Commercial fish farming boosts Kenyan farmers
17 October 2014, 17:18
Nairobi - After going through seven years of repeated low
maize and bean yields, John Kabiru, a farmer in Nakuru County, about 180
kilometres northwest of Nairobi, sought for a solution.
He solely depended on sale of the crops to take care of his family
but the losses were suppressing his efforts to gain economic freedom.
So in 2010, Kabiru took a 3,450 U.S. dollars loan from a Sacco and
invested in one fish pond. Since then, he has never looked back despite
the challenges of the effects of climate change.
In a year, he said he makes an average of 2,875 dollars from the sale
of the mature fish against the 437 dollars he used to make from the
maize and beans.
"I still grow maize and beans in my two acre piece of land and sell
the surplus to supplement my earnings. But my venture into commercial
fish farming was the best decision I ever made," Kabiru told Xinhua in
an interview on Thursday.
Kenya is among the countries in the world in which farmers are feeling the effects of climate change.
Erratic rainfall patterns coupled with unprecedented long droughts
are the manifestations of the variations in the climate taking away
favorable environment for higher yields. Soil fertility is also
declining in many farms across the country resulting to dwindled
The ministry of agriculture is engaged in extensive sensitization
drives enlightening farmers on the type of fertilizer to use to avoid
advancing the effects of increased acidity or lowered alkalinity on crop
While all these account to the overall crop, livestock and fisheries
performance in the East African country, farmers are advised to shift
from conventional monocropping to mixed farming.
This is intended to reduce risks attached to the total failure of the
single crop, death of livestock or fish causing extreme hunger in the
Kabiru is among the many farmers in Kenya who are taking seriously
the advice of the agricultural officers. With unpredictable weather
patterns, he said, a farmer cannot take chances in one crop farming
"In 2011, there was a heavy downpour which flooded my pond and killed
all the stocked 1,000 tilapia fingerlings. If I had put all my hopes in
the fish, I do not know how I could have paid school fees for my
children," he said.
In 2000, the ministry of agriculture, livestock and fisheries began a
countrywide campaign of encouraging farmers to embrace commercial fish
farming to boost household food security and agricultural earnings.
Mary Mukaru, an officer with the ministry of fisheries based in
Nakuru County, said farmers are increasingly diversifying into fish
farming to expand their avenues of generating income.
"Across the country, we have more and more farmers now setting up
fish ponds. Commercial fish farming is a lucrative venture which can
alleviate hunger and poverty in many households," she said.
Through various platforms including farmers' field days and
agricultural exhibitions, the ministry officers train farmers on how to
rear, harvest, process and market the fish. Mukaru said the demand for
fish has overtime grown due to transformation of Kenyan's eating habits.
Read also: Graduates ask govt to create job opportunities
While this exerts pressure on the marine sources of fish as fishermen
overharvest to meet the overstretched demand, encouraging farmers to
construct fish ponds is seen as a means of addressing the overdependence
In the East African nation, fishing activities are mainly done at the
Indian Ocean, Lake Victoria, Lake Baringo, Lake Turkana and Lake
While growing some crops may not be possible in the dry areas without
adequate water, Mukaru said fish farming can be done with liner ponds
which minimize loss of water through evaporation.
"Instead of farmers completely losing their livelihood when the crops
fail and livestock die due to drought, it is important that they expand
to fish farming which can do well in even dry areas," she said.
In a country where 46 percent of the youth population is unemployed,
commercial fish farming provides them with a productive opportunity for
self-employment as argued by the fisheries officer.
"We are working towards changing the attitude of the youth towards
agriculture because fish farming is one of the sub-sectors that they can
adequately explore and earn a good living," she said.
The government of Kenya has already instituted state funds accessible
to youths to start up income generating projects. They can form groups
and apply for Uwezo Fund or the Youth Enterprise Fund to necessitate
their plans of expanding their business ventures.
For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page!