Fish farming is the next venture for farmers in the pastoral West Pokot County in North Rift.
The county government is wooing livestock keepers to turn to fish farming as a way of combating cattle rustling in the region.
The county administration’s programme is aimed at engaging the pastoral Turkana and Pokot communities to benefit from fisheries at Turkwel dam along their common boundary.
West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo said the project would help address food insecurity and socio-economic challenges as well as end inter-community attacks.
“We are trying to use natural resources as an intervention to keep people together,” said Prof Lonyangapuo.
More local farmers are embracing fish farming and consumption thus expanding the existing fish market in the region.
“The project is now changing fortunes of Pokot farmers. The community is now learning how to diversify into fish farming. We want to expand our source of livelihood in the pastoral region,” said the governor.
Lonyangapuo, whose administration has bought three modern boats to effectively ease transportation at the dam in Turkwel, added that the vessels will also offer emergency services.
County County Executive Committee (CEC) member for Agriculture Geofrey Lipale said the county had stocked more than 100,000 tilapia fingerlings in the dam that would be ready for harvesting in the next three months.
He noted that Turkwel dam is able to produce close to 500,000 kilogrammes of fingerlings per year.
“Members of Pokot and Turkana communities around the dam will depend on the project to change their diet and at the same time boost their economic lifestyle. Fishing has attracted the growth of centres around the man-made lake and people as far as Kapenguria and Turkana South get their supply from the dam,” he said.
Local beneficiaries said they have embraced fishing as a source of livelihood.
“Locals have changed their minds to do fish rather than rearing livestock for meat. We believe our lives will be transformed and cattle rustling will be a thing of the past,” said Joel Lokomul.
William Lomada, a local chief, said cattle rustling will end as the two communities engage in fishing.
They spoke at the shores of the Turkwel dam after the county government donated three modern boats and 50,000 fingerlings to farmers.