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This is what could be killing Kirinyaga’s catfish farming prospects

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A few months ago, fish farming was introduced in Kirinyaga
County as a profitable alternative to tea and coffee farming, which has for
almost a century been regarded the region’s commercially cultivated options.

With various non-governmental and state-run institutions spearheading
the campaign, a good number of farmers were convinced to dig up ponds in their
farms, which were then lined with polythene and fingerlings introduced.

Catfish was selected as the preferred breed because of its
fast-maturity and ability to adapt to various climatic conditions.

Most farmers had been informed that in under seven months,
they would be harvesting fish weighing at least 2Kgs each.

But this has turned out to be a pipe-dream for most farmers,
who have only managed to get a handful of mature fish from their ponds, after
putting in several hundred fingerlings.

Disappointed farmers

Mrs. Elizabeth Ng’ang’a is one of those whose hopes of a great
fish harvest were dashed after she only collected 15 malnourished catfish from
her 5x5m pond.

So, what could have led to the stunted growth of her fish
and deaths of many others?

Carol Awino of Jambo Fish Western Ltd, a company that promotes
catfish and Tilapia farming in Kenya, believes that the cold climatic
conditions of Kirinyaga, which sits next to Mount Kenya could have played a

“Most fish, catfish included, prefer warm temperatures.
Farmers in colder regions are advised to dig their ponds in green houses, because
then they have better control of the temperatures,” she told

Raphael Owaka, who runs the Furrow Fish Farm, adds that
improper diets could also have led to the losses.

Mrs. Ng’ang’a, for instance, used to give her fish chicken
feed, which she says was readily available and “looked the same as commercial
fish food”.

“Proper fish feeds and feeding times need to be observed,”
said Owaka.

The dry food selected should be well suited to
the fish species, hence the need to consult professionals before purchasing. With
time, the feed can be supplemented with insects and vegetables.

to seek advice from

Ralphael Owaka Were Furrow
Fish Farm Tilapia Grow out and Catfish Hatchery, Sondu, 0726023519,  [email protected] 

-Or –

Jambo Fish Western Ltd., Off Mumias-Bumala Rd on Ogalo-Indangalasia
Rd, at Eshirumbwe, 0703698699,
[email protected]

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