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Home / Smart Harvest

Nyeri fish farmers to supply produce to Kibera for a year

Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga at Ruthagati dam, in Kirimukuyu during restocking. [Lydiah Nyawira, Standard]

Fish farmers in Nyeri have secured a deal to deliver their produce to Kibera Market traders, their first sale outside the county.

The deal between Fish Farmers’ Co-operative Society, set up in 2015, and the Kibera traders will run for a year.

According to the co-operative society’s chairman Charles Mbauni, the farmers have delivered the first batch of 300kg.

“We are happy with this opportunity to sell our produce outside Nyeri County because we are partnering with a market that is willing to buy our fish in the long term,” he noted.

Mbauini admitted that since the onset of Covid-19 that disrupted the hotel industry, the farmers have not sold any fish in months.

“The fish farmers have mature fish in their ponds but no market, our main customers were local hotels which consumed majority of the fish,” he noted.

However another challenge facing the farmers is that the size of fish produced does not meet the market standards that can allow them to fetch better prices.

“Most farmers cannot afford the fish feeds, and hence their tilapia weigh less than 350gm. This has hindered the ability of the farmers to process their fish in bulk at Wamagana Fish Factory.

The contract is likely to benefit the farmers who believe Kibera is the ideal market as customers are willing to buy even the small fish.

“In the Kibera Market, there is a kadogo (small-sized) economy which means they can buy fish which are smaller than 350gm. Some customers can only afford small fish,” Mbauni explained.

The deal will enable the farmers, to harvest the fish, process it and transport it using the Wamagana refrigerated truck.

Wamagana Fish processing and bulk factory was constructed under the Economic Stimulus Programme and has the capacity to process 21,000 metric tonnes of fish.

The facility had been leased to the farmers’ cooperative by the county government but has been operating below capacity for over six years.

Wamagana factory was handed over to the county by the national government to hold in trust for local fish farmers, but with the facility often lying idle or running below capacity plans are under way to find a private investor to run it.

This year the county government failed to renew the lease for the farmers as it considers plans to privatise the facility  

Nyeri Agriculture Executive James Wachihi said the county was in the final stages of seeking investors after the proposal was approved. “The fish farmers do not have the capacity to market and process their produce, a private investor who is specialised in this area is the best option,” Wachihi noted.

Wachihi said the investors would ensure the facility was utilised, leaving the fish farmers to focus on production. “It is best to let farmers focus on what they do best which is production and leave the marketing and processing to private entities,” the county official explained.

However, the plan to privatise the facility has left farmers uncertain about their future as their lease is yet to be renewed.

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