Reech Self Help Group in Nakuru has received an ice flakes making machine from the Government, making it easier to preserve perishable fish products they deal in.
The off-grid ice flakes-making machine that has been installed at Top Market, in partnership with the national government’s Agriculture Sector Development Support Programme II (ASDSP), has seen them increase their stocks to 1, 200kgs a day up from less than 1, 000 that they used to stock previously.
“We have struggled with this business as we used to lose about 50kgs of fish everyday occasioning us Sh15, 000 deficit in daily sales. Each time we failed to clear our stocks, we would rush to get the ice flakes only to find a long queue or no flakes at all, due to the high demand,” noted Beatrice Ngolobe, the Chair of the group.
She noted that since the delivery of the machine in October 2023, the group has started realizing profits, leaving them with savings that they intend to spend on freezers and other cold storage facilities in future.
“The demand for ice flakes was so high especially during the dry season as we competed with ice-cream and soda vendors who depend on one producer, here in town. We now have a bank account where we save our profits that now stand at Sh360, 000, up from Sh200, 000,” added Pauline Anyango, a member of the group.
ASDSP, through the county government of Nakuru, offers extension services to farmers and traders in the pyrethrum, dairy and fish value chains. Through capacity building and extension of grants to groups, the Swedish Government-funded programme seeks to unblock barriers that hinder commercialization of Agricultural activities while affording farmers and traders profitable ventures.
The second phase of ASDSP has seen Reech Self Help group women benefit from training in fish handling, fish sales, value addition and managing hygiene standards when handling fish.
“Fish is very delicate and has a very short shelf life, that’s why many traders here opted to sell their fish dried or had to deep fry over and over to keep them fresh, which is still not so hygienic,” regretted Anyango, a member of the group.
Nakuru County Chief Officer for Agriculture, Newtom Mwaura, lauded the project urging traders to join hands in ensuring they reap more from the programmes geared towards economic growth.
“We have foreseen a sustainability of the project funded by the ASDSP beyond the programme owing to the solid base the programme afforded the groups before supply of the machine. The County government will also continue supporting such initiatives to ensure the traders benefit.
Mwaura, added that over 1.05 billion people among the rural and urban poor, globally, lack access to cooling facilities, which is essential to increasing the shelf life of most agricultural produce.
“Therefore, it is evident that the fisheries resources of Nakuru County underpin the livelihoods of many residents in terms of food and employment directly and indirectly through allied industries and support services,” said Mr. Mwaura.
Mwaura emphasized the importance of safe and regulated fishing practices, noting that the County was keen on supporting the residents investing in the value chain.
Nakuru County’s Lake Naivasha is a natural fisheries resource, which contributes to over 27 per cent of the annual fish production by weight, producing about 8,000 metric tons of fish annually and earning the fishers over Sh700 million, according to the data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
This story was first published by Kenya News Agency (KNA)