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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 April 2017

2-219 Catching Fish
The team assists in harvesting local fish for examination (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
This PEER project covered various aspects of the farmed fish value chain during the three years. Dr. Maina reports that this project got interesting findings and discussions are ongoing with stakeholders on the action to be taken.

The study on profitability of fish farming showed that farmed fish had very short value chains and because of this, fish farmers were also engaged in other enterprises. Fish farmers with 3 or more ponds consistently made profits. Catfish was the most profitable cultured fish and black clay soil sites were the best for fish farming. The study recommended that the county should promote large scale fish farming and fish farming should be integrated with other enterprises. In addition fish farming should only be promoted in areas that have the most potential.

The presence of ecto and endo parasites in farmed fish in Nyeri and the prevalence among different species and production methods has been communicated to stakeholders. A group was formed consisting of University of Nairobi and other stakeholders in Nyeri to continue this discussion and discuss ways of increasing fish productivity to feed into the new Wamagana Fish processing factory in Nyeri. Their evaluation of feed resources in Nyeri led to Othaya feed millers improving the fish feeds that they were supplying to farmers. In their analyses, they found out that some of the raw materials they were using were of low nutritional quality. They also analyzed their fish feed and it had 14% crude protein which was very low. After working with the millers to improve their feeds, the last sample they sent to the PI’s lab had 28% of protein level. They used their data to improve the way they made their feeds and will soon be certified by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

Using molecular techniques, Dr. Maina reports that they found that there is very little variation among brood stock in some of the hatcheries that supply fingerlings to farmers. They have presented papers on this in Nyeri and at the Animal Production Society in Eldoret in April 2017. The way forward is that they have scheduled a presentation with the Aquaculture Round Table where they shall have discussions with policy makers. They also found that there is very little variation among catfish in Lake Naivasha. Their studies showed that the catfish found in that lake may have all come from one pair. They communicated this but have since been requested to do more studies and increase the number of sampling sites.

2-219 Water Assessment
Dr. Maina and Paul Wesonga (PhD student) assessing water levels in a fish pond (Photo courtesy Dr. Maina)

In Kibwezi, the PI and her team did a study on the profitability of fish farming when compared to other enterprises in the region. The student who did that work presented his findings and recommendations to the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and also to the Principal Secretary in charge of State Department of Fisheries and the Blue Economy. He has been nominated as a board member for the State Department of Fisheries and Blue Economy. In addition, he has received grant from another project to train farmers in 7 Counties in Kenya.

In Migori, they found extremely high levels of mercury in fish and sediments collected in gold mining and adjacent areas. They have requested for money under PEER project cycle 6 to continue with this work and determine the extent of environmental contamination with mercury and the effects on vulnerable populations.

Through this PEER project; capacity has been built among researchers including graduate students and their supervisors on participatory research. This capacity has also been built among researchers at the Kenya marine and Fisheries Research Institute and the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Institution. Increasingly more researchers are using participatory methods in their research than was the case before the PEER project. -2 PhD students were trained who will graduate this year, 4 Masters students were trained who will also graduate this year.

Capacity has also been built among farmers, hatchery managers and feed millers on best practices. Lastly, networks and collaborations have been established.