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Kenya increasingly reliant on fish pond farmers as wild catch tumbles

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pond fish farmersFish pro­duc­tion in Kenya has for long been heav­ily re­li­ant on wild fish in Lake Vic­toria which ac­counts for 76 per cent of fish pro­duc­tion in the coun­try but stocks, par­tic­u­larly of tilapia are dwind­ling set­ting stage for a po­ten­tial mar­ket for fish pond farm­ers to bridge the bit­ing short­age.

Ac­cord­ing to a 2016-2019 re­port by Farm Africa under Kenya Mar­ket-led Aquacul­ture Pro­gramme (KMAP), de­mand for fish in Kenya is in­creas­ing rap­idly due to pop­u­la­tion growth, rising in­comes and in­creased aware­ness about the nu­tri­tional be­ne­fits of fish.

However, there is a need for boost­ing fish pro­duc­tion in ponds to help pro­tect Lake Vic­toria’s strained re­sources, offer the pop­u­la­tion a sus­tain­able source of fish and provide fish farm­ers with re­li­able in­comes.

Ex­perts as­sert that Kenya has a far greater ca­pa­city for fish farm­ing, with over 1.14 mil­lion hec­tares po­ten­tially avail­able to en­able a pro­duc­tion ca­pa­city of over 11 mil­lion tonnes per year.

In ad­di­tion, to pro­mote fish farm­ing, the gov­ern­ment of Kenya between 2009 and 2012 built an es­tim­ated 48,000 fish­ponds across the coun­try.

RE­LATED CON­TENT: Why fish pro­duc­tion is de­clin­ing in Kenya

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RE­LATED CON­TENT: Li­quid Tele­com Kenya’s IoT net­work en­ables fish farm­ers to mon­itor ponds and in­crease pro­duc­tion

Ac­cord­ing to KMAP re­port, ac­cess to high-qual­ity, af­ford­able in­puts like fish feeds and fin­ger­lings can boost fish yields by up to 100 per cent, and is key to en­abling fish farm­ers to grow their busi­nesses.

Last year, Kenya’s Vic­tory Farms, a fish pro­duc­tion firm based in Kisumu, an­nounced plans to con­struct a 10,000 met­ric tonnes tilapia hatch­ery to in­crease the fish pro­duc­tion and boost food se­cur­ity.

This is after some farm­ers were re­portedly still using fish stocks which are ge­net­ic­ally sim­ilar or in­ferior to wild or un­do­mestic­ated stocks due to un­avail­ab­il­ity of qual­ity seed.

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