Farmer support

Aller Aqua and IDH partner for the commercialization of out-grower tilapia production in Kenya

With Aller Aqua’s commitment to the development of aquaculture in Africa, its investment in key collaborations for the growth of Aquaculture in East Africa, particularly Kenya is understandable.

While Aquaculture is a cultural way of life across East Africa, especially in the Lake Victoria region, the industry had not seen high growth until recent years. Lake Victoria which cuts across 3 countries in the region - Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania is a natural home to the Nile Tilapia. In Kenya, the Migori and Homabay region is home to more than 3,000 smallholder fish farmers for whom tilapia production has been a source of livelihood. Despite the presence of the largest lake in Africa and a relatively high number of farmers, Kenya's aquaculture industry produces only 16% of the country’s freshwater fish consumption, whereas the global average was 49.2% in 2020. This is a more dire figure when considering that Kenya today only consumes 5.5kg of fish per capita whereas global per capita consumption is 21.5kg/person.

Today, the fish farmers in Kenya most commonly produce tilapia fish which accounts for about 75%, and the African catfish, contributing about 21% of aquaculture production. Smallholder production ranges from 2 – 2.5MT fish per year, reared extensively or semi-intensively in earthen ponds, liner ponds, or local cages immersed in the Lake and other water bodies.

Although the smallholder farmers remain a vibrant part of the industry, their production capacity has been negatively impacted over the years. For Kenya, the FAO projects that by 2030, aquaculture production must reach about 550,000MT tonnes, if it is to reach a 10kg per capita consumption level. While the country today produces about 20,000 MT tonnes, there is huge optimism for the growth of the aquaculture industry in Kenya.

To achieve these lofty heights, the challenges of the fish farmers in the country must be strategically addressed, and a radical commitment to the improvement of their farming practices be adopted.

Aller Aqua has been consistently invested in the development of sustainable aquaculture in Africa, and more particularly in the East African region. This has been well demonstrated in our commitment to technical knowledge sharing, high-quality fish feeds, and extension support provided to farmers in the region over the years. As a key player in the growth of aquaculture in the region, Aller Aqua has provided high-quality fish feeds, alongside farmer support for a technical and commercial approach to smallholder farming to promote sustainability and profitable growth.

In Kenya, we have now partnered with IDH and a local out-grower, Bayrise Farms, to improve and enhance our engagement with smallholder farmers. IDH seeks to transform markets for sustainable trade through collaborative innovation that enables the creation of value for people and the planet. IDH mobilizes support to test innovative business models designed to create better jobs, incomes, environment, and equality.

The project in Kenya is a partnership for commercialization of the out-grower model for tilapia production. The project aims to improve the aquaculture businesses of the smallholder fish farmers by availing high-quality inputs (feed, fingerlings, and finance), up-skill the farmers through field school training, and providing off-taker services to guarantee a market for their fish.

The main objective of the project is to promote entrepreneurship and sustainable aquaculture by implementing out-grower models and aqua hubs as viable business models among smallholder farmers.

The 3-year project will cover two lake-side counties of Migori and Homabay. On the ground, the project hires a project team composed of a project manager and ten extension officers. The team works with more than 400 smallholder fish farmers organized into ten field aquaculture schools, managed, and administrated by an extension officer.

At inception, a baseline study was conducted in the two counties and a total of 1,230 farmers were visited and interviewed. With further profiling, about 502 farmers were shortlisted for the project, from which about 409 have commenced.

For these farmers, Aller Aqua will provide weekly technical training and guidance through the extension officers in each field aquaculture school. They will also do regular farm visits to ensure adherence to best aquaculture practices at the farm level. Aller Aqua will also directly provide the farmers with high-quality tilapia fish feeds – Aller Til Pro - to enable farmers to optimize their fish production process.

Bayrise farms will provide good quality fish fingerlings at the beginning of the production cycle and will off-take the fish at table sizes guaranteeing market access for the farmers.

The project will utilize "SaSAqua" – a digital app developed as a connecting platform to link aquaculture value chain nodes with participants of the project.

The project manager will oversee monitoring and evaluation and has been provided with tools to measure and document farm-level progress. Daily observation data will be reported through the extension officers’ network to the Project manager.

Critical success factors will include, a more efficient and shorter production cycle, improved FCR, farm management, number of jobs created, and harvest sold.

By establishing this model, the project aims to create income-generating opportunities, enhance the resilience of local communities, and improve the overall aquaculture sector in the region.

The implementation of the project will create opportunities for the following:

Capacity Building & Knowledge Sharing:

By including training programs and capacity-building initiatives in the project, Aller Aqua empowers farmers with the skills needed to manage their operations efficiently. Kenyan farmers can also collaborate with experts, researchers, and experienced individuals or organizations, who are partners, enabling them to gain valuable insights, and knowledge, and apply best practices in the field, leading to improved production efficiency and sustainability.

Social and Community Development:

The project partnerships contribute to the development of social networks within the aquaculture community in the region. It fosters a sense of solidarity, shared learning, and mutual support among farmers, ultimately contributing to the overall development of the aquaculture sector in Kenya and East Africa.

Technology Transfer:

The project will provide a platform for the transfer of modern and innovative aquaculture technologies. Access to advanced equipment, methodologies, and breeding techniques will enhance productivity and profitability for Kenyan farmers.

Market Access and Distribution:

The project will help farmers, by facilitating access to larger markets and distribution networks. By collaborating with established entities such as Bayrise Farms which acts as an off taker of fish, farmers can increase their reach, find new buyers, and potentially secure better prices for their products.

Our sales manager Africa, Adrian Constantin who oversees the project team reiterates: “We are excited to kick-start the project together with IDH and Bayrise and to continue our investment into the development of sustainable aquaculture in Africa. As we proceed in this initiative, we believe we can create an environment that enhances the overall resilience, productivity, and sustainability of the aquaculture sector through collaboration, knowledge sharing, and resource exchange amongst farmers and our development partners.”

We are excited about the future of the project and the extensive impact it will create in the development of aquaculture particularly in Kenya, and Eastern Africa in general.