Group tests waters with cages in dams
Published Sat, May 12th 2018 at 00:00, Updated May 11th 2018 at 19:00 GMT +3
Cage fish farming is common with farmers bordering Lake Victoria. Universities in the lakeside region have been spearheading the project teaching farmers.
Cage aquaculture is a fish rearing system where fingerlings are put into metal or plastic cages — to protect them from predators — providing them artificial feed and harvesting them when mature.
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This trend has now been introduced in Central. After the Economic Stimulus Plan driven fish programme flopped, Nyeri County government embarked on cage fish farming in local dams.
The county is running a pilot project at Chinga dam where they support local youth groups to set up cages for fish farming. Chinga Fishing group are part of those selected to pilot an experimental cage fish farming project.
Stephen Kiragu, a member of the group, is hopeful the project will be successful.
“So far we have three cages which we assembled on the side of the dam with the assistance of county government officials,” Kiragu says.
The cages are made of plastic rails that hold nets and measure 15feet by 7feet and are 1 metre deep.
To enable the cages float on the dam, he explains that they are fitted with at least six empty 20-litre jerricans.
For anchoring the cages in one spot in the dam, each cage is fitted with plastic containers filled with ballast.
Using fishing boats, group members then placed the cages into the dam where they anchored them on one spot. The net cages are fitted with a small opening at the top which allows for the farmers to introduce fingerlings after which the opening is sealed.
“Right now each cage has 500 tilapia monosex fingerlings but has the capacity to hold 2,000 fingerlings,” he says.
For now, everything has been provided for by the county government but going forward, the group hopes to stand on their own.
To run the project, every day, two group members feed the fingerlings with at least 600 grams of feeds.
“Right now they are young and we feed them twice a day which is about 1.5kgs of feeds. We have 20 kgs of feeds and expect this will last at least 20 days,” Kiragu explains.
Another member, Joseph Mugechu, says as the tilapia mature, they will eventually require larger rations of feed per day.
“Tilapia take six months to mature and to get it right, we often consult the fisheries department on the rations,” Mugechu says.
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The dam has its own fish of tilapia and catfish which the group had been fishing for years and selling on the side of the road.
“It used to take between 8 to 10 hours to fish in the dam. Our catch was never guaranteed,” Mugechu says.
But with the cages, the group hopes for better yields which they intend to be delivering to Wamagana Fish Processing Factory.