Fish farming in Kenya: Profitable Fish Farming In Kenya

The fish farming industry in Kenya has greatly grown over the last few decades. The promotion of aquaculture started in the early 1920s as a subsistence means of supplementing protein sources in rural areas. This was a non-commercial approach and it was promoted only as a family subsistence activity. This has however changed over the years with the government putting a lot of effort and resources into promoting aquaculture as a business. Many entrepreneurs s have now invested in commercial aquaculture ventures.

The country is home to distinct geographic and climatic regions and resources such as large rivers, the Indian Ocean coastline, swamps, and Lake Victoria, the largest freshwater lake on the continent. Such resources contribute to the abundance of an array of aquatic species in Kenya, which favours both large and small scale fish farming in Kenya.

Although Kenya has a long coastline bordering the Indian Ocean, and therefore great potential for marine aquaculture, this is yet to realise any meaningful development and the resources remain largely unused.

Freshwater aquaculture dominates fish farming in Kenya and can be divided into:

1. Coldwater culture involving the culture of rainbow trout in highland areas.

2. Warm water culture involving the culture of Tilapine fishes, the African catfish, common carp and a variety of ornamental fishes in low land regions of the country.

Any or a combination of the above can lead to attractive profits if well planned and thought out. For an investor to opt for any of these enterprises, it is important for the decision to be based on proven facts. This calls for thorough prior planning.

Fish never stop growing. Some grow fast, reaching adult size in a few months. Others take 10 years or more to become adult size. Usually, larger types of fish grow more slowly than smaller types, but not always.

Fish Feeding

For the most part, feeding your fish once or twice a day is sufficient. Some hobbyists even fast their fish one or two days a week to allow them to clear their digestive systems. Larger, more sedentary fish can go longer between meals than smaller, more active fish.

Read More On: Profitable Sheep Farming – How to Start and Business Plan.

Healthy adult fish can go for a week or two without feeding. However, young fish don’t have the fat stores of adult fish and they cannot go without eating very long. That does not mean you should routinely skip feedings, but your fish can safely be left without food over a long holiday weekend.

Factors to consider before venturing into fish farming

1. Market

 Where will I sell my fish? This is a question you should ask well before you go into fish production. Surprisingly, many fish farmers ask this question deep into their production cycle. Others will ask this question after they have harvested their fish. As a serious producer, you should ask and get answers to this question well before you go into production.

It is important to consider marketing alternatives to avoid disappointment when a target markets collapse. For the marketing alternatives chosen or considered, product volumes and size preferences, costs associated with the marketing, and relevant legislation should be considered very carefully.

2. Water supply.

An assured water supply of sufficient quantity and adequate quality is the most important factor to be considered when deciding on the suitability of a fish pond site.

The source of water may be an irrigation canal, river, creek, reservoir, lake, spring, rainfall-runoff and dug or deep wells. Water can be supplied via feeder channel, storage tank or pipeline by gravity or by pumping to the ponds. The most economical method is gravity.

3. Water quality

Quality of water is one of the most significant factors to be considered in site selection. It should be investigated by taking a number of water samples from the proposed water source for laboratory analyses of physical, chemical, biological and microbiological properties, including health hazards. Water test procedures should be in accordance with the relevant Standard Classification in the country on water quality.

4. Fish to be produced

The fish to be produced must not only be marketable but also suited for the climate and be produced cost-effectively. Different fish require different climatic conditions to perform optimally.

5. Profitability

Fish farming is a lucrative business idea in Kenya. For instance, a farmer in Mt Kenya began the business with about Ksh. 30,000 and started making profits after just 6 months. Her first big money from his fish farm was Ksh 200,000. Currently, the farmer earns between Ksh. 80,000 and Ksh. 150,000 every month from the sale of fish and fingerlings. This is just but an example to confirm how lucrative fish farming in Kenya can be.

Tilapia farming which originated in the Middle East and Africa has now become the most profitable business in most countries. Tilapia has become the second most popular seafood after crab, due to which its farming is flourishing.

Challenges facing Fish farming in Kenya

The water quality has declined due to eutrophication arising from the inflow of nutrients into the lake. More so, massive blooms of algae have developed causing hypoxia in the deep waters of the lake, and overfishing and oxygen depletion threaten artisanal fisheries and biodiversity.

Another challenge is overfishing resulting from the use of small meshed nets and unlicensed fishermen resulting in the extinction of such species. Pollution of water bodies by oil spillage and seepage of industrial and agricultural chemicals into the water which kills marine organisms and prohibits the introduction of fish into such waters.

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