With 400,000 fingerlings, farmer scales the heights in fish farming
Seeing the structure, one may not understand why Alfred Kiboi, the owner of the farm, has named it a fish farm yet it appears he grows crops in the greenhouses.
“I started with five wooden greenhouses where I was growing tomatoes, bell peppers and eggplants but after four years, I dropped the project after failing to find someone with the technical know-how to manage crops in the structures,” he says, noting that he has invested a good amount of money in the business.
He then developed interest in fish farming and made a small pond where he put in fingerlings obtained from the river.
After six months, the fingerlings were still small, weighing an average of 130g, he recalls.
“I travelled to Tororo, Uganda, to visit farmers who had hatcheries. I invited one of the farmers who later travelled to Kenya and he helped me establish fish ponds,” he says.
In Uganda, he says, fish farming is vibrant, with a place like Tororo having over 20 hatcheries. “Their government has also put more emphasis on fish farming. I learnt lessons on how to utilise greenhouses to keep fish, manage a large-scale farm and utilise water properly.”
During the visit, the Seeds of Gold team finds Kiboi in a white dustcoat feeding the fish with his workers. He throws some food into the water and a school of fish suddenly scrambles for it before diving back into the water.
“I sell the fish fresh, that’s why I put them in water, and this is why customers keep coming back because they buy what is still live,” he says, noting the 10kg fish goes for Sh4,000.
“We go through all the ponds every day to check fingerlings before we start the feeding process at 10am. After that we remove eggs and fingerlings from the hatchery then do sorting and grading,” explains Ms Chepkorir.
“We then reduce the protein content to 40 per cent, then to 28 per cent until the fish matures. This enables us obtain healthy fish weighing 250g,” he points out, adding that he sells a kilo of fish at Sh300.
Kiboi is one of the three farmers in Kenya whose fish farms have been selected for the introduction of the pond recirculation technology to improve production. The other two are in Central and Nyanza.
The Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation project is sponsored by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank and is also being implemented in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Ghana and Zambia.
Trans Nzoia county director of fisheries Jamlek Njeru says there is great improvement in fish farming in the region because of availability of a good market but most farmers lack training and funds to expand their business.