Kamuthanga has become the first fish farm in East Africa to receive the Eco Mark certification from the African Organization for Standardization (ARSO).
The Machakos-based fish farm which was established in 2013 received the certification in 2019.
This followed a partnership agreement with a Dutch-based non-governmental organization (NGO) dubbed FoodTechAfrica (FTA).
According to the farm manager, Joseph Odhiambo, productivity in the farm increased from 5 to 100 tonnes per year following the partnership.
“They came to Kamuthanga and looked at our system. The efficiency was low, so they decided to introduce a more refined RAS, allowing us to increase stocking densities to 135 fish per square metre,” he said.
With the area facing a water challenge, Odhiambo noted that they had to embrace use a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) using concrete tanks.
“It is a system that is used in areas with little water and limited space, but is capital intensive. The dirty water from cleaning the filter is used to grow plants, like tomatoes and spinach,” Odhiambo said.
While establishing the farm, Odhiambo pointed out availability of water as the main challenge that they had to deal with.
“People underestimate the amount of water that is required in fish farming and we had to drill a borehole. RAS are also energy- and capital-intensive,” he said.
Farming in the open was also a problem but with time they restructured and went into indoors fish farming.
“Because we can control factors such as the water temperature, indoor fish farming also improves our ability to meet the demand of our market – restaurants, hotels and supermarkets,” Odhiambo added.
The farm sources its inputs from Egypt as they are cheaper and best quality; for equipments, they import and buy locally sometimes.
“We are the only people who are able to supply live fish to Nairobi. Our biggest market is actually to supply live fish to the Chinese living in Kenya,” Odhiambo said.
Kamuthanga is ran by 13 permanent employees who include the hatchery manager, general manager, feeders, labourers to clean the filters and security.
“The plan is to double production to 200 tonnes per year by 2025. In a tank that right now we are producing 6,000 fish, we’d like to be able to produce 12,000. We also want to refine the system to reduce electricity consumption,” he shared.
Odhiambo advised farmers against stocking small fish into their ponds noting that it leads to low survival rates.
“To avoid that, you need a nursery. This can be a small cage within a big pond where you can monitor them intensively before you release them to the main pond,” he said.
As earlier reported on WoK, Anthony Ndeto, a fish farmer based in Mua Hills, Machakos County is the founder and owner of Kamuthanga Aqua Fish Farm.
Ndeto established the tilapia fish farm in 2015 on a five acre piece of land. The farm however did not begin operations until two years later.
“The technology we initially had was made up of local materials and ponds. We then realised we could not do much with it and imported Sh5 million equipment to build one of a kind aqua farm, which consists of hatcheries, incubators, brooders, fingerling nursery tanks, swimmer up systems and a grow-up,” Ndeto was quoted as saying by the Standard.
Kamuthanga farm employs two types of brooders, YY technology and local technology.
YY technology also known as Till Aqua is a fish imported from Netherlands and is purely a male species with YY chromosomes only.
The collected eggs are given to a female fish to hatch, and produces a fish product named XY, while the local technology.
Kamuthanga Aqua Fish Farm is the only farm in East and Central Africa certified by the Africa Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO).
It received the platinum certification on March 8, 2019, at an event held at Sarova Hotel in Nairobi.
The farm was also the first to receive the EcoMark Africa (EMA) label in Africa, in an event graced by ARSO President, Dr Eve Gadzikwa and Secretary General, Dr Hermogene Nsengiana.
Gadzikwa said the farm was recognised for propagating modern aqua fishing and operating ecologically with the environment.