Govt. mulls training aquaculture extension officers to boost fish production

Written By: O'Brien Kimani
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PHOTO. | File

The government plans to train 1000 aquaculture extension officers who will be deployed to the counties to train fish farmers.

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This is part of a Kshs. 15 billion Aquaculture Business Development Program that targets 24 counties.

The investment will include modern aquaponics kits and new hatchery techniques that are expected to improve fish quality and production in the country.

In Kenya, pond-based aquaculture production has registered depressed performance in the last ten years for the third consecutive year, with total fish production declining by 34% from 18,656 tons in 2015 to 12,356 tons in 2017.

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This is due to unsuitable initial designs of the system, poor management due to lack of skilled people, and high mechanical maintenance costs.

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The government plans to train fish farmers on new farming techniques. Part of the plan is to introduce a recirculating aquaculture system that halves fish maturity period from eight to four months thus enabling the farm to meet its market demands besides improving food security.

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The average weight of tilapia fish grown in ponds at one year is 300g. Using RAS technology, the government says fish weighs 400g-500g at four months, thus fetching better prices.

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The aquaculture business development programme is meant to bridge the gap that exists in fish production in the country which stands at 170,000 metric tons with a deficit of 350,000 tons annually.

The Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute says aquaculture which is a climate-smart technology will go a long way in transforming livelihoods.

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