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Drought threatens multi-million fish farming program in Migori County

The effects of the ongoing drought are sending a chill among fish farmers in Migori County as key water sources in the region have now almost gone dry.

          Most of the fish ponds initiated in 2011 through the Sh33 m boost from the Government under the Economic Stimulus Program (ESP) in line with Economic Recovery and Poverty Alleviation under the Vision 2030 are consequently facing serious water supply challenge thus threatening the lives of fish stock as helpless farmers watch.

          Migori County Fisheries officials say the biting drought caused heavy losses to farmers after their fish died in ponds for lack of water.

          “Following this, many farmers are now contemplating shifting their efforts to alternative farming activities that are resistant to harsh climatic conditions,” said the Muhuru Bay head of fisheries Mr. Jacob Otieno.

          The official cited Nyatike sub-county as the worst affected with almost all the existing ponds being left unattended after all the fish died when to ponds dried.

          Majority of farmers incorporated in the ESP project eight years ago and some other private ones have so far suspended operations reluctantly waiting to re-initiate fish farming during the onset of the long rains expected to start in March if the government sponsors them again.

          Mr. Paul Midemo who spoke to KNA at Aneko area of Nyatike said he was contemplating completely abandoning fish farming after losing his stock worth over Sh 0.5 million following to the drought.

          The slump in fish production from local ponds coupled with severe shrinking of fish production from Lake Victoria has led to a huge income loss of about Sh100 million to the locals in the past two months alone.

          According to the fisheries officials in the region, there are fears of a drastic reduction in fish export from Migori in the next five months if the water sources’ condition does not improve soon.

          “The availability of water is crucial to the growing of tens of tons of fish stock in ponds to augment the production from the lake,” said Mr. Midemo.

By George Agimba

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