inspired me to develop the local aquaculture industry. Studying fisheries and aquaculture at Makerere University with 30 students gave me the ambition to become one of the country’s outstanding fish farmers. I am currently focused on reducing carbon footprints and the environmental footprint of aquaculture operators, via my consultancy group – too many farmers release their pond water into lakes untreated and overfeed their cages, causing a range of problems.
What have been the highlights of your career to date?
In 2020 while I was working at Yalelo Uganda, our tilapia fingerlings' survival rates slumped after being hit by a bacterial infection. However, we managed to change several practices and procedures. Plus, I developed a well-detailed biosecurity protocol for the hatchery and by the time I left in January 2022 the fingerlings’ survival rate at the hatchery was 80 percent – both for the sex-reversal and post-sex-reversal stages. This achievement was followed by a FCR of 1.0 – the hatchery’s best – which I’m very proud of.
This experience has allowed me to overcome many hatchery challenges and develop sustainable solutions for other fish farms. Currently in Ivory Coast I have had a lot of success in tilapia hatcheries in terms of fish survival and my expertise and love for new technologies has improved fingerling health and growth rates.
What was your reaction to being recognised as one of the 10 most exciting young farmers in the world by Hatchery International?
I was extremely honoured to be one of the recipients of the Hatchery International Top 10 Under 40 Awards. Given my humble background in a small village in Uganda East of Africa, it took a lot of sacrifices, resilience, and hard work to reach here, but all this has only strengthened me to be the person I am today. The award inspires me to keep working hard and impacting many through my career as a hatchery professional.