By Malachi Motano

The introduction of fish farming in Nyeri county has since seen locals result to eating fish, unlike before when it was regarded as a delicacy for Nyanza and Western regions.

Jackson Kanyingi (centre) was one of the fish farmers who started rearing fish in the county

William Kiama is a civic leader in Nyeri county, “I was surprised to find that I can establish life out of politics and still earn more through fish farming.This was when I ventured into fish farming or aquaculture in region.

Aquaculture has seen a high adoption rate since the Stimulus Economic Programme (ESP) was unveiled. The County for many years coffee growing had remained the dominant economic generator but the cash crop has since faced a new rival that has made the county assume the lead in Central Kenya —fish farming.

According to Kiama, then adoption has not only been on the rise, but the trend has overshadowed areas regarded as leaders in fish farming under the Programme.

Kiama, “Some farmers are earning up to Sh450,000 per acre of water surface in a season of six to eight months. Very few agricultural ventures can yield such high returns.”

Zephaniah Mumero is a fish trader in Nyeri, “Eating fish in Nyeri has become increasingly popular. I sell more than 400 kilos of fish a day and I want more people to rear fish in order to meet rising demand for the delicacy. Dwindling fish stocks from Lake Victoria has also favoured aquaculture across the country.

According to FoodTech Africa, fish catch from the lake decreased by 25 per cent last year, especially the wild catch of Nile perch and tilapia. This causes poverty among fishers along Victoria Lake and oversupply of fish equipment.

Therefore, most Fishermen are turning their boats into passenger transport vessels and are now targeting tourists interested in site seeing. They are tired of going on fishing expedition and returning with empty nets.

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However, since the high demand for animal protein in general and fish in particular is still on the rise, the supply gap for fish is being filled by imports of Chinese frozen filleted tilapia.

According to statistics from the Department of Fisheries presented at Karatina University during a fishery stakeholders’ workshop organised by the university, Nyeri has been reaping the fruits of the expanding market after it was declared the best county in fish farming— beating areas perceived as leading in production and consumption such as Kisumu and Homa Bay.

The measures taken by the county government mean more cash for fish farmers. In 2010, the government, through the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP), provided a total of Sh2 billion to help revitalise fish farming in the country.

The county directorate of Fisheries, previously marveled at the uptake rate at the time, saying the county had registered one of the highest adoption rates.

It had more than 60 per cent of the beneficiaries of ESP retaining the ponds funded by the government through the programme

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