More can be reaped from fish farming by increasing the stocking size of fingerlings, a new study by Farm Africa and World Fish has revealed.
The study conducted between July last year and February this year shows that reduced production cycle and input costs make aquaculture a profitable business.
“Fish farmers need to look at aquaculture as being lucrative. With these evidence-based results, farmers will be able to make informed decisions. We don’t want to replicate the old quail story in the aquaculture value chain”, said Mr Sven Genschick, a researcher at WorldFish, during the launch.
The growth trial was conducted in Kisumu and at Karatina University to determine the optimal production methods for different tilapia varieties.
Performances of three varieties of Nile Tilapia under the application of local and imported feeds, in two different climatic conditions of warm and cold regions, were evaluated. Varieties from warm areas yielded better performance than in those from cooler ones.
The researchers found that the size of fingerlings at stocking had no significant effect on the feed conversion ratio (FCR) and the cost of production of one kilogramme of fish.
“In the cold areas, the growth of fingerlings was imperatively slower in terms of weight gain and the food conversion ratio. For fish farming in cooler areas to thrive, technologies such as greenhouses, larger fingerlings and selective breeding for improved cold tolerance, need to be developed,” the researchers said.
According to Mr Genschick, larger fingerlings and quality feed can be used to optimise aquaculture production in warmer areas of western Kenya. Fish farming is a major contributor to food security, nutrition, income generation and employment.
During the 2016/2017 fiscal year, the Fisheries Directorate procured 134,000 fingerlings at Sh2 million for restocking. Mr Arnoud Meijberg, team leader, Kenya Market-led Aquaculture Programme (KMAP), said the project was focusing on large-scale fish farmers from the region.
“We want to create a tipping point in the industry. Although the ‘eat more fish’ campaign has borne fruit, people need to study the market before venturing into fish farming. We are in talks with county governments on the need to provide bigger fingerlings at subsidized prices to increase production substantially,” said Mr Meijberg.
In both the warm and cold regions, the trial established that pelleted feeds should be used instead of mash, whose poor feed conversion ratio slows down fish growth and eats into farmers’ profits
Read More in Issue 40 of Smart Farmer Magazine