The “Upscaling agricultural technologies to enhance reared fish productivity and improve incomes for smallholder farmers in Kilifi” aims at improving fish productivity and incomes for fish farmers in Kilifi through the adoption and dissemination of improved fish rearing technologies. The project launch held between the 7th and 8th of July was a success with the key stakeholders including the Kilifi county government, KEMFRI and the Fisheries department having being in attendance among fish farmers and financial institutions – among them Mbegu Fund and Imarika Sacco.
The Fish Project aimed at the beneficiaries in KIlifi County will run in the areas, Mtwapa, Kilifi, Mida, Mto Kilifi and Ngomeni, for a period of 2 (two) years. The project will aim to reduce the strain on the costal waters as well as enabling the farmers by building their capacities. The Project will build upon the existing fishing technologies while opening paths to financial awareness for farmers.
The aim of the inception meeting was for the various stakeholders to get familiarized with the project and for the stakeholders – especially the fish farmers, to have their grievances in the fish farming industry. The current picture of the fishing industry in Kilifi county was outlined to the stakeholders by Mr. Mwangi, the Kilifi county Fisheries director. It was clear that the fishing industry was indeed struggling and needed further intervention. The lack thereof of skills, information and better harvesting technologies were among the issues raised by the director.
Challenges Faced by Farmers
The target farmers at the inception represented a sample of the 6,000 farmers targeted by the project. The farmers played a key role of informing the project and other stakeholders of the various needs of the market and the various challenges they experience as fish farmers.
The following are some of the challenges aired out at the inception breakout session;
- High cost of feeds – Costly fish feeds puts a strain on the farmers profits. Some farmers have had to forego their business activities in all due to the pressure and meagre profits.
- Lack of access to fingerlings – The farmers were unable to get access to fingerlings to expand their business. The lack of access to fingerlings has made farmers lose business due to their lack of meeting the high market demand.
- Lack of capital – Farmers raised the issue of access to capital in form of loans. They have been unable to secure loans for themselves to be able to buy fish feeds, especially when starting out. The solution to this was provided by Imarika Sacco and Mbegu Fund who ensured farmers of much better financial service and fine-tuned industry-specific loans.
- Lack of education – The farmers emphasized on their need of access to quality information to better equip themselves, especially in identifying diseases and dealing with the same. The lack of Knowledge on diseases and proper handling of the fish has led to losses on their side.
“We are unable to access fingerlings. If we manage to get them, most die on transit and is mostly a loss to us as a farmer group”Harmold Jabiri, fish farmer.
Interventions were provided by Dr. Mirera and Mr. Mwangi on some issues faced by the farmers. The prevailing issue during such interventions was the lack of information. Dr. Mirera pledged to work closely with the farmers to better understand their needs while also tending to the lack of access of information.
“I commend the farmers for their input in their business. I’ll work closely with them to ensure they have access to the information they need and the technologies that come along with the same.”Dr. Mirera