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Fish farmers earn KES 3.7 M

25 March 2013, 12:32 Mwangi Karanja

More than 900 farmers in Trans Nzoia County who benefited from the government stimulus fund earned KES 3.7 million last year from fish sales.

The County fisheries director Jamlick Njeru Mutegi has said that the ministry of fisheries initiated the program that saw more than 1 000 fish ponds constructed in the county.

Under the plan, Njeru added, the government sponsored farmers during the construction of the ponds, supply of fingerlings and fish feeds.

“The government constructed each pond at KES 25 000 with a 1 000 fingerlings per pond because we wanted to ensure that the county residents stop over-relying on maize farming,” he said.

He added, "From the data received, it is clear that lives of many residents have changed for the better and this has motivated many farmers as they are asking for assistance in order for them to venture into the lucrative business.”

He reiterated that the money earned was just a tip of the ice berg since many farmers resolved to sell the produce before it matured due to poverty.

“Because they (residents) want to get money, majority of them took fish that had not matured to the market making it hard for the ministry to get the exact figure; what we had was only KES 3.7 million. Nevertheless, we know it’s more.”

Njeru said that within an area of 20x15 square meter, a farmer might get a net profit of KES 50 000 after 8 months making it more profitable than maize farming as the county provide conducive environment for fish farming and the price of fish is good.

“The County topography is good. What's more? We have sources of water everywhere thus I urge more people who have capital to try their luck as the supply of fish has never satisfied the market demand,” he posed.

Lat year, the ministry had constructed fish ponds in more than 60 schools and supplying them with fingerlings and feeds which propelled the institutions' earning, providing laboratory specimen and also food for students within Trans Nzoia County.

The fisheries director also confirmed that more than 28 schools have asked the ministry to enjoin them in the initiative.

Njeru added that many challenges have been pulling behind their efforts, including lack of fingerlings' hatchery that would have lessened farmers' load of traveling to Kendu bay where they now source the quality fish seeds.

“It is a good opportunity for investors to come up and set fingerlings hatchery as it’s a bit expensive and many farmers are now careworn to restock their ponds as their only source is kilometers away,” noted Njeru.

He further pointed out that the government has established a feed-making industry at Baraton area in Kitale which supplies feeds to farmers around the area, saying they have given KES 50 000 for the upgrade of the facility.

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