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    Fåsse pesse des poyes polet coûtchî codåné stindou hatrea

    By George Munene

    A study has shown that vaccination against Newcastle disease in chickens increases flock size and egg hatch rate leading to a 24 per cent increase in consumption of high protein foods and improved child growth.

    The research conducted over 18-months in rural Kenya showed that children from Newcastle vaccinated households had a 1.16 per cent increase in height--the critical metric for assessing childhood stunting. They also had a 0.54 per cent increase in weight compared to those from non-vaccinated homes. 

    Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study was conducted in over 500 households that owned chickens assessing the diet and growth parameters of over 700 children. It compared diets, heights, and weights of children from households that used the vaccine and parasite control drugs in their flocks to households that only used parasite control.

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    "We had noticed families who fed their children high-protein foods had better outcomes in terms of preventing stunted growth in children, and we wanted to look for ways to improve growth given the resources they already had," said researcher Dr. Elkanah Otiang, who led the studies as a Washington State University and University of Nairobi graduate student in his home nation under the Kenyan Medical Research Institute--Centre for Global Health Research in western Kenya. 

    The study showed that a low-cost readily available intervention--Newcastle vaccines cost Sh1000-500 and are administered in drinking water to the whole flock--can translate to a marked improvement in childhood growth.

    Related News: Christmas melon extract cures deadly poultry Newcastle disease, cut farmers’ production costs

    This gives Kenyans an opportunity to improve the health of children and animals using existing resources without major lifestyle changes or financial burdens.


    Otiang, E., et al. (2022) Vaccination of household chickens results in a shift in young children's diet and improves child growth in rural Kenya. PNAS.

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    By Munene George

    “It is difficult to make a business case for feeding fish on home-made meals as they only utilise about five per cent of the feed, while the rest is wasted,” said Audrey Nyambura, Skretting East Africa’s Regional Technical Manager.Speaking during a seminar on fish feed management held by Foodtech Africa Aquaculture Academy she helped outline how tilapia farmers can best feed their fish to achieve peak growth performance.

    Fry Feeding

    From birth, tilapia fry/young require a high protein diet, i.e, up to 50 per cent, for 21 days after birth.

    Tilapia weight increases from 0.02 to 25 grams (1000X) from hatch to juvenile/ fingerling stage. They are extremely vulnerable at this level and need dedicated starter feed to sustain this growth. 

    Getting your feeding right at the starter level ensures good performance for the rest of the production cycle. They will be able to withstand poor water quality and fluctuating temperatures, as well as have strong immunity. 

    On average, tilapia should be fed on 42-21 per cent of their body weight at the first week of birth. 21-10 per cent in the second week and 10-9 per cent in week three. 

    By this time they will have attained at least 0.35 grams and are fed 9-8 per cent body weight until they are 2.5 grams. Between 2.5 grams and 10 grams, they are fed on 8-7 per cent of their body weight. 

    Before they graduate to growers (10-25 grams) they are fed on 7-6 per cent body weight.

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    It is recommended that a farmer feed his fish at the fry level to satiation (until full) because the rate of feed conversion at this level is at its highest

    The feed amount should also be adapted to eating behaviour and the fry can be fed up to 12 times a day.

    You should avoid:

    1. Relying on natural food
    2. Feeding starter feeds for other fish species
    3. Crush and use grower feed (low in protein)

    Fry feed should have:

    1. Uniform crumble size 
    2. Water stability
    3. Slow sinking properties --give all fry an equal feeding opportunity (faster bigger fingerling swim up to the surface to feed while the smaller less-mature fish feed on the sinking crumble)


    Grower Feeding

    After this, they are at the grower level/ fingerling stage and their protein requirement reduces to 35-30 per cent. As tilapia fish grow they are able to digest more carbohydrates in their diet.

    Grower feed is optimised for fish between 25 to 1000 grams.

    At the grower stage (≥25g), tilapia is fed on 5.5-5 per cent of body weight until they attain 60 grams; 5 to 3.7 per cent of their weight to 200 grams, and 3.7-1.6 grams until they hit 750 grams.  

    Algae in ponds can partially substitute commercial protein sources.

    In grow-out units, fish need to be fed two to three times a day for at least 30 minutes depending on the size of the housing unit This enables feeding of the fish across various levels of growth.

    Daily feed for every pond should be recorded with the ratio of feed conversion being noted.

    Breeder Feeding

    Broodstock diet --often overlooked by most farmers --- determines the quality of future fry. Females need high protein and high-fat diets to produce nutrient-rich eggs which should look bright and vibrant. 

    “These fats are expended during breeding; most people who have dealt with broodstock will notice that they do not eat for days as they incubate their eggs in their mouth,” explained Audrey.

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    Tilapia are continuous spawners, which means they have a high protein and energy turnover rate. 

    Kenya imports up to 7,000 tonnes of aquafeed annually, with fish farmers pointing out that local feeds are often ineffective and uneconomical.

    Tilapia accounts for about 80 percent of Kenya's fish production and has a fingerling demand of about 100 million per year

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    Maize grain

    By George Munene

    According to Kenya’s United Grain Miller’s Association, the country has run out of maize, while existing wheat stocks are expected to last until September.

    The price of a 90kg bag of maize has jumped 50 per cent from Sh2,800 at the start of the year to Sh4,200. A two-kilogram packet now retails for a historic Sh150.

    Kenya typically relies on her neighbours to meet its maize demand. However, it will be forced to look further ashore as Uganda and Tanzania both also experience depressed production.

    “We are going to run out of maize in the next few months and to control the rising cost of flour, we need to import the produce,” said Agriculture Cabinet secretary Peter Munya. 


    Related News: Maize shortage & new taxes predicted to drive up feed cost


    He also partly attributed the acute shortage to farmers and brokers hoarding grain.



    Consumption of wheat food products has overtaken maize across the country. Wheat is also the second-largest grown cereal crop after maize.

    Kenya imports more than 60 per cent (550,000 T/year) of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine. This has been made impossible to access by the ongoing conflict between the neighbours.

    With this in mind, the government had looked to tap the world's second-largest wheat exporter, India, to bolster its reserves and contain prices which have risen by 40 per cent this year.

    This move now looks out of the question following India’s announcement last week of a ban on wheat exports to curb soaring domestic prices.

    The Cereal Millers Association of Kenya points out that both the country’s purchasing power and wheat milling capacity have diminished due to these high prices.


    Related News: Russia's invasion of Ukraine to push fertiliser & food prices even higher

    Related News: Maize production to stagnate as fertiliser prices rise & farmers find lucrative alternatives —USDA report


    With the global price of wheat up 5.9 per cent just this week, other countries are expected to take similar protectionist measures. 

    Dry weather conditions and heatwaves across most parts of the world have resulted in poor harvests.

    According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture program (FAO) the war in Eastern Europe is worsening an already existing food crisis in Africa. Before the war started in February, the cost of food staples had risen 23 per cent last year, faster than any year in the last 10.

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