Miraa farmers have been advised to embrace aquaculture to cushion them from the current market challenges the crop is experiencing internationally.
Igembe South Sub-County Director of Fisheries Kennedy Opiyo called on miraa farmers in Nyambene region to embrace aquaculture and the blue economy as alternative economic activity to diversify from the ‘green gold’ that is their major source of income.
Speaking in Maua Town Tuesday, the Sub-County Director said there is global increase in aquaculture activities due to depletion of wild fisheries and the region should take advantage of this global phenomenon to diversify their sources of income.
“There has been remarkable increase of aquaculture production in the last decade in Kenya. Meru County has been part of that national success in Aquaculture,” Opiyo maintained adding that, “Nyambene region has the potential to meet the programme goal through improving fish production and developments along fish value chain, given its many water resources and hardworking residents.”
He said Nyambene region has mainly warm water fishes namely, Tilapia, catfish and corps but has the potential of adopting farming of cold water fish species such as Rainbow Trout especially around Kiegoi and Nyambene hills.
“Eating fish products help in maintaining healthy heart by lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of sudden heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms and stroke, prevent inflammation and reduce the risk of arthritis. The omega 3 fatty acids found in fish help to treat liver diseases. They also have aesthetic value which helps to reduce tension and stress,” he quips.
Aquaculture Business Development Programme (ABDP) is a programme that is jointly funded by the government of Kenya (GOK) and the International Fund of Agriculture Development (IFAD) from the year 2018 to 2026.
Meru county having high aquaculture potential and with proper support infrastructure is among counties selected for the implementation of this programme.
Opiyo disclosed that the basic requirement for fish farming include availability of water, market, land, labour, capital and inputs.
According to Opiyo, the water should be adequate, reliable and of good quality while feed should be of high protein.
Fish should be of the right type and of good quality while the feed should contain the recommended protein content, minerals and vitamins and be of appropriate sizes for various fish species and sizes.
Fish can be reared in ponds, tanks, raceways and cages.
“Fish harvesting should be done in the morning when the temperature is low. This should be followed by: cleaning, grading according to market demand, gutting, packaging and icing and proper transportation,” said the Fisheries Director.
Over the recent years Miraa farmers have been faced with serious challenge of marketing their green gold since the ban by some international nations like the Netherlands.
This market challenge of miraa produce has adversely affected the economy and social livelihood of the residents of Igembe region in Meru County.
It calls for immediate intervention by the government which legalized the crop as cash crop as well as setting aside Kshs. 2 billion to manage the plant.