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Fish farmers in Kenya enter the digital age

09 March 2016

Fish farmers in Kenya enter the digital age

Farm Africa is sending text messages to fish farmers in Kenya giving advice to help them run successful aqua shop businesses. With eighty-two per cent of Kenyans now owning a mobile phone, up from around one in ten in 2002, communicating by text message is a fast and easy way to get expert guidance to fish farmers out in the field where they need it.

Eighty per cent of fish consumed in Kenya comes from Lake Victoria and sixty per cent of households in the western part of the country are dependent on fish as a source protein. But pollution and overfishing in the lake have depleted fish stocks and caused prices to rise, making it unaffordable to many on low incomes who are already at risk of malnutrition.

Fish has an important role in fighting hunger and malnutrition as it provides a great source of proteins, healthy fats, and essential nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium and zinc.

The Kenyan government has responded to fish stock problems in Lake Victoria by building around 48,000 fish ponds and promoting fish farming as a good source of food and income, making it one of the fastest-growing segments of agriculture. However, after farmers received government help with the initial investment and inputs for the first season, many struggled to carry on as they didn’t have ongoing access to the technical advice, market links and high quality inputs they needed to run a thriving pond.

Farm Africa has stepped in to assist more than 7,500 small business farmers, around half of whom are women, to establish and run profitable and sustainable aqua shops. This includes sending text messages which cover everything from helpful tips on what to feed fish and how to store feed to the number of fingerlings the average pond should contain.

Through the digital platform on mobile phones, Farm Africa is also selling farmers fish through offers and bids. A total of 253 fish traders are registered on the platform and get offers on their phones from fish farmers, such as quantity of fish, price per kg, farmer location and contact details. Traders will then call farmers to buy their product.

Farm Africa is helping fish farmers in a range of other ways, including setting up cooperatives and supporting them with access to credit, quality feed and equipment, as well as guidance on how to connect with markets better. Farm Africa has also partnered with 56 agro dealers in Western Kenya to establish aqua shops selling fish inputs such as feeds, fingerlings, nets and lime. One challenge farmers’ face is sourcing high quality fish feed so Farm Africa helps ensure quality by randomly sampling feed to test at a government research centre.

In addition, the charity has trained young people from fish farming communities and linked them to aqua shops. These youth offer extension services to farmers and mobilize them to buy inputs, bringing business to the agro dealers on commission basis.

Since the aqua shop project began in 2011 farmers have seen an average sixty-three percent increase in their income and productivity has grown by fifty-four percent.

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Notes to Editor: 

For the Farm Africa press office please contact Tara Carey:

T: 020 7841 5156

M: 07971 556340

E: Tarac@farmafrica.org

More photographs are available upon request.

 

About Farm Africa: 

Farm Africa supports farmers living at subsistence level and constantly at risk of crop failure, to build food and income security so that they can grow a better and reliable future. We provides solutions before hunger becomes an emergency, investing in farmers to give them the tools and skills they need to feed their families.

This includes training farmers in how to market and sell what they farm so they can become more commercial, adding value to surpluses to increase their income. By focusing on ‘climate-resilient’ agricultural and forestry techniques, building market links and adding value to production, Farm Africa unleashes the entrepreneurial abilities of the farmers and rural communities they work with.

For more information about Farm Africa please visit www.farmafrica.org or follow us on Twitter or Facebook