Factors influencing Fish production in Mwea Division of Kirinyaga county, Kenya
Maina, Joyce G
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Fish contribute 7 billion shillings to the Kenyan economy annually and fish farming requires relatively light labour hence does not increase the work-load of burdened rural women. Fish processing, value addition and marketing also provide excellent opportunities for the development of Public-Private partnerships. Government intervention in fish farming started in 1921 when the colonial government introduced trout, common carp and black bass into the country. Despite many government initiatives, fish farming has not been fully integrated with other farming systems and its contribution to the national economy is small. A study was done to characterize fish farming practices in Mwea Division of Kirinyaga County and to determine the social-economic and technological factors which had the greatest influence on fish production . Specific objectives of the study were to evaluate how social-economic, gender, and technological factors influenced fish production, and to explore the preliminary influence of the Economic Stimulus programme (ESP) on fish farming practices and production in Mwea Division. Results showed that over 72% of fish farmers in the division were recruited and funded through the Economic Stimulus Programme. Gender had a significant (P < 0.05) influence on fish management practices. Over 50% of farmers stocked mixed sex tilapia in monoculture and 68% of them used organic manures to fertilize their ponds. Fish were harvested from 9 to 12 months after stocking and the average weights of the harvested fish were low (270 grams). Although the Government contracted feed millers to supply fish feeds containing 26% protein, the analyzed protein content of fish feeds sampled ranged between 13 to 19.8% of diet, and their prices were 35 to 59% higher than those of other non-ruminant animals. Farmers funded through the Economic Stimulus Programme had larger ponds and stocked and harvested more fish than self funded farmers while the latter group fertilized and drained their ponds more frequently. They also took less time to harvest (7.6 compared to 9.2 months) and harvested heavier fish (0.5 kg) than farmers under the ESP programme (0.27 kg). Most of the fish harvested were sold in the farm to neighbours, friends and family. The findings of this study are useful to policy makers, Ministry of Fisheries Development, Researchers and other stake-holders in Agriculture and Development sectors.