Hatchery International

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Kenya’s IFAD-funded aquaculture program transforms communities

May 31, 2024  By Bob Atwiine

George Mike Nyamboro feeding his fish in Kisii county. (Photo: George Mike Nyamboro )

Kenyan fish farmers say they are observing tremendous social-economic transformation in their local communities thanks to Aquaculture Business Development Programme (ABDP)

The program, jointly funded by the Kenyan government and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), has been providing support in comprehensive aquaculture training for startup farmers with a focus on business idea development, creating a bankable and viable plan for youth in its 15 county areas of operation.

It has also been extending extensive training in fish farming techniques, financial literacy, and pond management.

As a result, the beneficiaries say they have generated income and contributed to local food security and nutrition by selling directly to schools, churches, and the community.


Nyamongo Japhet from Kisii County says through the ABDP programme, he received 1,000 fingerlings, a pond liner, and essential training in fish farming techniques, financial literacy and business management.

With these vital skills, Nyamongo effectively managed his fish farming enterprise, incorporating innovative practices like fish farming integration. By involving locals in harvesting activities, Nyamongo created job opportunities, supporting livelihoods in rural areas and fostering community development.

Nyamongo says his ambitions in aquaculture are to start offering consultancy services, expanding into fish processing, and constructing more ponds to create economic opportunities within his community.

Nixon Francis Etemesi is another dedicated fish farmer and IFAD programme beneficiary from Kakamega County who is championing sustainable aquaculture having embarked on his aquaculture journey in 2019. Through ABDP training, Etemesi became a Trainer of Trainers (ToT), successfully training 250 youths from various ABDP Aquaculture Support Enterprises.

He has also ventured into vermiculture, producing vermicast—a natural fertilizer enriching soil nutrients and structure. His innovation extended to harvesting vermi juice, which he uses to fertilize and accelerate algae growth in his pond for natural fish food. He sells the vermi juice to fellow farmers who use it as a foliar feed.

Etemesi says he aims to establish his farm as a training centre for farmers, institutions, and community members and inspire young individuals to pursue fish farming for valuable opportunities.

Nyamboro George Mike is another resilient fish farmer living with a disability who overcame challenges to transform his aquaculture venture with the support of the program.

With the support of 1000 fingerlings and a predator net from ABDP, Nyamboro now manages three ponds with catfish and tilapia, showcasing his commitment to sustainable aquaculture.

Nyamboro also aspires to expand his fish and vegetable farming operations, enhancing food security and economic opportunities in Kisii County.

Charles Iriri from Machakos County is another versatile Kenyan fish farmer cultivating both tilapia, catfish, and ornamental fish. With limited space, he manages six raised fish ponds. He initially utilized regular greenhouse papers and structures to establish his operations.

Iriri Charles from Mutungulu, Machakos county a versatile farmer cultivating both tilapia, catfish and ornamental fish in raised fish ponds. (Photo: Iriri Charles)

Iriri says he prefers using greenhouse technology for his raised tanks because it provides consistent temperatures ranging from 23 to 29 degrees Celsius, accelerating fish growth compared to open-air technologies. With this technology, Iriri can achieve a harvestable size of 350 grams in just five months, whereas open-air culture methods take around eight months. This efficient approach has significantly improved his fish farming operations.

Iriri actively promotes his fish farming enterprise through social media platforms leveraging these channels and adds value to his products by selling fried fish, providing a convenient and appealing option for his customers.

From the proceeds from his four successful harvests, Iriri has initiated a free-range hatchery and stocked an impressive quantity of fingerlings—60,000 for catfish and 80,000 for tilapia.

Njenga Samuel from Kajiado, whose fish farm has seen significant growth over the years marked by innovative techniques and sustainable practices, has also been instrumental in overcoming challenges and embracing opportunities within the aquaculture industry with assistance from the funding.

At first, without adequate expertise in this field, Njenga struggled to manage his farm and optimize production. Additionally, it was difficult to source quality fingerlings, which are essential for successful fish farming.

He notes that the absence of reliable information on suitable fish feeds further complicated his efforts, impacting the growth and health of his fish stock.

These challenges underscored the critical need for training and support in aquaculture, highlighting the transformative impact that initiatives like ABDP can have on aspiring fish farmers

Recognizing the potential benefits, Njenga was selected as a beneficiary and received comprehensive training, including feed formulation techniques.

Over time, Njenga has successfully harvested three times, with recorded weights of 500 grams, 350 grams, and 700 grams for the fish produced. From his records, at least 600 fish weighed 1 kilogram when harvesting highlighting his journey in fish farming and the impact of the fund’s support in improving his practices and outcomes.

He notes that he shares his expertise by offering consultancy on hatchery management, successfully guiding three local farmers in adopting his knowledge. Looking ahead, Njenga aims to expand his ponds to boost fish production and further contribute to sustainable aquaculture practices within his community.

Mutunga Bonface from Kiambu County also says he received training on pond construction, fish feeding, grow-out production, and fish handling through the program. In addition to fish farming, Mutunga cultivates the Azolla plant after realizing that purchasing quality fish feed is expensive and inconvenient due to the distance from his farm and the market.

Matunga Nixon from Thika sub county, Kiambu county at one of his fish ponds. (Photo: Matunga Nixon)

He adds that he plans to venture into value addition, learn black soldier fly (BSF) culturing, culture catfish, and restocking his ponds to enhance his fish farming operation.

The program, which is targeting 213,000 beneficiaries in 35,500 households from 15 counties, has registered a milestone of 18,947 beneficiaries. This IFAD-funded programme aims to increase the incomes, food security and nutritional status of the wider communities of poor rural households involved in aquaculture.

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