Even though fish farming in Siaya County has been attributed to cages in Yimbo, Sakwa and Rarieda, pond fishing is gaining ground.
The devolved government has launched free fish-feeding programmes for farmers with ponds to encourage aquaculture.
Many farmers with cages are counting huge losses following mysterious fish deaths in Lake Victoria.
Other sources of fish in Siaya are lakes Kanyaboli, Sare, Namboyo and Bob, and rivers Nzoia and Yala.
Lakes in Siaya produce about 30,000 tonnes of fish every year, earning farmers Sh4 billion.
The quantity has, however, been falling – a phenomenom blamed on global warming and the ever-rising number of fishermen in the region.
While distributing feed to pond farmers, Siaya Governor James Orengo challenged them to take advantage of the growing demand for fish and maximise production.
“Ponds are doing well in Central Kenya, meaning we can also produce fish in ponds. I want to go outside Siaya and find Ugunja pond fish there. The population that is resorting to consuming fish is growing by the day,” Governor Orengo said.
“Let us work together and ensure more production of fish.”
The county boss also challenged women and young people, especially in rural areas, to form groups in order to get support from his administration and other donors.
“If we organise ourselves in associations to produce fish in ponds, getting support will be easy. This is one area that has not been fully exploited. From what we have witnessed in other regions, it is of great benefit to communities,” he added.
According to a 2019 survey, at least 14,500 crews go fishing in Lake Victoria daily.
This has led to too many people chasing few fish in the lake, rendering the venture unprofitable.
“We are happy to receive the feeds. With subsidies, we can produce more fish from ponds compared to the lakes,” Johaness Omollo, a farmer from Ugenya, said.
Every pond farmer received three bags of fish feed.
Annual pond fish farming output in Siaya stands at 180 tonnes, translating to about Sh38 million.
“There are water resources all over Siaya. There is a window of opportunity to make aquaculture an anchor value-chain in our county,” Governor Orengo said.
“The challenges aquaculture faces include availability and access of quality inputs and feeds, limited technology, high predation and climate change factors. With development partners, we will work towards realising this venture.”
The cost of feeds and other inputs has discouraged many potential pond fish farmers.
The Siaya devolved government distributed 98.3 tonnes of feeds, 49.15 tonnes of starter mash and 49 tonnes of floating pellets all valued at Sh28,605,300.
“We have heard on radio and TV that many cage fish farmers are losing millions of shillings. Ponds are safe as they cannot be contaminated easily,” said Omollo who has two ponds in West Ugenya.
Mercy Akinyi 44, from Bondo, said the fishing community needs to rethink the business strategies.
“Kenya has less than 10 per cent of Lake Victoria. It pains us to see Kenyans being arrested daily for crossing to Uganda and Tanzania,” she said.