After launching the very first Best Fish Farmer Competition in 2021, Lattice and Larive International decided to build on the momentum and organize a second competition in March 2023. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

 

More than 600 fish farmers, students and graduates joined the challenges and submitted their applications for this year’s competition. The competition served as a prelude to the main event, which honoured the winners and, more crucially, recognized the expertise of Kenyan fish farmers, educated them on best practices and raised awareness of the potential opportunities in the local aquaculture value chain for the public and private sector.

 

On March 28th 2023, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Kenya, together with valuable key players in the aquaculture sector awarded the best aquaculture students and best fish farmers of Kenya. The 2023 Best Fish Farmer Award Ceremony was attended by a cross-section of the sector, including fish farmers, students, teachers, extension workers, NGOs, local media, and representatives from both private and public institutions, who journeyed to Kisumu. The award ceremony was attended by more than 130 individuals, while an additional 261 guests participated in the proceedings via the live stream platform.

From left to right: Charity Mbithe (Lattice), John Erick (Lattice), George Muga (winner of 2021),
Racha Saksouk (Lattice), Audrey Nyambura (Tunga Nutrition) during the panel discussion.

 

The aquaculture sector in East Africa has great potential. The main reasons are the growing demand for locally produced fish, population growth and declining supply from the fisheries sector. Also, local production will reduce dependency on imports and shorten the value chain and associated footprint. For this reason, the Kenyan government has identified aquaculture as a key sector for economic growth and food security and has put in place policies and incentives to encourage more people to invest in fish farming. However, the aquaculture sector in Kenya is yet to unlock its full potential as it lacks proven examples, best practices, practical knowledge and skills, and technology and quality inputs. Moreover, fish farming is considered high-risk and practical skills and expertise are key mitigating measures.

 

The lack of skilled human capital is a major barrier to the development of the aquaculture sector. To address this, a consortium of Dutch and East African aquaculture companies established the Aquaculture Academy through a Public-Private Partnership, with support from the Dutch government and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Kenya. The Aquaculture Academy provides comprehensive training to aspiring “aquapreneurs” and empowers them to run sustainable and profitable businesses, drive economic prosperity, and inspire others to become fish farmers. This initiative is particularly important in East Africa, where the shortage of skilled human capital hinders growth and development in the industry.

 

The previous Best Fish Farmer Competition centred around the launch of the Aquaculture Academy. This year the theme of the Best Fish Farmer Competition focused on empowering young individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in fish farming. Furthermore, the competition aimed to recognize and celebrate innovation in the industry. The competition offered training, mentorship, and internship opportunities to passionate and interested young professionals in the field of aquaculture. Through a focus on knowledge and knowledge transfer, the event provided an exceptional setting for them to establish professional connections and expand their network.

During the competition and the associated event, all participants and attendants were provided with free access to online aquaculture courses at www.howtodoaquaculture.com. The platform consists of digital training courses, specifically designed for tilapia and catfish farming in East Africa. Through a combination of visuals and quizzes, farmers can learn about local and international best practices and earn certificates in a wide range of topics, varying from genetics to farm and feed management.

The competition

The distinguished panel of judges, comprised of Dave Okech (AquaRech), Jimmy Deylon (Gatsby Africa), Audrey Nyambura (Tunga Nutrition), George Muga (last year’s winner), and Racha Saksouk (Lattice), meticulously evaluated all the 611 applicants based on predefined criteria and identified the top 5 fish farmers and top 4 aquaculture students. At the event, both the in-person and online audiences were invited to vote for the ultimate winner from among the finalists. All the finalists were awarded prizes, while the winner received the following range of benefits: high-quality feed donated by Tunga Nutrition, free training opportunities for farmworkers at the Aquaculture Academy, on-site training sessions, an AquaCare trial comprising of water quality test kits and on-site trial support, as well as a consultation session with a technical expert from Lattice for customized advice. The prizes were awarded by Mr. Bart Pauwels, the Agricultural Counsellor for Kenya at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and Miss Racha Saksouk, Technical Project Manager at Lattice, during the event.

 

The winners of the competition and the videos of the five finalists:

 

The four finalists in the category of aquacultural students:

  • 1st prize winner: Swabrine Alouch
  • 2nd prize winner: Daniel Karisa
  • 3rd prize winner: Daniel Wafula
  • 4th prize winner: Damari Rose
From left to right: Racha Saksouk (Lattice), Ronald (a colleague of Vincent Oduor),
Swabrine Alouch, Bart Pauwels (Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands).

Ronald (a colleague of Vincent), on behalf of the winner Vincent Oduor: “Apart from the benefits, the competition keeps you on your toes to know where you are. The competition really opened our eyes to try to find out and do more work so we will be in the competition with other farmers. Seeing other farmers and what they do inspires us to do and improve more and more.“

 

Please visit http://aquacultureacademy.co.ke/ for more details regarding the competition, training and other enquiries. Interested individuals can register for the online courses at www.howtodoaquaculture.com.

 

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