Residents of Kisumu County today celebrated the annual aquaculture day at Mr. Tobias Onyango’s farm in Central Nyakach Ward – Nyakach Sub County.
The celebrations observed annually, every 20th May this year was pushed to the 26th May due to the 9th Africities Summit held in Kisumu City as from 17th to 21st May this year.
The event brought on board partners and fish farmers such as the fisheries Officers from the County Government of Kisumu and the State Department of Fisheries and Blue Economy, representatives from the Lake Basin Development Authority, the Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Agriculture Sector Development Support Program, and the Kenya Fisheries Services among other invited guests to share knowledge and skills and to show case innovations along the various nodes of aquaculture value chain.
This year’s theme, Embracing Aquaprenuership Aquaculture, promotes the adoption of viable opportunities along aquaculture value chain from production to value addition.
In the spirit of the slogan Kuza, Kula Uza Samaki translated as farm, eat and sell fish campaign, all are urged to embrace eating fish for the abundance health benefits thereby creating market for their own fish.
Mr. Tobias Onyango, the host was lauded for developing a model farm in his 2-acre parcel of land where he practices integrated farming.
Mr. Onyango, who is categorized as a level 1 farmer under the Aquaculture Business Development Program, has adopted and localized the recirculating aquaculture system in his farm. The project adheres to climate smart innovation as it mitigates the extreme climate change of dry spells experienced in Kisumu.
He pumps water into three fishponds using solar energy, the water from the fishpond outlets he uses to grow vegetables using the conical garden technology and for horticulture. The excess water seeps back from the soil and is channeled back for pumping into the fishponds.
Being cognizant of the importance of nutrition to his family, Mr. Onyango has set a side one of the three fishponds to feed his family while the other two are for income. Besides, he also earns income from the surplus vegetables and fruits he produces from his farm.
Speaker after Speaker noted with great concern the need for fish farmers to transform from relying on capture fisheries that is depleting and embrace the new fish farming technologies as an alternative to increase fish production in order to get income.
While reading the speech from the Principals Secretary Dr, Francis Owino, the Chief Guest Deputy County Commissioner Mr. Sylvester Munyasi, who represented the County Commissioner in the event, noted that today small holder farmers face shortages of productive land and the negative effects of climate change this has necessitated farmers to seek ways to adjust mixed farming systems to minimize risks and make optimum use of resources to earn a living.
He stated that aquaculture sub sector is growing in response to the declining capture fisheries hence increasing the demand for fish, which has occasioned fish imports to meet deficit though with serious quality concerns.
The Deputy County Commissioner further explained that there is a significant gap between the projected demand and the national production standing at 350,000MT annually this he said creates a continuous decline in per capita average consumption and rising prices of the commodity.
He reiterated the government’s effort to spur growth in aquaculture through the launch of a program dubbed Fish Farming Enterprise and Productivity Program under the Economic Stimulus Program (ESP) to promote smallholder aquaculture production. The ESP Achieved rapid expansion in productive infrastructure in the aquaculture sub sector.
In putting significant measures in place to ensure achievement of 100% food and nutrition which is part of the big four agenda. The ABDP being one of such initiative in its 3rd year is building on the achievements of defunct ESP, which aims to benefit 35,000 households.
The Chief Officer Agriculture and Irrigation department, Dr. Paul Omanga recalled previously how the people relied on capture fisheries, but due to steady increase in population, the lake waters have been contaminated resulting to depletion of fish and even some species becoming extinct.
He challenged the farmers to consider the value chain approach in order to grow to sell. He also urged them to think on production for export as he promised to support them in water harvesting that will enable them produce sustainably.
The Chief Officer Livestock and Fisheries Madam Rosemary Raluoch challenged the farmers to ensure they can satisfy fish requirements in their household every day, citing that the Vision 2030 advocates that for every household of five people, they should earn Ksh.1,000 every day to be meet their needs.
Madam Rosemary encouraged farmers to embrace technology in their farming to mitigate issues of climate change such as adoption of the in circular food system economy where water is harvested and used for production.
She also urged them to think business along the fish value chain by seeking information on best practices on the digital platforms, and keeping business records that will help them grow.
The Director Fisheries, Madam Susan Claire, reiterated how fish farming has grown along the value chains, being optimistic that with the presence of consultants and partners the sector will establish.
She stated that the county government has stocked 175 ponds, it has also collaborated with victory farm and stocked 100 ponds and ABDP stocked 15 ponds within the County. The ABDP she said is coming up with a model on cost sharing of inputs where they will pay 55% as the farmers pay 45%.
The Director however challenged the farmers to be aquaprenuers who do not rely only on support from partners but should take aquaculture as business by knowing the input they need, the expenses incurred and where they break even.
The ABDP Project Coordinator, Mr. Kenneth Luga on his part outlined the goal of the project is to increase income, food security and nutritional status of the wider communities of the poor household.
He stated that with increase of population, the demand for fish has increased which the lake cannot meet, so to meet the demand, ABDP aims at increasing the production of farmers producing below 100kg annually to 500kg.
The achievement of this he said will be through use of technology, improved quality feeds and fingerlings and improved pond management. He further stated that they seek to improve income and health not only through fish farming but also through integrated forms of farming such as kitchen gardening, and establishing ponds in schools where children can learn fish farming and encourage people to do the same at home.
By: Emily Mikwa