The adage, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime rings true for Airstrip Blessing Youth Group, which is based in Naivasha, Nakuru County.
The group engages in fishing at Lake Naivasha, a fresh water body, and sells the produce in the town and beyond.
But that is not all, they also produce other products that include fishing nets and gears, baits like snails and worms and floaters.
At their premises in Karagita village in Naivasha, one finds the youth busy making the nets and fitting on them floaters and sinkers.
“We registered as a self-help group in 2017. We are 16 members, 12 women and four men. Our business involves culturing, processing, preserving, storing, transporting and marketing raw and value-added fish, among other products,” says David Agoga, a member of the group.
Every day, when they venture into the lake, they catch at least 90kg of fish that include common carp, catfish and tilapia.
“We supply the fish to local customers, who include households, traders who sell at markets and even corporates like hotels,” says Agoga.
They price their products, in particular fish, according to their sizes and how it is sold, that is raw or value added through smoking, drying or frying.
“We catch fish of sizes 3, 3.5,4 and 4.5 and sell at Sh180 within and out of Nakuru County. We reach some 50 customers, some who buy in bulk,” notes Agoga, adding they have received funding and training on marketing and record-keeping through Vijabiz Project, which supports the youth.
For fried fish, they sell the bigger ones Sh320 each; 40 per cent of this fish is sold directly to customers. They also grind some of the fish to serve as chicken feeds, make smokies, fillet and sausage.
On the other hand, fishing net with floaters and sinkers go for Sh950, while each floater and sinker on their own go for Sh5 while a cup of bait at Sh50.
“We use various channels to market our products which include WhatsApp groups, word of mouth and we also sell online. The latter is so easy and encouraging as we are able to exchange with a customer the type and size of fish we have or they want, the price and then they place orders and we deliver,” explains Jane Nzilani, a member.
But it is not all rosy, Covid-19 has disrupted business for them. “Some of our dedicated customers quit fish mongering or sale due to tough economic times. We have managed to look for new customers but they are still not reliable due to economic challenges,” he says.
The changing climatic conditions also pose challenges to their business.
“During the cold season, production of fish goes down as most fish goes deeper making it harder to catch them,” says Agoga, adding they own the boats they use to fish.
Their plan is to ensure more youths get into aquaculture industry to create jobs and market. “We are also working on becoming a company,” says Agoga.
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