The National Government has trained 91 extension officers from 15 counties of Western, Nyanza and Central regions, through the Aquaculture Business Development Programme (ABDP), to support production and commercialization of fish.
While closing the Training of Trainers (TOTs) seminar at the Bukura Agricultural and Training College, Principal Secretary (PS), State Department of Blue Economy and Fisheries, Dr. Francis Owino, said the government is committed to addressing challenges facing the aquaculture sector especially on fingerlings and fish feeds.
He said they have made a proposal to extend the ABDP programme across the 47 counties as the government aims to invest in smallholder aquaculture farmers and other players in the value chain to generate employment and transform people’s lives.
“Since the inception of ABDP, the programme has invested heavily to direct support to beneficiaries through support with production units’ materials including pond liners, bird and predator nets which has supported implementing counties with operational budgets, vehicles, motorcycles to reach the smallholder aquaculture farmers with extension services,” he noted.
He said ABDP is developing a trainers’ manual for fish farmers’ business school which will provide a harmonized approach for training of fish farmers and other aquaculture value chain actors within the country.
“The Programme recognizes the need for adoption of practical aquaculture production technologies and innovations and is focusing on capacity building for both extension officers and smallholder farmers,” he added.
The National Deputy Programme Coordinator for ABDP, Dr. Isaac Wamalwa, said the extension officers will be able to extend the knowledge to farmers to move from just being producers to commercial ventures.
He said the government is also investing in strategic processing facilities in Migori, Kakamega, Nyeri and Meru counties to support fish farming culture.
“Apart from the strategic facilities that we are promoting to build business of aquaculture in the country, we also have independent aquaculture aggregators, these are people that are going to mediate between the farmers and the market,” he noted.
He also said the government is giving opportunities for the youth through, start and improve your business model, to be trained in terms of business skills and be supported with funds so that they can be able to engage into business along the value chain.
“ABDP is committed and we are confident that at the end of the programme our farmers will be thinking business and would have put a business structure for fish farming in place,” he pointed out.
In Kakamega, the International Fund for Agricultural Development(IFAD), has invested over Sh. 70Million through ABDP which has gone towards provision of 1103 predator bird nets kits, purchase of 476 PVC Liners, training of 26 staff and purchase of 11Kibo Motorcycles, vehicles among other empowerment activities.
Kakamega County Coordinator of ABDP, Norman Munala, said the programme is being implemented in 30 working areas.
By Moses Wekesa