Written by John Kabaka
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More than 300 fish farmers in Kakamega County owning more than 350 fish ponds have lost their fish worth Sh 8 million due to floods caused by the heavy downpour being experienced in the Western region.
Kakamega county fisheries officer James Mahaja.
According to the Kakamega County fisheries development officer James Mahaja the ponds which mostly had no breathing space were washed away losing the precious commodity.
“We urge farmers now to ensure that their ponds have a breathing space, water would not be filled to the maximum and the outlets should be well checked to ensure what occurred does not occur again because it is indeed a loss to the farmers,” said Mahaja.
Kakamega County has more than 5,600 fish farmers owning more than 6,800 ponds.
In the last 6 months the farmers harvested more than 305,800 kilograms of fish in a pond area of 847,500 metres squared. This in the past half a year earned farmers a total of Kshs 63,415,047.
“Fish farming in the county is picking up well and the statics you have seen is only for the last 6 months, the farmers have netted more than Kshs 100m from fish farming for the last one and half years,” Remarked Mr. Mahaja.
The county fisheries though reiterated that some constituencies in the county are doing better than others, He cited Lurambi, Lugari and Mumias as the constituencies with much dedicated fish farmers.
He urged farmers to work even harder and produce more fish especially with the coming of the fish processing plant that will be completed by August this year.
The on going fish processing plant at the Lutonyi fish farm in kakamega
The plant to fully operate will need a total of 3-5 tones of fish per day a figure that has not been achieved momentarily.
(Read: Sh. 60 Million fish processing plant commissioned
He urged farmers from the region to also venture in fish farming and to not only depend on growing of other crops like sugarcane, tea among others saying the completion of the plant will ensure will indeed be a benefit to many farmers with fish.
“As the County government start working not so long from now, we want to urge many farmers from the region to also embrace fish farming for more yields, we want also when someone talks of Kakamega county, he not only talks of cane but also fish, we should also strive to make Kakamega county a fish farming county,” said Mahaja.
“It will be a big shame to have a processing plant without fish to be processed,” he added.
The fish processing plant in indeed underway and according to the officer, The processing plant will be run by the farmers’ representatives from all the nine constituencies that include Butere, Lurambi ,Shinyalu,Ikolomani, Malava Mumias, Matungu, khwisero and Lugari. The firm will, however, benefit fish farmers in all the counties of Western.
The demand for fish has risen sharply yet the country’s production stands at only 150,000 metric tons for both the captured and cultured fish that are intended to boost supply of fish. This has disillusioned consumers of the delicacy.
Kenyans consume on 4.6 kilograms per person when the world over just one person consumes 60 kilograms.”
The most reared species of fish in the western region is the Tilapia, 97% of farmers have it in their ponds.
A Kenyan consumes only 4kgs of fish per year when he should at least consume at least 25kgs annually.
The main challenges facing the farming include perishability, exploitation by middlemen, lack of proper marketing channels, poor access to farms, farmers lack marketing skills, lack of coordinated marketing groups among others.
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