By Rushdie Oudia | Updated Monday, November 2nd 2015 at 00:00 GMT +3
Only 10 per cent of farmers in the lake basin region are involved in fish farming despite the high demand for the delicacy and the good returns it fetches.
A new study shows the poor uptake of fish farming was occasioned by low water quality, predators and poor feeds. The study dubbed ‘Lake Victoria Environmental Programme II (LVEMP II) Community Driven Development sub-projects Watch Number Two’ revealed that few interventions to promote fish farming in the region have been employed. The study by East Africa Sustainability Watch Network (EASusWatch) found that despite the good market price, many people are not keen on fish farming. It revealed that aquaculture showed mixed results in middle Nyando, recording a drop from 10.1 per cent to five, while in lower Nyando it increased from 9.2 per cent to 26.9, then dropped to 18.3. Farmer Walter Okinda who is the co-ordinator of Nyakach-based Kamuga Youth Group said predators were hurting the fish farming.
Mr Okinda said the group had bought 7,000 fingerlings at a cost of Sh7 each, which were distributed in four ponds.
“We managed to harvest only 5,480 fish with a major challenge being predator control measures that we did not take,” he said.
Some of the predators that fed on the fish included birds, snakes and monitor lizard, which could easily access the ponds as there were no barriers preventing them from entering the ponds. They are now planning to use nets to cover the ponds and to strengthen the barbed wire fence using wire mesh to prevent monitor lizards from getting into the ponds. The report was released during an exchange programme between community development groups organised by the Sustainability Environment Development Watch (SusWatch Kenya).
The groups are currently implementing a variety of projects that include fish farming, tree planting and dairy farming. Apart from predator control measures, the group cited fish diseases, which killed fish.
“We did not know the right size to stock and this gave us challenges, especially when it came to fish growth,” said Okinda. High demand for fish, driven by local population growth, has led to overexploitation of fish in Lake Victoria. Fish expert Joshua Were said many fish farmers are not aware of quality fish feeds. Farmers are advised to breed only a particular fish sex, preferably the male, for faster and uniform growth.