Fish farming is quickly catching up in Uasin Gishu county as farmers seek to diversify from maize farming.
Hundreds of farmers have dug up ponds and are attracting support from various institutions including the University of Eldoret in relation to research and extension services.
The Uasin Gishu county government is now partnering with the research institution and farmers in order to meet the equally growing demand in the region.
Currently the shortage of fish in the region has forced traders to import fish from Uganda where production is higher.
Traders and owners of eateries import an estimated 2.4 tonnes from Uganda per day for consumption in Eldoret and other urban centres in the region.
"We also get some fish from Kisumu but the prices there are higher due to low production and that is why many of us opt to get it from Uganda where it’s a bit cheaper,” said fish monger Jane Nanjala, who operates at the fish market in Eldoret town.
She says the number of fish consumers in the town has grown tremendously in the last three years.
Cosmas Langa’t, from the fisheries department in Eldoret, says they are projecting an even higher demand for fish in the region hence the decision to sensitize more farmers to venture into fish farming through ponds.
“The county is putting a lot of emphasis on fish farming at the moment because we are also realising growth in population hence the push to provide fish especially in Eldoret town,” Langa’t said.
The county in partnership with the University of Eldoret is developing breeds that will be supplied to farmers to boost production.
“Local farmers produce between 250kg and 500kg per day and that is why the county is stepping in to close the difference which is way below the volume imported,” said Lang’at.
The newly introduced greenhouse fish farming is also taking root in the region.
“This type of farming gives an alternative to farmers who cannot readily establish ponds since they are far from swamps and dams,” said Lang'at.
The farmers are also being trained to form co-operatives so that they can easily access loans and jointly market their produce.
So far more than 1,000 farmers in Uasin Gishu have either joined or are preparing to venture into fish farming.
Ben Chelimo, who is one of the fish farmers at Kuinet, said he was earning more from fish compared to maize which he has been planting in the past.
Due to the high demand of fish, he makes sales of up to Sh100,000 per month which earns him good profits after deducting the costs of feeds and labour.
Uasin Gishu county fisheries officer, Charles Mwaniki, said aquaculture is the new type of farming which is growing in popularity in the region.
He says the department is planning to conduct mobilisation and sensitisation to the public on the importance of rearing fish and the need for farmers to join co-operative society as well as the Aquacultural Association of Kenya for maximum benefits.
“In the past fish farmers worked individually and lack of market and getting fish feeds and fingerlings was a great challenge but this has changed with team work among farmers,” said Mwaniki.