Kirinyaga County gives pond liners, fingerlings to fish farmers

The Great Star Youth Group

Members of The Great Star Youth Group, Caroline Wambui and Benson Kagiu feeding fish. They are among  selected self-help groups in Kirinyaga which have benefited from fishpond liners, fingerlings and feeds to enable them undertake beneficial fish farming.

Photo credit: George Munene | Nation Media Group

The Kirinyaga County government has supported selected self-help groups with fishpond liners, fingerlings and feeds to enable them undertake beneficial fish farming.

Twenty community groups that were selected after applying for funding from the county government were given the inputs at the beginning of this month and they are expected to harvest their first produce after six months.

Governor Anne Waiguru has said that the fish farming project is one of the components of Wezesha Kirinyaga economic programme that has been supporting farmers to diversify on their agricultural activities in order to increase their revenue streams.

She said that the project was informed by the huge deficit of fish, which makes Kenya to import fish as lake fishing cannot sustain the demand. She pointed out that her administration will support the farmers for the first six months and, thereafter, the groups are supposed to sustain the projects after selling their initial produce. 

Alternative livelihoods

“Fish farming will provide alternative livelihoods and give direct support to women and youth who will be involved at various stages of the project value chain which include, cooking, selling and transportation of fish. Others will be employed at fish eateries which have now become very popular in the county”, said the governor while distributing pond liners to the farmers.

Governor Waiguru also urged Kirinyaga residents to embrace routine consumption of fish as a way of boosting their health as well as growing the county’s economy. She said that consumption of excess red meat has been attributed to high prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney diseases among the residents, noting that fish provides a good source of the recommended white meat.

Beneficiaries happy

Beneficiaries of the fish farming projects were upbeat about the project, saying they look forward to uplifting their standards of living through.

Caroline Wambui, a member of The Great Star Youth Group in Gichugu Constituency, said that the project will help them by first supplying the members with a nutritious source of protein and then with extra income from sale of the surplus fish. Her group was formed in 2019 and started with table banking, with the fish farming project now expected to boost their income.

Mr Benson Kagiu, another member of the group, thanked the county government for empowering the youth through such projects.

Kiamuruga Tissue Culture Bananas group in Kirinyaga Central is also a beneficiary of the project. The group’s Chairman Elijah Karari said the 25-member group was happy about the project and that they look forward to selling their first produce and expanding the project as a way of empowering members economically. He said that fish farming, compared to other farming activities, is less time consuming and production costs are manageable. He thanked Governor Waiguru for the support which he said will go a long way in uplifting the living standards of the farmers who have embraced the fish project.

The county government has been supporting farmers to exploit the favourable climatic conditions to increase fish production over the past two years.

During the National Aquaculture Annual Stakeholders Review meeting held earlier in the year, the Kirinyaga County government emerged among the top five counties in implementation of the Aquaculture Business Development Programme.

Half of all the fish produced in Kenya comes from aquaculture while the other half comes from ocean and lake fishing.

Favourable aquaculture conditions

Ms Waiguru said that her vision is to see Kirinyaga get a fair share of fishing potential given that it is endowed with favourable aquaculture conditions which include fresh water and ready market.

The county government is working to increase annual fish production from the current 29.4 tonnes, valued at 12.8 million, to 62 tonnes, which will fetch the farmers around Sh30 million per year.

Other projects that the county government is supporting under the Wezesha Kirinyaga programme are poultry, dairy, avocado and tomato value chains as well as pig rearing, bee keeping and value addition of traditional vegetables.