Meru farmers have turned to rearing fish in greenhouses in a move to beat the cold weather and enable the fish mature faster than ponds.
Fish reared in ponds mature four times faster due to the warm conditions than those in ponds hence ready for the market early.
Moses Muriuki, a farmer in South Imenti for instance had been rearing the fish in ponds for more than 10 years but discovered they took long to mature and hence he decided to put up a greenhouse last year that now houses over 5,000 fish.
“The fish in my greenhouse are four times bigger than those in the ponds yet they are of the same age,” said Muriuki.
The farmer is selling the fish at Sh300 per kilo and anticipates making over Sh2.5m if he find a ready market for the produce.
The quantity of fish from fish farming reduced from 15,000 metric tonnes in 2016 to 12.4 thousand metric tonnes in 2017. The decline was partly attributed to failure by farmers to re-stock fish ponds in 2017, citing high prices of fish inputs and drying up of ponds due to drought during the year under review according to the 2018 economic survey report.
The rearing of fish in ponds comes at a time when the fisheries sub-sector continues to register a decline in performance in recent years.
The total quantity of fish landed declined from 147.7 thousand tonnes in 2016 to 135.1 thousand tonnes in 2017.
In this, fish from fresh water sources dropped from 123.5 thousand tonnes in 2016 to 111.8 thousand tonnes in 2017, mainly attributed to decline in catches from Lake Victoria, Lake Turkana and fish farming.
Total output from marine sources recorded a decline of 3.7 per cent from 24.2 thousand tonnes in 2016 to 23.3 thousand tonnes with marine fish accounting for 88.5 per cent. Crustaceans and molluscs contributed only 3.0 and 8.5 per cent of marine sources, respectively, last year.
The total value of fish landed which has been on the decline for three consecutive years, dropped further from Sh24.5bn in 2016 to Sh23bn in 2017.
The value of fresh water fish dropped by 6.1 per cent from Sh19.8bn in 2016 to Sh18.6bn last year. Similarly, the value of fish from marine sources decreased from KSh 3.4 billion in 2016 to KSh 3.3 billion in 2017.