Prisons officer helps farmers set up integrated backyard fishponds

A Kenya Prisons Service officer is helping farmers set up quality integrated backyard fish ponds for high yields at reduced production costs due to recycling of rabbits and chickens wastes into food for fish.

Jared Mokaya, who is attached to Nakuru Prison Service station, has been helping farmers constructing the ponds in Kakamga and Nakuru counties. 

At the Nakuru Show Ground, the prisons service harvested 50 fish in March, 2016, which were more than half a kilogramme each.

“Many people staying in urban areas and other regions where land is scarce can utilise rain water and the small plots they have bought to generate income. Raising 100 fingerlings to maturity in six months even where there is no constant water flow requires almost nothing after installation,” he said.

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The common integrated fish ponds he has been contracting for farmers are 6m by 5m in length and width, with a depth of one metre.

A farmer needs to assemble all the required materials before inviting Mokaya. The materials include a pond polythene lining, timber, nails, a wire mesh, planting bags with soil, among others.

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“It takes at most two days to complete the work if the farmer has already dug out the pond and the assistants are sufficient. If the farmer takes care of my bus fare, it costs less than Sh5,000 in supervising, the work,” the officer said.

At the same time, the officer supports farmers in sourcing the best quality fingerlings from renowned hatcheries.

“Fingerlings are introduced to the pond two weeks after the construction. By this time, the chicken and rabbits could have added enough manure into the water for growth of the phytoplankton, which is food for the fish,” Mokaya, who holds a diploma in aquaculture management said.

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Water is only added into the pond when the level reduces. Five to six litres can be scooped for the vegetables grown on top of the hutch.

Excrement from the fish also supports the growth of more microbes in the water. High number of planktons and other microbes recycle the waste to non-toxic levels.

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Integrated fish farming involves recycling of one organism’s excrement into food for another. In this case, the 100 fish can be supported by droppings from four chickens, two rabbits, and 12-15 kales.

The rabbit urine dropping into the water is fetched and used in irrigating the vegetables, which are on top of the hutch. The chicken’s droppings into the water support the growth of algae (phytoplankton).

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Apart from the algae being food to the fish, these micro-organisms release more 95 per cent of their waste in form of oxygen into the water for the fish’s respiration. 

PHOTO: Kenya Prisons Service officer Jared Mokaya inspecting the service’s demonstration integrated backyard fishpond in Nakuru on July 8, 2016. The officer is helping farmers set up similar fishponds at their backyards. PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.

Mokaya can be reached on +254775702877 or +254724469499