Written by Leonard Wamalwa
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Children getting fish out of one of the ponds in Nabiswa village of Trans Nzoia County. [Photo | Leonard Wamalwa]
Fish farming has in the last three years improved a great deal in Rift Valley province with the number of fish farmers rising from 1500 at the start of the three years before the introduction of the government’s economic stimulus program –ESP and has since rose to 9400 farmers to date.
Rift Valley provincial fisheries officer George Onyango told reporters in a fish farmers workshop in Kitale that the practice is being embraced by many farmers who have developed interest hence overwhelming the new trend of farming in the region.
Onyango noted that in the last two decades fish farming in Rift Valley had not been doing well but shot up after the introduction of the ESP that facilitated the process at the initial stages that have since stabilized and are fully fledged in most parts.
“At the moment I would like to say that this program has been so beneficial and there is quite a high enthusiasm from farmers and we are overwhelmed at the moment,” said Onyango.
He noted that the ESP program did not only impact on farmers alone but it also impacted greatly in creation of jobs especially in the Kazi Kwa Vijana –KKV program whereby youths were employed to construct 9400 ponds leading to them being paid over Kshs 85 million.
Rift Valley Provincial Fisheries Officer George Onyango and the Trans Nzoia and West Pokot County fisheries officer Jamleck Njeru (R)as he addressed journalists at the workshop.
Accompanied by the fisheries officer in charge of Trans Nzoia and West Pokot counties Jamleck Njeru, Onyango noted that due to the fast growing practice of fish farming, the government is doing sensitization programs to farmers, capacity building through trainings and putting measures to avail the fish feed to the farmers.
“We realize that most of the farmers jump-started and didn’t know much about fish farming hence necessitating the trainings and other sensitization programs on fish farming,” noted Onyango.
The officers revealed that the government has moved in to procure four peletizing machines fairly distributed in the region with one situated in Trans Nzoia to produce the fish feed.
Peletizing machines were bought as a form of cottage industries to be given to clusters within the region to manufacture their own fish feeds locally at a cheaper cost with the available materials.
The four machines are in Saboti, Naivasha in Subukia, Ainamoi in Kericho and another one in Eldoret with each purchased at Kshs 800,000 with a start up fund of Kshs 100,000 accompanying them.
The government is also putting in place measures to put up fish processing machines in every county across the country to facilitate the buying of the fish harvested by farmers in the respective regions and process its products.
Njeru pointed out that the putting up of the processing machines will also go in tandem with the number of farmers and the amount of fish produced in a region to necessitate the essence and time to start up the machine though the minimum production requirement is not yet revealed.
Production of fish in the region
In the last one year that ends in this month of June a total of 604,000 kilograms of fish were produced in the region amounting to over Kshs 102 million entering the farmers’ pockets.
The practice is noted to be receiving favor from most of the farmers both from the large and small scale due to the small amount of land used to put up the ponds and the high profits at the end of the harvest as compared to other crops including maize in a similar piece of land.
Trans Nzoia and West Pokot fisheries officer Njeru noted that in a 20 by 15 meter piece of land converted in fish farming can earn a farmer between Kshs 30,000 to 50,000 as compared to maize that can earn less than Kshs 300 hence farmers are quickly embracing the fish farming.
“If a piece of land measuring 15 by 20 meters can give a farmer between Kshs 30,000 and 50,000 as compared to maize that can only give about Kshs 300 and thus the farmers have seen for themselves and are entering the practice in large numbers,” said Njeru.
Declining production of fish at the lakes
It was noted that the government is supporting fish farming as a way of alleviating the declining production of fish from the lakes that have been for a long time the only major source of fish in the country.
The officers revealed that the lakes have reduced in production of fish due to pollution and over-exploitation hence failing to meet the ever increasing demand for the products that necessitate enhancing of fish farming.
The fast growing fish farming is believed to be the only remedy to the situation at the lakes and thus maintain the supply that can meet the market demands.
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