October 31, 2019
Feed costs uncompetitive in Kenya, feed producer says
Costly feed and lack of quality fingerlings have been identified as key obstacles hindering fish farming in Kenya, Unga Group Limited managing director Nick Hutchison said at the launch of a new feed product last week, The Star reported.
Hutchison highlighted the value of fish farming saying it can boost food security but regretted that without affordable feed, farmers opt to abandon the economic activity and venture in other activities with low returns.
He cited the numerous taxes imposed on food production as part of the problem resulting in expensive feed. This has led Kenya to fall behind neighbouring countries whose animal and fish feed are cheaper.
Hutchison was speaking at Sagana Fisheries on Friday when his company launched a new feed product for catfish. He urged the government to remove non-tariff barriers from the food production chain to help farmers increase yields and get better returns.
According to Hutchison, animal and fish feed producers have had to source for raw materials from other countries due to the exorbitant prices of locally available materials.
He suggested that Kenya can allow the production of genetically-modified foods to reduce food costs saying the country has several technical agencies that can control production of genetically modified crops.
Most of the fish currently consumed in Central Kenya is sourced from Lake Victoria and Tanzania, leading to high prices. Unga Group, in partnership with Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), therefore came up with the new feed to boost production of catfish.
Head of KMFRI Centre in Sagana Domitilla Kyule said the new feed will boost the growth of catfish, which does well in the Central region. She noted that they have done crossbreeding of catfish from the country with others from Holland and Indonesia to produce a better breed that matures within a short period.
“We now have generation three of catfish variety, which we recommend to farmers as the variety matures fast into a big size,” Dr. Kyule said.
She added they will continue engaging farmers and providing them with technical knowhow to boost fishing. "We can't rely on fish from lakes and oceans as this is coming to extinct. The way to go is to support aquaculture and enable farmers to produce fish in their farms."
Farmers can reap a lot from catfish which can be used to make sausages, samosa, burgers or any other product, she said.