The County Government of Nyeri has started restocking fishponds in a move aimed at encouraging farmers to adopt fish farming as an economic activity as well as promote food and nutrition security.
Fish is considered as an ‘alien’ food in the County and so the exercise being carried out in conjunction with the Aquaculture Business Development Program (ABDP) will go a long way in changing this perception and encourage more people to adopt fish farming and consumption.
Fish farming was introduced in Nyeri and other parts of Central Region under the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) in 2010 and farmers saw a chance of supplementing their earnings from tea, coffee and dairy ventures.
However, the Sh300 million program collapsed a few years later with many farmers abandoning the venture after failing to register meaningful returns rendering many of the ponds muddy patches.
Lack of market was the leading cause of farmers abandoning the project with the County Government being accused of failing to create the right infrastructure for the trade to thrive.
However, in 2018, the County Government commenced rehabilitation of fishponds as well as restocking with some 226 ponds having been done to date.
The devolved unit is also in the process of operationalising Wamagana Fish Factory constructed at a cost of Sh60 million in 2011 for processing, storage and marketing.
County Executive Member (CEC) in charge of Agriculture, James Wachihi, said the department was committed towards promoting aqua farming and encouraged farmers to go back to the business with a promise that things will be better this time round.
Speaking during a restocking exercise of Lusoi and Kamangura Dams in Kieni Constituency led by County Secretary Ben Gachichio, the CEC said fish farming was set to greatly improve farmers’ earnings as well as boost food and nutrition security in the County.
He also encouraged farmers to not only focus on sales but also incorporate fish in their diet as it was packed with rich nutrients such as vitamins and proteins to boost their health.
Fish is known to contain nutrients that can lower blood pressure and help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Wachihi also urged the youth to focus on value addition of fish in order to increase its marketability.
By Samuel Waititu