KENYA – The government of Kenya is set to inject Sh.200 million (US$1.8m) for the rehabilitation of the National Aquaculture Research Centre at Sagana in Kirinyaga County.

The upgrade of the facility will include construction of a modern administration block, a kitchen and hostels.

According to the Chief Administrative Secretary Fisheries Department (CAS), Jebii Kilimo, the facility will undertake training of fish keeping in green houses known as aquaponics, of which qualified students will be issue with certificates courtesy of a partnership with TVET.

According to reports by Kenyan News Agency, fish keeping in green houses utilizes very little water without the use of ponds.

“The green house project allows the plants and fish to grow in a short period of time and also conserves water so that even in places where there are no lakes or a lot of water, they can use very little household water,” Kilimo explained.

The training is aimed at equipping the youth with skills on fish farming which would translate to increased fish production in the country.

“If the nation has enough fish, it will be cheaper than imported ones and this will allow fair competition in the market,” Kilimo said.

Being an efficient and effective way of rearing fish, all a farmer requires is a 15 by 20-meter piece which can stock 100 fingerings, which will take between 4- 6 months to mature.

Aquaponic is also a sustainable fish farming method as waste from the fish is passed to vegetables grown in the same environment as manure.

On the past economic stimulus programme introduced by the government in 2009/2010 promoting aquaculture, Kilimo said the project experienced teething problems from where lessons were learnt.

Under the stimulus programme, the government set funds to construct 200 fish ponds in all 140 political constituencies where fish farming is carried out.

The government also provided each pond with 15 kgs of fertilizer and 1000 fingerlings which was to give the famers a jump start.

But ten years down the line, in some constituencies not a single pond exists despite the billions sunk into the venture.

“With a different approach this time round, we are set to succeed but I must urge our farmers to intensify production to meet the national demand which is the only way to reduce flooding the markets with cheap imports from China,” added Kilimo.

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