A total of 66 farmers from Mukurwe-ini Sub County, Nyeri have benefited from a donation of equipment to help boost fish production in the area.
Speaking during the launch, State Department for Fisheries, Aquaculture and the Blue Economy PS Dr Francis Owino urged farmers from the area to indulge in fish farming as a way of providing food not only to their families but also for commercial purposes.
“The government wants to make sure that you have enough food for your family and also enough to sell,” said Dr Owino.
Dr Owino who helped in the handing over of 36 pond liners,30 cover nets and 30 predator nets said the government through the Aquaculture Business Development Program (ABDP) plans to enhance fish production to plug the national deficit which stands at 400,000 metric tonnes. Kenya annual fish production currently stands at 150,000 metric tonnes.
The government also gave out five motorcycles and laptops for use by extension officers to enable them in providing extension services to farmers within Mukurweini, Mathira East, Mathira West, Tetu and Kieni East sub counties.
The PS also said through the program, the government aims to attain one of the big four agenda, food security adding the sector was not only less demanding compared to other farming sectors but had quicker returns.
“The government through our President wants to fulfill the four agenda we had for our citizens. This fish farming program will help us in fulfilling the food and nutrition agenda. After putting the fingerlings in the pond and giving them food every morning, that’s all with the fish. The venture doesn’t need more of your time,” the PS stated.
Dr Owino stated that the natural way to have adequate fish in the lakes has been damaged by pollution and population among other factors and thus the only sure way to ensure more fish in the market was through aquaculture.
“Remember that as a country we have a fish deficit and I hope after 6 or 8 months you will help the government to reduce the deficit by producing more fish,” he added.
One of the beneficiaries Lucy Mwangi applauded the government for coming up with such an ideal program terming it a game changer in the area. “I am thankful to our government for coming up with this idea. This shows that the government is concerned about us. We will do our very best to get good results from this initiative,” she said.
Recently ABDP National Coordinator Mr Sammy Macharia while addressing more than 100 farmers drawn from 16 counties in Machakos said the government was working hard to ensure current deficit in fish production is addressed by tapping local production.
The training dubbed Fish for Health and Wealth has roped in various stakeholders including hatcheries, scientists and feed manufacturers. “We have low production of about 4.6 kg per capita fish consumption. This is very low compared to other countries and this program aims at promoting fish consumption to at least 10 kg of fish per person per year within the next three years,” he said.
Macharia said apart from the technological know-how, the program aims at creating linkages that would assist farmers improve production by providing crucial technical support such as providing pond liners to address the challenge of high evaporation rates in places with extraordinary temperature.
The program which is jointly funded by the Government of Kenya and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will also help in undertaking renovation works on individual fish farms.
The government is also training the farmers on best farming practices such as value addition to ensure the country joins other African countries exporting fresh fish to the European market in coming days.
Also present during yesterday’s event include Nyeri County Commissioner Mr Lyford Kibaara and local administrators.
By Samuel Maina and Ann Ngure