This morning we got off to a late start but we were able to make it to the Funyula town council to meet with Mayor Ben and his staff. Ben told us of his desire to get his town pavilion and shopping area completed. Once it is completed the desire is to get street lighting to allow the shops to stay open later. Right now many smaller towns are unable to have many shops open after dark because it is just too dark.
After the meeting with his staff we met with the Upper Funyula Fish Farmers Association. The original association formed about 5 years ago and was not able to sustain itself. Ben has been spending time getting the farmers back together and today I heard their challenges. Like most else here in
lack of proper training is always on the top of the list. I told them that training is a continuous journey and that even among themselves they have a wealth of knowledge. One of the board members started his fish farm in 1961. Fifty years and still farming fish is quite an accomplishment. After all the concerns were aired which were pretty much the same that I heard when I was here a couple of months ago. I told them that the first step of getting back together and to start working to a common goal was a very good decision. Their concerns are still training, feed, fingerlings, security, and marketing. I spoke for a while and afterwards I asked them to pick one of their concerns and get with the rest of the group to decide what needs to be done. I asked them to pick one of them other then training since training is a given and should commence as soon as possible. They all agreed that feed costs and availability is their first concern. So within the next month they will meet and look into what it is going to take to provide their own feed. It was also stated that the fish grow best with high protein and tastes good with a good amount of starch. Their wish is to acquire some blood from the butcheries and dry it along with some rice bran to make fish food. Kenya
The other issues include the cost and availability of the fingerlings. Presently fingerlings can be as low as 3 Ksh per fingerling but not guaranteed. They also have issues with the type of species they are since they are not able to get certified fingerlings. There are over 150 farmers with upwards of a thousand ponds with many more dormant and available land to do more. These farmers have buying power but just need to be able to use it. Also we talked a little about security. The main security problem is not human but of the reptile variety. The monitor lizard loves the fish and it is illegal to kill them. This creates a problem for the farmer and proper fencing is needed to keep the predator out. To help keep the humans from fishing the ponds they should be well fed so when someone comes fishing the fish will not be hungry and bite the bait. Lastly the other issue of marketing was two fold. They have a local market but would really like to expand to make sure that they can get the proper prices for the fish. The other problem is the fact that they are on borrowed time to get the fish to market. Some sort of refrigeration or processing such as drying them so they will keep longer will help tremendously. One of the other areas that they are going to start right away is getting the ponds staged so that there isn’t a multitude of fish hitting the market on the same day. I told them if there are 1000 ponds there should only be up to 3 or 4 ponds going to market every day. The farmers also have to compete with the
Nile perch that come out of Lake Victoria but should not worry too much since Tilapia and Catfish are also popular among the populous. Lastly Pastor Ososo presented his plan of a savings and loan association among them to help with some of the larger operating expenses. Overall it was a great discussion and hopefully in the next couple of months I can get some reports on how they are doing and what we might be able to do to help them move forward.
After the meeting with the fish farmers we were off to visit the two orchards. Before we went to the plots we secured the timber for the posts from a local lumber guy. I was not able to get a great price and it is going to cost an extra forty bucks but we are running out of time and this stuff needs to get done. After the timber we visited Pastor Odongo’s plot and laid it out. After we finished we were off to visit Pastor Ososo’s plot and laid it out as well. The holes will be dug within a couple of days and will be ready for planting. After the two plots it was off to one of Mayor Ben’s colleagues to visit his shamba. He showed me his one (1) purple passion fruit vine that he had planted to create some shade area to sit under. He pretty much planted it right in the ground and let it go. No watering, no chemicals, no nothing. The vine was huge, looked very healthy, and free of bugs. After looking at this one vine I continue to wonder why we need to have so many chemicals if they grow so well by just putting them in the ground. I am also intrigued by the color of his soil. Too me it looks much darker then most soils I have seen.
Tomorrow early in the morning it is back to Kakamega to meet up with Hezron and we will be off to Kitale. Hopefully we can meet with Pastor Moses and his wife. After our meeting the road up the mountain might be dry enough for us to travel up to visit with Pastor Joseph and his wife. I only have a week left before I leave and I am so behind it isn’t funny. I got a call from a chemical representative today but missed it. I assume that it will now have to wait until Monday. I pray that I can accomplish this task to an acceptable level before I leave the country in ten days.
Take care and be blessed.