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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Strengthening institutional capacity for participatory action research in sustainable aquaculture

PI: Joyce Gichiku Maina (University of Nairobi)
U.S. Partner: Irene Kimaru (St. John Fisher College)
Project Dates: July 2013 to June 2016

2-219 Team showing farmer how to read PH meter
The team demonstrates a PH meter to a local fish fa (Photo courtesy Dr. Maina)

The overall objective of this project is 
to use the Action Research paradigm to develop, validate and disseminate new technologies to enhance development and sustainability of a vibrant fish farming sector in in Kenya. Four main objectives are involved. The first is to build capacity for Participatory Action Research among the selected graduate students and teaching staff in the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Nairobi and other participating institutions. Some of the students and staff will subsequently be used in carrying out research in fish farming in Kenya. The second objective is to do a baseline survey to establish the main socioeconomic, gender, and technological factors that influence fish farming. This will be done using a semi-structured questionnaire targeting the main actors in the farmed fish value chain. The third objective is to develop and validate models for integrating fish farming into crop and livestock farming. In this component of the project, models for efficient use of water for crop irrigation and rice farming and use of livestock manures as fertilizers for fish ponds will be evaluated. The fourth objective involves evaluating the environmental effects of fish farming on the water systems. This part of the research will be done in collaboration with the U.S. partner, leveraging her expertise in environmental chemistry. Water will be collected from fish ponds and adjacent water bodies and analyzed for chemical pollutants at different seasons of the year. Farmed fish will also be evaluated for their safety for human consumption by testing them for residual pesticides and other chemicals.
The project is expected to strengthen a core team of researchers and train graduate students in participatory action research. The project will also evaluate the reasons that led to failure of past fish farming projects that were mainly funded by development partners. This will be done for purposes of sustainability of this project and future projects. Appropriate exit strategies will be evaluated and documented and information will be shared with the relevant authorities. As for other development impacts, the project will continuously engage stakeholders in the fish aquaculture value chain, particularly focusing on women and youth, who have been disadvantages in the allocation of resources in the past. The formation of a multi-stakeholder platform will be facilitated so that participants can more easily share information and experiences useful for upgrading the value chain. New linkages will be also be created in the region by helping selected stakeholders to take part in regional initiatives.
Summary of Recent Activities

Kenya Partnership Picture B
An example of a Kenyan fish farm (Photo courtesy Dr. Maina)

During the summer, Dr. Maina and her colleagues conducted a series of data gathering excursions as well as multiple workshops for sustainable aquaculture. The team evaluated the quality of water used in fish farming, determined the amount and types of pollutants in the water, and studied the pathology of fish parasites associated with the fish farms. This data gathering was conducted based on a preliminary visit on July 24, 2014 when the team met with government officials including county fisheries officers, and the Minister for Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries and mapped out the most efficient areas for intervention.

On July 27 and August 2, the team trained enumerators to conduct surveys to gather information on fish farming practices in Nyeri County in order to determine areas of intervention through training and research. 118 fish were sampled by four graduate students who also used the time to practice engaging farmers in the area. A follow up survey was conducted between August 10 and 13 in which both fish and water samples were collected. All samples were analyzed for pesticides, herbicides, other pollutants and parasites.

The team, led by graduate student Anne Chepkoech, conducted a survey to assess food safety issues of the aquaculture value chain. The results showed a distinct lack of regulation and understanding of fish related issues concerning habitat, health, and market standards. The team formulated research and training interventions on food safety aspects along the farmed fish value chain. Baseline data was collected using questionnaires, personal interviews and focus group discussions among 130 fish farmers, 25 fish retailers, three feed manufacturers, and three fish processors in Kisumu County between July 28 and August 2, 2014.

The project team conducted a two day training on August 24 for hatchery managers in Kisumu County. The event was facilitated by Paul Orina, a Senior Fisheries Officer at the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute who is also a collaborator on this project. A total of 10 fish hatchery managers were trained. Ten fish hatchery managers drawn from Kisumu County were trained in production and water management strategies. A second training is scheduled for the end of October for students on data management.

In the coming months, the team will continue with project work focusing on the following areas: the use of molecular tools to identify catfish strains most suitable for harvesting in Kenya, advising fish hatchery managers based on the evaluation of the levels of inbreeding in tilapia, the evaluation of factors influencing profitability of fish farming, and the evaluation of food safety issues along the farmed fish value chain.
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