The coastal region of Kilifi, whose economy is based largely on the fishing sector, has recognized the need for more sustainable fishing methods in the region while still meeting the needs of the local and outside market. The EU – Agrifi funded Kilifi County Fish Project supported through KALRO aims to achieve just that.
The project has embarked on the mobilization of fish farmers in the region which aimed at aggregating farmers and providing them the vital education to boost fish productivity in the region. The Farmer Training School method will be used in the pre-selected learning points, increasing the retainability of information. The mobilization efforts emphasises on the new and improved tilapia breed that will be reared in salt water.
The three-day exercise covered Kilifi-North and Kilifi-South bringing on board 222 fish farmers. The farmers were sensitized on the benefits of the breed of Tilapia that would fetch them twice the price of other currently reared fish like milk fish. The current milk fish price is for 200/= per kilo while improved Tilapia breed will fetch them 400/= a kilo.
Farmer Reception of the Agrifi Fish Project
Most farmers welcomed the intervention noting that the lack of quality fingerlings has been a major setback to their business. Mtepeni Community Mariculture Ponds, indicated their interest in the rearing of tilapia, stating their willingness to attend the on site classes without fail.
“We really appreciate and welcome such an initiative. Despite us having a market for our milk fish, it has proved to be challenging. We look forward to rearing other fish breeds especially the improved tilapia. The project will be beneficial to the members and overall, the locals,” said Mr. Wanje.
Mwachideko CBO, another notable group visited during the mobilization also expressed their happiness and interest in being part of the project.
“We have lacked fingerlings for a while. The quality of our output has also been on the decline. The fact that the Agrifi Fish Project will provide us the fingerlings and education on handling them is more than a blessing to us. We look forward to start learning on how to rear the improved breeds come next year January,” said the assistant secretary.
Marketing of Produce in the Agrifi Project
Market is a major challenge to the production of fish for wholesale for most farmers in Kilifi. Many have previously suffered huge losses due to the lack of stable market.
The Project aims to remedy this by achieving the required quantities of scale in production of tilapia from groups targeted by the project providing sustainable market linkages with other actors in the sector. The groups will be able to get a share of their contribution to the overall output sold to local and other markets, thus, providing a stable output of fish from Kilifi County.
Kilifi county perennially experiences and through the project will benefit from the nutritional value that the improved tilapia will offer especially for household and local consumption.
The current state of the fishing sector in the county has seen the decline in the quality and quantities of fish in the region. . The county Director of Fisheries Mr. Mwangi acknowledged the value of the project and promised the departments support through technical advise provided by the departments fisheries officers.