The slippery gold in our waters

By Jares Oundo,

Part of the solutions to the alarming rate of unemployment in East African Community (EAC) is venturing into virgin and untapped ventures such as aquaculture. No government can provide food and jobs for all its citizens. It is the duty of every citizen to rise up to the occasion and put food on their tables even if it means to create jobs in the air and produce food under the sea. Aqua business has been recommended by development partners and consultants as the easiest means of self-employment that can profit citizens since it doesn’t require too much money to invest into it. Shamba Kraft Limited together with its partners is currently leading the campaign for fish farming in the region; training farmers on various fish farming technique with the aim of unlocking and maximizing the potential that is buried within water bodies in the region.

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Shamba Kraft Limited (SKL) is focused on providing agribusiness solutions including in areas of business modeling and financing for medium and large scale farm mechanization, farmer extension, agro-industrial infrastructure payment platforms, business planning for governments, private sector and development sectors in Eastern Africa.

Globally, farmers are major backbones of economies. Since the world began farmers have been major promoters of trade including Egypt, Israel, Netherlands, USA and other leading world economies since they create jobs for themselves and also for others either directly or indirectly. They are major suppliers of food products in their families and the society at large, thereby reducing hunger, poverty, diseases, unemployment among other enemies for human beings.

Kenya today has more than twenty million Kenyans are not in formal employment; this is more than the population of countries such Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi and other African countries. On these premises, aquaculture consultant, Moses Nyabila, advises Africans to venture into fish farming to abate the looming food crisis. He said when you want to rear tilapia or catfish farming, it requires minimal startup capital and it grows rapidly within a short period thereby generating rapid and high turnover per acre than what sugar plantation in the same acre can produce. Modern fish farm does not need large tract of land to thrive unlike other farming ventures. If water and space like 10×10 feet is presented, then you have all you need get started towards making your fortune. With the minimal investment one can set up a small scale fish fingerlings producing business. You only  need a hatching pond of about 12ft by 4ft that can be fashioned into a shape of box with only five planks, nails and 3×2 woods then lay tarpaulin or thick water-proof material inside the box. Then add clean water and start your hatchery activities. Nevertheless, if you desire to raise fingerlings to table sized fish suitable for consumption, it will take a small amount of money to create a standard concrete fish pond of about 16ft by 10ft and stock it with at least 1, 200 fingerlings and feed them till maturity which normally takes four to six months depending on the fish species and age.

It is recommended to acquire fish juveniles of 18 weeks old than fingerlings of six to eight weeks. Furthermore, you don’t have to depend solely on costly imported feed, since one can learn to produce local cheap feed.

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“Catfish is very productive. Six females catfish and two males fish Broodstock can yield up to 20,000 fingerlings at once. I have seen 32,700 at ago in most of our clients’ farms, if you do not have a place to enlarge, you can start selling the fingerlings,” said Gilbert Gitamo.

Anyone who is unemployed for example can start with little amount and begin to make profits at a very short time. If you buy them and rear for four to six months, you sell them and make more profits. If properly farmed, Catfish can reach 2-4 Kg in five months.

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Worry less about catfish marketing since at the moment in the continent, the level of demand surpasses the supply. This specie is very popular and heavily demanded type of fish since it has less bones and its rich nutritional value. It is traditionally positioned as a semi-luxury fish. Though comparatively costly, it is eaten by all classes of folks. Even non-traditional fish mongers like the people of central Kenya prefer Catfish to other fish species.

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It is unfortunate that our education system is not designed to make our students entrepreneurs, which is why most graduates don’t appreciate the model of private enterprise. After college, it becomes very problematic to implement business ideas. A huge number of local universities graduates are unemployed since they believe that while in college jobs are waiting for them upon graduation. Gone are the days when our grandparents were taken out of schools and given senior positions in government and corporates.  In the modern world, you have to create jobs for yourself and others.

“The intention of every fish farmer is to breed a fish weighing about 1 Kg  or more in the shortest duration conceivable, normally between four and six  months if properly done.  One gets more profit if operates a market outlet to cut off  shylock middlemen; I can assure prospective farmers that the profit expected from fish sales from experience is about 40 to 50 percent above what was invested,” said a fish farmer in Murang’a, Kenya.

According to John Watanga, Aquaculture manager- Makindi Fish Farm, the challenges as is in every other business is that farmers find it tasking to acquire the fast growing species of fish but I am happy to inform you that here at Makindi Fish Farm we have high quality fish fingerlings and Juveniles you can start your aquaculture venture with. This catfish species grow faster and heavier than any other catfish species.

The first hurdles encountered by almost every new fish farmer while setting up their venture include technical knowhow. Farmers need proper hands-on training before venturing into the fish farming business if they don’t want to make the obvious mistakes that leads too huge loses that could have been avoided. Some people who started the business without the right species of fish or without hands-on training have already closed shop for lack of much needed experience or training. Some people started on a high note with huge investments and no research and training leading to huge loses hence  abandoning the venture with regrets because of mistake that could have been avoided with proper training and research. On the hand some of the successful fish farmers today started fish farming as a hobby and at the end of the day it became a successful enterprise due to the interest in learning and research. Fish farming has made many people billionaire after realizing the “slippery gold” that is hidden in the waters. Today they have built multibillion enterprises as we will see in the succeeding articles.

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