Kakamega Women Join Ranks of Trained Fish Farmers
As the facilitator, Norman Munala was explaining the skills; it was amusing to observe the shock on their faces when they were told that the female Nile perch deposits it’s eggs in her mouth until the fingerlings are able to survive on their own. To Jones Namutali, the imagination was most unsettling. “Do they feed during this period or do they stay without food?” she posed. This, said Munala, is a protective mechanism whereby the fish ensures warmth and comfort for the fingerlings in the mouth till they are mature enough to be released to the water. “…. so they eat but at a reduced pace than normal.”
Ruth Agenyera wanted to know the number of times fish should be fed, “and how as a farmer she you know when your fish is sick?” Munala urged them to feed their fish at least twice everyday with a variety of fish feeds including those that are locally available. “You can also do your own formulation at home like using the leaves of potatoes and arrow roots which are cheaply available.”
He also cautioned against feeding fish at different points of the pond, and at different times of the day, “…. so you need to feed them at the same location of the pond and at the same time everyday.” And he went on, “also don’t throw the food and walk away. Instead be there for some time to monitor their behaviors and movement.” This he said is a way of noting some of the signs that fish could be sick in the pond, “…. for example, the presence of black spots on the fish skin, lack of appetite to eat, fish turning up side down,……….” He attributed such signs to bad, low quality fingerlings and poor feeding methods.
Other pertinent questions included why the pond should be fertilized, and the types of fertilizer recommended for fish farming.
Munala noted that many potential fish farmers miss the point during the pond construction stage.
The issue of fish marketing remains a big challenge for women in the region. But as Munala says, the Ministry of Fisheries development is currently constructing storage facilities to accommodate the rising production. However, Munala advised the prospective farmers to take the first initiative to find market for their fish, “The market is not necessarily in Nairobi and you can start with the local fish consumers here in Kakamega,” he said.
Security concerns also poses great challenge for the farmers. Munala advised the participants to have their fishponds closer home to avoid intruders. Other control measures also include fertilizing the pond, “…this will turn the pond greenish so that birds do not see their pray.
Munala advised the participants to ensure high discipline, care and dedication in fish farming.
KWFT Fish farming loan
The microfinance organization has already developed a loan product, which is now advanced in one phase. A total of Kshs 76,000 is divided into two segments, with Kshs 30,000 for pond construction and the remaining Kshs 46,000 to cater for the fish feeds and management expenses. Asked about how to manage the repayment of different loans for their different businesses, Mr. Peter Chege urged them to consider cutting costs of operation by utilizing the locally available feeds and fertilizer alongside the mechanical products. “Working smart is the only way you will manage your finances. You can also employ the services of your youth to dig the ponds or hire the already constructed ponds cheaply.” He also encouraged them to handle money instead of leaving the whole investment on fish farming solely to their husbands. “You should equally get involved but with the assistance of your husbands.” Chege is the KWFT regional Manager for Western Kenya.
Despite the challenges, fish-farming venture has diverse advantages and a vast of opportunities both to the farmer and the rest of the community. If you’re not the farmer, “You can also open an aqua shop and stock fishing nets, fish feeds, lime and fertilizer for use by other farmers,” Munala said.
The participants have vowed to work hand in hand with Ministry of Fisheries to succeed in the project. In her testimony, Ruth Agenyera who had abandoned her pond after getting a string of losses in a row said she will not look at her past mistakes. “I started it with my two children but harvested nothing. But am now happy for the teachings and am not going to rest.” Grace Kagia said she is also going to renovate her pond once again and apply the knowledge she has gained from the training.
The project titled; “Enhancing rural livelihood through capacity building and aquaculture” was organized to train the women on fish farming skills as a way of helping them improve their family livelihoods.