SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS

Fish farmers to benefit from Sh100m programme

The idea is to first have the farmers trained on best aquaculture practices

In Summary
  • It will involve 50 smallholder farmers in Western and Eastern Kenya, with the possibility of rolling it out to more farmers in the country at the end of two years.
  • On the market side, the buyer will buy at least 80 per cent of the fish produced by each farmer at a competitive market price.
Fishermen in Lake Victoria.
Fishermen in Lake Victoria.
Image: ROBERT OMOLLO

Kenya's fish farmers will benefit from a programme to increase profitability of their farms through a data-driven integrated ecosystem approach.

The programme launched in Kisumu is worth more than Sh100 million.

Designed by Lattice Aquaculture Limited and Sustainable Trade Initiative, which is its funding partner, the programme will begin as a two-year pilot project.

It will involve 50 smallholder farmers in Western and Eastern Kenya, with the possibility of rolling it out to more farmers in the country at the end of two years.

“The fisheries and aquaculture sector in Kenya is underdeveloped with great unrealised potential. We are committed to accelerating the sector’s growth through various initiatives, one of them being this integrated programme," Lattice Aquaculture East Africa regional head Julie Muyela  said. 

The approach, which is the first of its kind in the country, brings together all the stakeholders that a farmer needs during the farming process to the point of purchase.

These stakeholders include one feed manufacturer and supplier, two fingerling suppliers, an aquaculture training institution, two micro-finance institutions and a buyer.

“We realised that fish farmers in Kenya struggle to make their businesses profitable. This is due to a lack of access to finance and markets, poor inputs and insufficient technical skills," Muyela said. 

She added that the programme tackles all those challenges ensuring that fish farmers have a chance to have a profitable and sustainable business.

The regional head said the programme will first have the farmers trained on best aquaculture practices that will enable them to appreciate both the technical and business angles of their fish farming.

They will then be linked to input suppliers who will deliver high quality feed and fingerlings in addition to doing farm follow-ups to ensure the farms are efficient.

"The quality of feeds and fingerlings are important elements when it comes to a fish farm’s profitability potential. Two financial institutions have been included in the ecosystem to cater to the farmers' aquaculture financial needs," Muyela said. 

The project adopts the "take aquaculture to the banks" strategy, where the institutions will receive training on aquaculture value chains and trained on aquaculture business scenarios.

This will enable them to tailor-make products that are palatable to fish farmers.

The farmers, she said, shall be trained on the requirements of financial institutions to make them credit-ready.

On the market side, the buyer will buy at least 80 per cent of the fish produced by each farmer at a competitive market price.

“We have partnered with Aquarech who will provide market linkages to absorb 80 per cent of the fish, leverage on its mobile app to provide viable data on farmer locations, production, sales and prices for smallholder farmers in targeted regions, among other things,” she said. 

Lattice Aqua Technical project manager John Erick said the collection and analysis of data is a key aspect to this end-to-end programme because the data will be used by all stakeholders to ensure the successful commercialisation of these fish farms.

Erick said data will provide farmers with insights into efficiency and profitability, such as feed costs throughout the cycle, feed usage, feed conversion ratios, cost price, revenue and good business practices, among other things.

"Farmers can analyse this data to assess where improvements can be made, as well as when to access financing. The financial institutions in the programme will also use this data to continue to build a business case for aquaculture financing in Kenya,” he said.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, aquaculture has great unrealised potential in Kenya given its numerous aquatic resources.

The country has more than 1.14 million hectare potential area suitable for fish farming with a capacity to produce more than 11 million metric tonnes of fish worth Sh750 shillings, an amount that can greatly contribute to Kenya’s economy if farmers are well.

 

(edited by Amol Awuor)

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