Project rationale in detail

The dwindling capture fisheries has stimulated fish farming in order to address the fish demand and supply gap that are experienced worldwide, Ghana and Uganda inclusive. Although, annual per capita consumption of fish in Uganda and Ghana was estimated to be higher than the African average of 10.1 kg; it is lower than that of 26.8 kg in industrialized countries (FAO, 2016; Asiedu et al, 2017). The fish sector contributes greatly to food and nutrient security; and provides employment opportunities with over two million Ugandans and 2.4 million Ghanaians depending on it for their livelihood (Jansen, et al 1999; Asiedu et al 2017; http://www.fao.org/fisheries/facp/UGA/en).

The sector is however faced with a number of challenges and there is evidence of the occurrence of fish bacterial diseases with a high impact on aquaculture productivity in the two countries (Ampofo and Clerk, 2010; Walakira, et al 2014; Wamala et al 2018). The prevailing fish health management strategies including the application of antimicrobial drugs have shortcomings, such as the occurrence of high levels of drug resistance.  Fish farming practices, such as the use of animal manure, wastewater, and disposal of untreated effluents from fish farms; as well as irrational drug use; may contribute to disease outbreaks and/or antibiotic resistance and spread to adjoining water bodies (Agoba, 2017). Indeed, irrational drug use and high levels of antimicrobial resistance, phenomena of great global concern, have been reported in the two countries (Mukasa et al, 2012; Agoba, 2016; Wamala et al 2018). Hence, alternative disease control approaches, such as the application of bacteriophages, are needed.

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The application of bacteriophages in animal production systems is practiced in some developed countries; aiming at minimizing drug use in order to address the global antibiotic resistance crisis. Some phage research has been done in some African countries, like Kenya, Egypt, and South Africa; but commercial phage products are not available (Nyambura et al., 2014; El-Shabiny, et al 2017). Currently, efforts to introduce the technology in Africa have been initiated through training workshops, organized and funded by Phages for Global Health (https://www.phagesforglobalhealth.org).

This action will evaluate the effectiveness of bacteriophages against fish bacterial pathogens in order to develop phage products for integrated fish disease management; hence actualizing phage applications on the continent. The latter will eventually contribute to improved fish farm productivity, thus enhancing the food, nutrition, and economic security in the two countries. In addition, it will contribute to the fight against antimicrobial resistance as sequelae of reduced antibiotic use. The project will contribute to SDG2; which is “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”.


  1. Agoba, E. E. (2016).The Use of Antibiotics and Resistance Patterns of Bacterial Isolates from Selected Fish Farms in the Ashanti region of Ghana by (Master’s thesis, KNUST)
  2. Asiedu B., Nunoo, F.K.E, Iddrisu Seidu and Yildiz F (2017) Prospects and sustainability of aquaculture development in Ghana, West Africa.. Cogent Food and Agriculture, 3:1, DOI 10.1080/23311932.2017.1349531
  3. Ampofi, J. A. and Clerk, G. C. (2010).Diversity of Bacteria Contaminants in Tissues of Fish Cultured in Organic Waste-Fertilized Ponds: Health Implications. The Open Fish Science Journal, Vol, 3, 142-146
  4. El-Shibiny A, El_Sahhar, S and Adel M (2017) Phage applications for improving food safety and infection control in Egypt. J Appl Microbiology 123 (2), 556-567
  5. FAO, 2016; http://www.fao.org/fishery/facp/UGA/en visited 4/6/2018
  6. Jansen E, Abila R, Owino J (1999). ‘Socio-economics of the Lake Victoria Fisheries: Constraints and opportunities for community participation in the management of the Lake Victoria fisheries’ – Report No. 6IUCN – The World Conservation Union
  7. Maina A.N., Mwaur, F.B., Oyugi, J., Goulding; Toribo, F.B., and Kariuki, S (2014) Characterisation of Vibrio cholerae bacteriophages isolated from environmental waters of the Lake Victoria region of Kenya. Current Microbiology 68(1), 64-70.
  8. Mukasa, D., Mugasa, CM. and Nakavuma, JL (2012) Antibiotic misuse by farmers in Ngoma sub county Nakaseke district, Uganda. African Journal of Animal and Biomedical Sciences 7:108-116
  9. Walakira, J., Akoll, P., Engole, M., Sserwadda, M., Nkambo, M., Namulawa, V., Rutaisire, J. (2014). Common fish diseases and parasites affecting wild and farmed Tilapia and catfish in Central and Western Uganda. Uganda Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 15(2), 1 – 11.
  10. Wamala, S. P., Mugimba, K. K., Mutoloki, S., Evensen, Ø., Mdegela, R., Byarugaba, D. K., & Sørum, H. (2018). Occurrence and antibiotic susceptibility of fish bacteria isolated from Oreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia) and Clarias gariepinus (African catfish) in Uganda. Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 21(1), 6.

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