Youth groups and women in Kisumu have started aquaculture farming that has already generated Sh.7 million.
The aquaculture programme that has been running since 2016 has greatly reduced fishing pressure on Lake Victoria and won majority of the young fishermen and women to trade in their illegal fishing gear to adopt the new technology.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), Prof. James Njiru disclosed in Kisumu that they have experts in Aquaculture, Agriculture, and Monitoring and Evaluation of the authorized fishing techniques.
Prof. Njiru said KMFRI was keen to contribute to the president’s Big 4 Agenda which spells out Food Security and Nutrition as one of its pillars and as an institution they will be able to uplift the living standards of local communities.
“The initiative will help create jobs for the youth and women,” he said, arguing that the white collar employment opportunities were dwindling by the day and so they should take the bold step to becoming their own employers while creating avenues for their colleagues.
He said the Aquaculture programme will end in 2020 and so through the partnership of World Vision and KMFRI have ensured quality and sustainability through seeking funding and continuous support to the beneficiaries including fingerlings, equipment and skills development.
“We started off by supporting fish farming activities in Homa Bay where we provided the necessary infrastructure while KMFRI brought in the technical capacity and equipment. There was no financial implication although each of the two partners have spent minimal amounts to kick-start the programme,” explained Prof. Njiru and Joseph Tinkoi the World Vision Regional Manager.
The CEO said research studies conducted have demonstrated that the fast receding population of Silver cyprinid or Anchovies (dagaa/Omena) and tilapia fish species have declined tremendously through capture fisheries in the Lake region.
“Per capita consumption of fish and catch have declined to the extent that getting 5 Kilograms of the preferred delicacy was a great challenge but the implementer of the programme hopes to reverse the trend through Aquaculture,” he explained.
Following the introduction of the Aquaculture, traditional fisher folk have started abandoning old ways of fishing and illegal gears having moved on to sell off the illegal gears to embrace the modern fishing technology.
Aquaculture is the in thing after cage fishing which began as a solution to the plummeting fish populations in Lake Victoria, but the growing popularity of cage fish farming have posed unique environmental problems in the shared water mass.
Tinkoi stated that World Vision intervention was in terms of developing the infrastructure for the fish ponds to farmers operating outside Lake Victoria with support from the government of Germany. World Vision has targeted 900 households who have fully ventured into fish farming in the newly built fish ponds, he revealed.
“These groups have developed hatcheries where they raised fingerlings apart from producing their own fish feeds. It was in the last harvest, a couple of months ago when the farmers earned the Sh.7million which tremendously transformed their economic status,” he disclosed.
Tinko i was explicit that the initiative focused on doing fish ponds outside Lake Victoria as opposed to the more devastating fish caging whose effects have greatly affected the amount of fish on Lake Victoria and the environmental destruction associated with it.
The practice of cage fishing could be harming the lake’s ecosystem due to lack of guidelines to regulate it. It entails installing steel cages inside the lake, which are suspended by floats. Feed is provided to the trapped fish, which are constantly monitored. They are supposed to be harvested when mature but this has not been so.
Realization of harmful effects have prompted concerned authorities to come up with guidelines, whose formulation is now in the final stages. The process is spearheaded by the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO), which coordinates fishing activities in the riparian countries.
Dr. Chris Aura, Assistant Director of Freshwater Systems Research at the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), Kisumu Centre stated that, “this could negatively impact other forms of aquatic life, including various fish species.”
By Joseph Ouma/Otieno Dorothy