Boost for Kirinyaga fish famers as County Government establishes an exclusive fish market
Kirinyaga County Government has established an exclusive fish market that will enhance the marketing system for fish in the county.
The market that has been established at Kiaga, will be the county’s aggregation center for fish thus providing farmers with a reliable facility for domestic fish bulking, preliminary processing and one-stop fish shop.
Governor Anne Waiguru has said that the center is part of Wezesha Kirinyaga program that aims at supporting farmers to increase their agricultural production and boost earnings for the farmers.
She said that her administration has been supporting aquaculture development in the county through provision of fish pond liners, fish fingerlings, fish feeds and extension services. She added that the aggregation center will now address post-harvest management and marketing of the fish.
The County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Dr. John Gachara, said that the aggregation center will enable farmers to aggregate and sell their fish from a central place that i accessible to buyers. The center will also offer a hygienic environment for preliminary fish processing such as slaughtering and washing in preparation for delivery for further processing at a fish processing plant expected to be set up at Sagana Industrial Park. Other fish will be prepared for the local market as well as markets in other towns like Nairobi.
The aggregation center has cold rooms as well as cooler boxes that will be used for transportation of fish from the farms to the center.
Gachara said that there will also be fish eateries at the aggregation center which is strategically situated along Kagio-Kutus highway. He said the market will benefit over 2,000 farmers who the county has organized for form a cooperative that will oversee the running of the center.
Gachara said that the county government is committed to making fish farming a competitive industry and a recognized income earner for county farmers. He noted that availability of a fish market will protect farmers from exploitation by farm gate brokers.
“The aquaculture development program is aimed at transforming fish farming from a livelihood to commercial venture and is expected to help create a sustainable local economy,” said Gachara, adding that fish production is expected to increase with the construction of dams in Kanjai, Njukiini and Ndia. For fish harvesting in the dams, the CECM said that farmers will be provided with canoes and fishing gears.
With climate swings that at times manifest in prolonged dry spells affecting crop production, fish farming has emerged as a viable practice that will boost earnings for farmers and improve the county’s nutrition status.
The aggregation center has been well received by fish farmers who say that it is the long awaited relief to their market challenges.
Felister Wandia, a fish farmer from Kiambagathi village in Ndia Constituency, stated that the aggregation center is a welcome move that will save them from incurring post-harvest loses that occur when they fail to secure market for the fish after harvesting.
“Sometimes we lack ready market for our fish while at other times, buyers change their minds at the last minute, forcing us to take back our harvest. This center will therefore provide farmers like me with a ready market as well as cold storage space as we sell our fish.” She said.
Her sentiments were echoed by Joseph Wachira, who said that the cold storage at the aggregation center will go a long way in enabling him harvest stay fresh as they market them thus shielding farmers from post-harvest loses. He hailed the move by governor Waiguru as the most progressive step towards boosting fish farming in the county.
Josphine Wangui, a member of Kariti Fish Farmers in Kirinyaga West was also elated by the move by the county government to establish a fish aggregation center, noting that it will encourage more farmers to take up fish farming as a commercial venture thus boosting their earnings and subsequently their living standards.
Stanley Munene, a fish farmer from Kiini Ward, said that the support that Governor Waiguru has been according to fish farmers in the county has encouraged many people to take up the practice noting that in the near future, the county will be a major fish producer not only for local consumption but for export as well.