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Diversification boosts Kisumu farmer’s earnings

Instead of grumbling over cheap fish imports from China, Kisumu farmer takes advantage of a shortfall in local fish production to boost her income

Martline Waindi, a farmer in Kisumu town, has discovered how to kill two birds with one stone and is reaping big from diversified farming.

The farmer produces tilapia fish and keeps dairy cows on a 2.5-acre plot. Her farm sits on the outskirts of Kisumu town about 100 metres from Kisumu-Nairobi road. At the farm are two earthen ponds that host 4,000 tilapia fingerlings in each production cycle.

We visited the farm recently and she shared with us the secrets behind success of the agribusiness. “I ventured into farming in 2011, starting with fish farming before I later engaged in dairy farming,” she recalls.

Waindi says her passion for fish farming developed seven years ago when the practice was uncommon in the region since residents are predominantly used to fish from Lake Victoria.

And so realising that fish produced from the lake was on the decline, the farmer capitalised on the situation with the sole purpose of boosting her income. “Fish from the lake is getting depleted so fast, which propelled me to craft the idea to supplement the market deficit,” she says.

Waindi landed in fish farming under the government’s Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP). With the support of the State project, she constructed two ponds measuring 30m by 10m at a cost of about Sh50,000 which she then stocked with 1,000 tilapia fingerlings initially.

Dairy farming

She was also trained by officials from the programme on the process of growing and tending fish, which fortunately later proved productive from the onset of first harvest. Months later, the fish matured and were ready for sale.

The first harvest saw Waindi earn Sh70,000.  As the business picked up, she got the morale to earn better yields. “A bumper first harvest and lucrative income generated from the venture motivated me to continue,” she says.

Waindi ploughed the proceeds from her first project to increase fish production. In 2012, she acquired an Ayrshire cow from Kakamega county in a plan to diversify into dairy farming.

She also added a third pond for catfish. Each of the pond accommodates 2,000 fish stock at ago. To guarantee good returns, the farmer prefers keeping monosex fish, which she feeds twice a day with commercial feeds.

She also regularly pumps water from a nearby local river to fill up  the ponds. About 1,000 fish are harvested every eight months when the fish weigh two to 2.5kg. On average, the fish goes for between Sh200 and Sh300.

“I find ready market because there is an overwhelming local demand for fresh fish. We mainly sell fish at the farm-gate, but also deliver to a few hotels and local market places,” says Waindi, a former civil servant.

She says fish farming is a convenient enterprise, which many upcoming farmers should embrace because it is not as labour-intensive as other agricultural activities.

Years later, the dairy animals stock has grown progressively. Today, the farm has five dairy cows, comprising different breeds. Each of the animals is identified by name for easy record keeping. On a daily basis, the cows gives her about 25 litres of milk, a litre going for Sh60. “The cows require regular and proportional feeding to ensure quality milk production,” she advises.

Challenges

From attending several agricultural trainings, Waindi has gained know-how useful for the management of her ventures. She keeps records for each farm activity such as ponds stocking dates, daily milk production, feeds consumption rates, dates of calving and when artificial insemination services are administered on the cows.

Two employees assist her with chores. “The agribusiness is flourishing with both the projects running smoothly,” she says.

However, periodic water scarcity and frequent attacks on the fish by predators are some of the challenges she faces. “We are planning to dig a borehole to ensure sustainable water provision and whose quality we are sure of,” she says.

Her plan is to expand the fish production by adding more ponds. She is also exploring fingerling production and to double milk output in future.  “We don’t get enough milk locally. Farmers should tap into the potential to boost the supply of the commodity,” says Waindi.

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