Paul Murage Wachiuri, a fish breeder at Mtwapa in Kilifi County has ventured into beauty fish farming, a practice that is unpopular among farmers in Kenya targeting party events to grow his income.
The idea dawned on Morage four years ago when his sister had a wedding and had asked him for some beauty fishes as part of the event decoration. On realizing that guests loved the idea, he decided to invest in the rare venture to tap into the niche market.
“Since then I have directed my effort towards the production of the beauty fish and marketing via social media, friends and relatives to reach event owners and organisers who hire the fish at a fee depending on the event duration, the number of the fish needed, and the event location,” said Murage.
In order to provide a full package, he has also purchased transparent 1.5 liters capacity glass bowls in which the fish which are of different colours are placed for display.
He says that at the beginning people were skeptical about buying the idea but after witnessing how the fish colours the events’ dining tables among other places, orders have increased quite significantly over the years.
“I offer the services countrywide with most of my clients in Nairobi. I am sometimes forced to buy more bowls depending on clients’ preferences especially those holding holiday parties who are the majority,” said Murage.
The aquatic farmer now targets holidays such as those of December and New Year to get more customers and grow the venture which is now six years old. His prices are flexible and open for negotiation depending on the type of event or party and the number of the fish a client orders.
Kenyan ornamental fish industry is a fast-growing ornamental industry in Africa. It includes locally wild-caught marine species and captive-bred freshwater species, according to research by Mary A. Opiyo and other experts on the Overview of Ornamental Fish Production in Kenya for Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI).
Presently, the industry contributes to the economy of the country by generating income through export earning, creating employment and enhancing the livelihood of the fisher community and fish farmers. The marine ornamental fish industry in Kenya has an annual collection of approximately 300,000 pieces of fish of different species.
In addition, the research indicated that the demand of ornamental or beauty fish presents a considerable challenge to conservation and management of the aquarium industry in Kenya as a result of unsustainable fishing practices that targets juvenile fish making them vulnerable to depletion.
Murage has since started his farm called Pwani Fish Farm and Hatchery which sits within half an acre piece of land in Mtwapa where he also raises fingerlings that he sells to other farmers.
The hatchery itself which has also been existence for six years has a capacity of 100,000 fingerlings though he produces depending on orders.
Murage can be reached on +254 737864911