Aquaponics Research Center to benefit farmers in the country is set to be established at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and technology.
This follows the formalization of a tripartite partnership that is poised to revolutionize fish farming in Kiambu and other counties in the country, through a collaborative initiative that brings together JKUAT, Kiambu County Government and an American-based private firm, the Agrarian Group (Agrecco International).
According to the signed memorandum of understanding, Monday July 28, 2014, JKUAT and Agrecco, will establish an aquaponics program at the Varsity’s main campus in Juja; that will consist of both an aquaponics production facility as well as a research and development program.
The Aquaponics Centre to be established, will, among other things, serve as a top notch research and development platform to support improvements for Aquaponics systems and innovative technologies to boost Aquaponics production in the Kiambu and the rest of the region.
Speaking during the ceremony presided over by the Deputy Governor Hon. Gerald Githinji who represented Kiambu County Governor William Kabogo, Mr. Githinji said, “Kiambu County is endowed with high aquaculture potential owing to its multiplicity of climatic zones, making it possible to practice both cold and warm water fisheries.”
Githinji further revealed that “there are over 2500 fish farmers operating about 3000 fish ponds which cover an area of 825,000 sq. metres, with an average annual production of fish standing at 40,000 Kgs with an estimated value of Ksh. 12 million.”
The Deputy Governor added that JKUAT will particularly be instrumental in assisting the county government to address the challenge of youth unemployment owing to the University’s leadership role in entrepreneurial training, research as well as through the cottage industries.
The CEC in charge of Agriculture and Livestock Dr Monicah Waiganjo welcomed the partnership with JKUAT which she noted, will go a long way in enhancing the aquaculture potential in the county which has not been fully exploited.
Under the JKUAT/Kiambu County partnership, both parties will collaborate in exploiting agricultural potential and food security in Kiambu county, revival and upgrading of existing polytechnics, entrepreneurship and enterprise development, capacity building for effective service delivery among others.
The Co-President of Aggreco International Mr. Jason Schwartz, who was accompanied by Mary Haki Gichua, said it was an exciting moment for Agrecco to partner with JKUAT noting, “aquaponics is a vehicle to promote agriculture and social development” and JKUAT would play a critical role in training, research and offering solutions to aquaponics farmers in the region.
While welcoming the partnership, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Mabel Imbuga, underscored JKUAT’s readiness to work with the County Government of Kiambu and the Agrarian Group with the aim of unlocking the potential of Kenyan farmers, as well as assisting the youth and women across the counties to engage in gainful economic activities.
Prof Imbuga said, JKUAT as an institution that is driven by quality training, research and innovation, “has highly qualified engineers who have proven capacity to fabricate simple but cost effective technologies that could transform the County and contribute to poverty eradication, and economic empowerment of youth and women through wealth creation.
The VC cited the soap making machines fabricated by JKUAT at the Juja Polytechnic which she said, “has enabled them to make soap thus transforming their socio-economic fortunes.
Prof. Imbuga also noted that JKUAT had produced a significant number of innovations mainly in the areas of agriculture, engineering machinery, chemical and beauty products which if taken up and mass- produced, could change the ecology of livelihoods in Kenya.
The Vice Chancellor however said, JKUAT was not good in marketing, observing that the uptake of such technologies at the grassroots across the counties would greatly contribute to food security and economic empowerment.
She thus urged youths to take advantage of the highly marketable aluminium fabrications course that is currently offered at JKUAT in collaboration with Booths Extrusions Limited. “The skills they acquire will be applicable anywhere in the world,” she explained.
The VC also used the opportunity to brief the gathering on recent milestone developments at JKUAT including the establishment of the East African node of the Pan African University Institute of Basic Science, Innovation and Technology (PAUISTI); the setting up of the model Nairobi Industrial and Technology Park that will be replicated across the counties; and the forthcoming 20 Years Celebrations which the University is set to mark later this year.
Others who were present included: Kiambu County Secretary Fredrick Kitema, CEC incharge of Water, Environment and Natural Resources Esther Njuguna; while JKUAT was also represented at the function by Deputy Vice Chancellors Professors Esther Kahangi, Romanus Odhiambo, Victoria Ngumi; and Doctors Muikamba Kaibui, John Kinyuru and David Mburu.