It is generally believed those working in the transport sector cannot create time to venture in any other business. The lot includes passenger vehicle drivers, touts and riders of motor cycle or bicycle taxis (boda boda).
But a boda boda group in Bondo sub County, Siaya County, has defied the stereotype to succeed in fish farming, by a method of placing fish cages at Utonga beach, on the shores of Lake Victoria.
“Instead of the stereotype dissuading us, it motivated us to create time and interest in the new venture,” said Dishon Omondi, the chairperson of Kamenga Boda Boda Group of West Sakwa Location, with 16 members.
The group’s fish farming is sponsored by the national government’s Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP), supported by the World Bank.
KCSAP through the area Community Driven Development Committee, organized meetings and training on fish farming for Kamenga, from which the members appreciated the need for climate smart practices, alternative income, and contribution to food and nutrition security. Cage fish farming was climate-smart because it prevents over fishing in lakes and oceans, which contributes to the effects of climate change.
“Our members understood the need for an alternative because income from boda boda was unpredictable and reducing, because of new entrants annually,” said the chairperson.
Omondi said the members easily accepted cage fish farming, as it took only about two hours of each one’s boda boda time per week, because they work in turns to feed the fish, and re-position the cages if drifted by waves. Harvesting mature fish was also easy because of their confinement. This was unlike conventional fishing using boats and nets that took many hours and was labour intensive.
Siaya County KCSAP coordinator, Mr. Willis Atiang’, said in November 2020 the project gave the group two fish cages, 10,000 fish fingerlings and 48 bags of fish feeds, of 50 kg each, all worth sh. 700,000.
“Eight months later, it was pleasant surprise for us to harvest tilapia weighing in total 340 kg, of which we sold at sh. 100,000,” Omondi said.
He said sh.70,000 was re-invested in the business, from which the second harvest got 435 kg of fish, sold at sh.130,000 with a profit of sh. 60,000. Harvests are done at intervals of eight months.
The group chairperson said they save part of their profit with a plan to buy more cages and freezers to preserve fish at their banda, at the beach front. Part of the preserved fish also provides protein for their families, hence meeting the objective of contribution to food and nutrition security. On the infamy of associating boda boda riders with criminal activities, Omondi said it was mainly because of much idle time, and therefore it would be a remedy if they engaged in other gainful activities.
Mr. Atiang’ the coordinator, said if the group maintains the current focus and concerted efforts, then the business will sustain itself when the project period ends at the end of this year.
Meshack Okinyi, the group treasurer, said their main markets for fish are the beach side hotels, hospitals and traders.
Threat of predators that penetrate the cage nets to eat fish and lack of deep freezers to preserve fish, were challenges to the business, he said.
The coordinator, Kamenge, was one of the 264 groups across Siaya County that have received support from KCSAP to practice climate smart farming of various kinds.
The group members have proved that boda boda riders can succeed in a business different from transporting goods and passengers.