KEY LIMITATIONS OF FISH FEEDS, FEED MANAGEMENT PRACTICES, AND OPPORTUNITIES IN KENYA’S AQUACULTURE ENTERPRISE|
Munguti, J; Obiero, K; Odame, H; Kirimi, J; Kyule, D; Ani, J & Liti, D
Profitability is key in fish farming, just as it is to any other enterprise. For the farmers to actualize high-profit margins, it is imperative to have access to well-balanced nutritive and cost-effective feeds, backed by sound on-farm feed management practices. This paper audits Kenya’s fish feed industry and the on-going on-farm feed management practices, and emerging opportunities for fish farmers. The development of fish feed quality standards has boosted the aquaculture sector in Kenya, providing them hope that farmers will access high quality fish feeds. Much of the fish feed currently being used in Kenya is produced on-farm or by small-scale fish feed manufacturers within the East African region, while a few are imported directly from overseas countries, notably Israel, Netherlands, Mauritius and Denmark. Fish feeds produced by small-scale manufacturers are not closely monitored by quality standard agencies and not surprising that a majority are of poor quality. The improvement in the quality of these feeds is likely to lead to increased productivity and profitability because they are cheaper and readily available to fish farmers, compared to imported fish feeds. Besides feed quality, feed management practices markedly impact both the growth and economic performance of fish production. Adopting appropriate feed management strategies, therefore, is instrumental in the maximization of fish production and economic returns. Research has demonstrated several strategies for best feed management practices, which have not hitherto, been adopted by fish farmers in Kenya. Farmers have mainly focused on the mode of delivery of feeds to the fish. Furthermore, promoting natural pond productivity and supplementary feeding is still a common practice in the East African region. Provision of species-specific feeds and targeting the nutritional requirements of the different life stages of fish is still a major issue, although some local companies like Unga Farm Care (EA) have come up with a size and species-specific feed for catfish such as Fugo catfish®. To improve access to such information, public-private partnerships should be developed and, programmes that utilize the local media platforms such as extension service outlets must also be encouraged. Feed quality checks can also be carried out amongst fish feed suppliers. Lastly, farmers should be trained in various fish feed aspects like formulation, transportation and storage to sustain a steady fish feed supply and save on associated feed costs.
Feeds; management practices; quality; aquaculture enterprises; tilapia; catfish