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Uasin Gishu County and University of Eldoret atarts a Sh 10 million phase one fish hatchery

SMART HARVEST
By Titus Too | September 5th 2015

ELDORET: Identified as the country's food basket, Uasin Gishu is soon becoming a model source of certified fingerlings once a multi-million hatchery project established in partnership of the County government and University of Eldoret (UoE) is completed.

The hatchery project that is expected to be concluded within the next seven months and that will also see the county a leading producer of varieties of fish in the North Rift region.

Uasin Gishu that is reputed for maize, wheat, dairy and horticultural production is slowly diversifying into production of varieties of food products to enhance sufficiency, generate income and create employment.

The county government has already released Sh 10 million for the establishment of phase one of the project while UoE has handed over the site for construction at its main campus in Eldoret.

The project is set to enhance output in the region as farmers taking fish farming as an economic enterprise expected to increase by over four percent once the project is completed.

According to Mr John Oluoch Otiego, the Uasin Gishu County Fisheries officer, an estimate 5,120 tonnes of fish is produced in the area annually generating an average income of Sh 2.048 billion.

"Fish farming is picking up well in Uasin Gishu County with over 2,000 farmers doing the venture as a commercial basis. An average of 5,000 tonnes of fish is achieved from pond farming and another 120 tonnes as capture fish from dams every year," says Otiego.

He said with the establishment of the hatchery through the collaboration of the county government and UoE, fish farmers in the region will easily access certified fingerlings (Certified fish seeds) at subsidised prices for the expansion of the sub-sector.

He said the fingerlings will be raised in the hatchery in between one to two weeks and will be ready to be supplied to farmers at affordable costs to raise them in their ponds.

Professor Teresa Akenga, the UoE Vice Chancellor (VC) while showing the site of construction of the Sh 10m hatchery said its design has been set to International standards and would contribute towards the country's food security by ensuring a steady supply of fish.

"The University has skilled manpower in the department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences that was started in 1984 will effectively manage the hatchery," said Akenga.

She added: "The Sh 10 million through the collaboration of Uasin Gishu County government will come up with a hatchery facility that will make a difference in the community. As a University, we will provide the technical manpower".

Akenga pointed out that fish is a good source of proteins and that once the hatchery project is operational, farmers will expand fish farming and local communities will get fresh fish from the region.

She said the local consumers will be able to access fresh fish with good nutrients as opposed to fish products that are transported from distant regions.

The VC added that the University has 47 fish ponds and the hatchery project will assist in production of certified fingerlings for the expansion of production and will also be used for Training and Research in the Fisheries department.

While announcing the funding, Mr Phillip Melly, the Uasin Gishu County Executive Committee (CEC) member for Trade, Industrialisation, Cooperatives and Wildlife Management said the project will enable farmers access fingerlings of fish varieties they desire at affordable costs.

"The hatchery project will empower communities within and out of Uasin Gishu County. Residents have embraced fish production as a commercial venture but lack of certified fingerlings has been a gap," said Melly.

He stated that the site of the hatchery at UoE is appropriate because of the availability of expert manpower and new technologies and that apart from serving farmers, the institution will use the project for teaching, research and extension services.

"We want to make this region a centre of production of certified fingerlings. Farmers will benefit farmers in income generation and also job creation," said Melly who was also representing Dr Cyril Cheruiyot, Uasin Gishu CEC for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries during the function.

The official said the formation of the North Rift economic bloc is an advantage since market for locally produced products will be expanded.

"There will be a lot of trading and exchange of products. We will also embrace inter-county trading at national level so that we expand market to other regions including Nairobi and beyond," he stated.

Professor Phillip Raburu, the head of Fisheries and Aquatic science said the hatchery will be used to produce two major fish types –Catfish and Tilapia whose demand is high in the region.

"There is potential for fish production in Uasin Gishu County because there are many dams that were constructed during the colonial era. We want to ensure that the MOU satisfies the fingerlings needs of farmers," said Raburu.

He added that UoE is in collaboration with a United States (US) University on research for the development of other varieties of fish.

The achievement, Raburu said, will make the North Rift region self-sufficient in fish production.

Otiego at the same time said a pellete mill for the production of fish feed has been put up at Mugundoi area in the county to enable farmers achieve feeds with quality ingredients.

 

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