George Muga is a trained accountant and has for many years worked for international organizations that have a presence in Kenya.
He worked for the Red Cross Society of Kenya in their Mombasa regional offices for the better part of his life since he graduated after majoring in accounting.
“I kept watching our landlord’s rain-harvested fish pond and developed an interest in doing the business and ended up resigning from my employer,” Muga told Xinhua in his farm in Kendu Bay, Homa Bay County, in western Kenya.
Using water from river Awach Kibuon, Muga has ended up improvising fish farming by adopting solar use in providing light, closed circuit television (CCTV) and circulating water within his 32 fish ponds.
When Muga started his farming business in 2000, he dug a pond where he started keeping tilapia, with water from his house and that of his mother’s roof catchment.
“Unfortunately, the tilapia did not do well as it was very sunny and my home is 500 km away from the river,” he said.
Muga later turned to keeping mudfish and brought 200 pieces until officials from the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Institute (KEMFRI) came down to buy them for a mudfish mass production project that was starting in Sagana, central Kenya.
“The KEMFRI team bought all the fishes at 200 shillings (2 U.S. dollars) each, totaling 400 dollars. This amount was like a loan,” he said.
Since then, Muga has seen fishing as a serious business venture and not merely a hobby, searching for land next to a river.
He resigned from formal employment, invested in additional ponds, and embarked on selling fingerlings, in addition to grown fish for consumption.
Keeping fish in ponds is not new in Homa Bay County where 300 farmers have been engaged in fish farming.
Muga’s case is unique because he uses solar technology to keep water flowing in his hatcheries and to keep away potential thieves.
He bought his first solar-driven water pump online from China and moved on to invest further in solar technology to cut electricity bills.
“The ponds and hatcheries are run daily on solar energy that has contributed to timely sales to our clients,” Muga said.
As he expands his operation, hires more people and earns more money, Muga has acquired more land to raise output of fish.
He now serves as chairman of the Homa Bay County Fish Farmers Association, and has engaged the county government to introduce policies friendly to fish farming.
Muga said there are plans to introduce cage farming on Lake Victoria.
Micheni Ntiba, principal secretary for fisheries and blue economy in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, said the government has developed policies to promote fish farming.
“We are supporting fish farmers, especially in regions not known to have fish consumers, to bridge the gap since captured fish is not enough for the population,” Ntiba said.
The government will promote aquaculture to help meet the demand for fish, which stands at 500,000 metric tons, against the current production of 167,000 tons. Enditem