Nyeri to privatize fish processing plant as it counts on fisheries to employ the youth

Nyeri County is focusing on the fisheries and aquaculture value chain as it has the opportunity to employ the youth according to Nyeri Agriculture CEC James Wachihi in an interview with Kilimo News. “Aquaculture is not too involving and young people will easily make money as it fits well with them. We have put in a lot of money as County Government of Nyeri in the sub-sector in the last two and a half years,” says Wachihi. “We have already identified a youth group doing waste management. We are now training them to grow red vermi worms & black soldier flies using the waste which becomes good food for the fish. We want to take them as a value chain player and support them to develop a business out of it,” he adds.

Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga holding fish fingerlings flanked by Agriculture CEC James Wachihi

The CEC says this year they have stocked 32 public dams with fingerlings with each dam getting 8,000 fingerlings. “We have also rehabilitated over 260 ponds in the county some of which were dug during the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP). We have dug out the mud and also replaced dam liners and we will continue rehabilitating more,” opines the CEC. Recently the county introduced Cage Culture technology in public dams which are managed by youth groups. According to the agriculture department, in the half year period leading to December 2019, a total of 2,220 kgs and 4,562 kgs were harvested from dams and ponds respectively

The CEC, however, says they want to specifically work on the market aspect on the value chain as more production without a market will be in vain. “As you know in Nyeri we have a fish processing plant at Wamagana in Tetu Constituency which was set up under the Economic Stimulus Programme. It has been lying idle over the years and last year we revived it and put it under a fish farmers cooperative. It has been functioning but the numbers are low thus it has not been the best model,” says Wachihi. He adds they are grateful Nyeri is included in the ongoing Kshs 14.9 Billion Aquaculture Business Development Programme (ABDP) jointly funded by the National Government and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) with a contribution from the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Programme’s objective is to support smallholder aquaculture farming in 15 Counties with high aquaculture potential and Nyeri hosts a regional office for the programme. Through the programme, they are looking for a way to make the fish processing plant more beneficial to fish farmers.

Agriculture CEC James Wachihi releasing fish fingerlings into a dam

“We intend to privatize the fish processing plant and we have presented a paper that has been approved by the County cabinet and public participation with farmers will follow as we hold the facility on behalf of them and we have to sell the idea to them. After this corona pandemic, this will happen. If given the go ahead, we have many who wants to get in. We want to get a private investor whom we can agree on a guaranteed minimum return to fish farmers. It is not about the rent we will get from the plant but the money that get into farmers’ pockets,” says Wachihi.

The CEC says the target is to have about 3,200 fish farmers in the county by the next financial year. “In the next two years, there will be success stories in the sub-sector,” says the CEC.

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