Fish farming is a high potential enterprise in Kakamega County due to the favourable environmental and climatic conditions.
The region is well known for agricultural activities including growing sugarcane as a cash crop while maize and beans are produced mainly for subsistence.
Aquaculture took shape in the county in the year 2009 when the national government came up with the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) aimed at jump-starting the economy after the recess occasioned by the 2007-2008 post-election violence.
Under the programme, the government constructed ponds and provided the initial stock of the fingerlings to selected beneficiaries.
Kakamega Deputy Governor (DG) Prof. Philip Kutima, who is also the County Executive for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperative development, says they are encouraging residents to embrace fish farming.
Prof. Kutima said this financial year the allocation for fisheries development has been scaled up to Sh. 90 million from Sh. 10 million last year.
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.
The DG said part of the money would be used to establish a smart fish farm in Khwisero Sub County to act as a model for the farmers.
“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 marsh lands that would otherwise be wastelands.
The deputy county head at the same time encouraged the locals to consume more fish so as 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 so as 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 so as to cut back on the cost of production for fish.
By Sammy Mwibanda