Expensive feeds and lack of quality fingerlings have been identified as major obstacles hindering fish farming in the country.
Managing Director of Unga Group Limited Mr. Nick Hutchison has said many farmers have been unable to afford quality feeds to boost their fish farming enterprises.
He underscored the value of fish farming saying it can boost food security in the country but regretted that without affordable feeds farmers opt to abandon the economic activity and venture in other activities which realise less returns.
Hutchison cited numerous taxes imposed on food production as one of the reasons for expensive feeds and noted in that neighbouring countries animal and fish feeds are cheaper compared to Kenya.
The flour miller MD was speaking at Sagana Fisheries on Friday when his company launched a new feed product for catfish.
He said the government should work on removing non-tariff barriers on the food production chain so as to help farmers increase yields and get better returns.
The director noted that companies majoring in production of animal, fish and poultry feeds are forced to source for raw materials from other countries as the locally available materials are very expensive.
“Some of the crop proteins are being sourced out of the country and this also is contributing to high prices of feeds especially those for fish,” he added.
He said the country can allow production of GMO foods which can lead to lowering of food costs saying Kenya has several technical bodies which can control production of the genetically modified crops.
The country especially central region, Hutchison added has a big potential to produce high quantity of fish which can go a long way in filling the gap of fish shortage in the country.
“With enough support to farmers especially from the central region, the country will produce enough fish and there will be no need to import fish from other countries,” said Hutchinson.
Most of the fish consumed in central Kenya is sourced from Lake Victoria and Tanzania, something which has occasioned high prices of fish.
Unga Group Limited in partnership with Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) has come up with new feeds to boost production of catfish in the country.
Head of KMFRI Centre in Sagana Dr. Domitilla Kyule said the new feed will boost growth of catfish which does well in central region.
She noted that they have done crossbreeding of catfish from the country with others from Holland and Indonesia to come up with a better breed which matures within a short period.
“We now have generation 3 of catfish variety which we recommend to farmers as the variety matures fast into a big size,” she noted.
Dr Kyule said they will continue engaging farmers and providing them with technical knowhow to boost fishing in the region.
“We cannot rely on fish from lakes and oceans as this is coming to extinct. The way to go is to support aquaculture and enable farmers produce fish in their farms,” she said.
She added that with catfish, farmers can reap alot as the fish can be used to make sausages, samosa, burgers or any other product which is made of beef or pork.
Dr Kyule said fish farming is the way to go because it is the only option remaining that is sustainable which can be replenished and produce enough fish for the country.
Consumption of fish in the country, Kyule said is still low compared to other countries citing high prices of fish.
By Bernard Munyao