Twenty community groups that were selected after applying for funding from the County Government were given the inputs at the beginning of this month and they are expected to harvest their first produce after six months.
Governor Anne Waiguru said the fish farming project is one of the components of Wezesha Kirinyaga Economic program that has been supporting farmers to diversify on their agricultural activities in order to increase their revenue streams.
She said that the project was informed by the huge deficit of fish in the Country as we are unable to sustain the demand. She pointed out that the county government will support the farmers for the first six months and thereafter the groups are supposed to sustain the project after selling their initial produce.
“Fish farming will provide alternative livelihoods and give direct support to women and youth who will be involved at various stages of the project value chain which include, cooking, selling and transportation of fish. Others will be employed at fish eateries which have now become very popular in the county,” the governor said.
The Governor also urged the county residents to embrace routine consumption of fish as a way of boosting their health as well as growing the county’s economy. She said that consumption of excess red meat has been attributed to high prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney diseases among the county residents noting that fish provides a good source of the recommended white meat.
Beneficiaries of the fish farming projects are upbeat about the project and they look forward to uplifting their standards of living through the project.
Caroline Wambui, a group member of The Great Star Youth Group in Gichugu constituency said the project will help them by first supplying the members with a nutritious source of protein and then with extra income from sale of the surplus fish. Her group was formed in 2019 where members have been carrying out table banking with the fish farming project now expected to boost the group economically
Kiamuruga Tissue Culture Bananas groups in Kirinyaga Central is also a beneficiary of the project. The group’s Chairman, Elijah Karari said the 25-member group is looking forward to selling their first produce and expanding the project as a way of empowering the members economically.
He said fish farming compared to other farm activities is less time consuming and production cost is manageable. He thanked Governor Waiguru for the support which he will go a long way in uplifting the living standards of the farmers who have embraced the project.
The county government has been supporting farmers to exploit the favourable climatic conditions to increase fish production over the past two years. During the National Aquaculture Annual Stakeholders Review meeting held in Kirinyaga County earlier in the year, Kirinyaga County Government emerged among the top five counties in implementation of the Aquaculture Business Development Program.
Half of all the fish produced in Kenya comes from aquaculture while the other half comes from ocean and lake fishing. Waiguru said that her vision is to see Kirinyaga get a fair share of fishing potential given that it is endowed with favorable aquaculture conditions which include fresh water and ready market.
The County Government is working towards increasing annual fish production from the current 29.4 tons valued at Ksh 12.8 million to 62 tons which will fetch the farmers around Ksh 30 million per year.
Other projects that the County Government is supporting under Wezesha Kirinyaga program are poultry, dairy, avocado and tomato value chains as well as pig rearing, bee keeping and cultivation and value addition of traditional vegetables.