Kakamega County government is determined to make aquaculture another frontier for socio-economic growth.
The County officials, led by the Industrialization and Trade Executive, Kassim Were, recently visited a successful fish farmer in Malava Sub County.
Laban Mwanzo, owns 34 fish ponds situated on a three and half acre piece of land and he is the largest producer of fingerlings in the county.
Were was accompanied by among others the Fish Factory investor, Samuel Ondiek on a fact-finding mission to establish the active fish farmers in the county in preparation for the operationalization of Kakamega Fish processing plant located in Kakamega town.
“We are impressed by the great work being done by our fish farmers as this will ensure the factory has adequate supply of fish once it starts operating,” he said after visiting the two fish farms at Ingavira and Malava town.
He stated that the county has 500 registered farmers and they are offering extension services and subsidized fish feeds to farmers.
“I encourage more farmers to embrace fish farming on a large scale to meet the market demand in our county both for commercial and subsistence purposes,” he said.
The county executive added that a minimum of 7,000 fish ponds are required so as to effectively serve the factory which is capable of processing five tonnes of fish per day.
He disclosed that the Kakamega County Microfinance Corporation will offer financial support to the farmers to enable them run their enterprises.
The factory investor said the raw materials will be supplied by Kakamega county locals and other Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) member counties.
Mwanzo, who is also the Chairman of Kakamega Fish Cooperative urged other fish farmers to join the entity for ease of marketing their produce.
The Deputy Governor, Prof. Philip Kutima says they intend to export fish products to the European Union market.
Prof. Kutima urged the residents to diversify their farming activities to have multiple sources of income.
He pointed out that there are 7, 845 farmers with 8, 336 fish ponds in the county and they intend to have more residents take up the venture.
“In partnership with other players, we are going to train the farmers on the best fish farming practices so as to enable them obtain optimal returns,” he said.
He said aquaculture is a worthy investment as it is utilizing the marshlands that would otherwise be wastelands.
The deputy county head at the same time, encouraged the locals to consume more fish to provide a market for the producers.
He said the dwindling fortunes from sugarcane which has for a long time been the economic mainstay of the residents, calls for diversification.
“Farmers should have several enterprises to have something to lean on in case one of them fails,” he advised adding that in the past five years the county government had prioritized maize, dairy and poultry value chains.
The farmers, he said, have to practice value addition in order to earn more from their enterprises.
He also instructed them to formulate the feeds on the farm to cut back on the cost of production for fish.
By Sammy Mwibanda