A woman challenges the conventional norms and perceptions about fish consumption within her community

The Inspiring Journey of Judith Mukiri: From Amateur Fish Farmer to Thriving  Aquaculture  Entrepreneur and Fish Hotelier.

In the rural landscapes of Tharaka Nithi County, Kenya, resides Judith Mukiri. She is an aquaculture farmer and above all else, a grateful beneficiary of the Aquaculture Business Development Programme (ABDP) – a joint project by the Government of Kenya (GoK) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Under the guidance of ABDP, Judith received comprehensive training and practical knowledge in fish farming techniques,  from pond construction and maintenance to fish feeding and disease control. With newfound confidence and a burning entrepreneurial spirit,  Judith joined forces with 19 like-minded individuals in her community. Together, they formed a Smallholder Aquaculture Group (SAG)  under ABDP that pooled their resources and purchased fingerlings even before receiving any from the programme. This collective effort showcased their unwavering commitment and dedication to transforming their lives through aquaculture.

Recognizing the absence of a market for their produce, Judith emerged as an innovator and decided to open a fish hotel. This bold move not only addressed the market gap but also provided employment opportunities for the community. She sourced everything from her premise. These include the vegetables (onions, tomatoes, and kale) she grows in her kitchen garden as well as the fish (tilapia and catfish) she breeds in her ponds. By sourcing ingredients from her premises, Judith fosters a sense of self-sufficiency and control over the entire supply chain of her fish point hotel. She had to purchase fish from her fellow fish farmers since she had used up all the fish in her ponds in less than two weeks. Thus far, she has bought from 15 of her group members. She sells approximately 20kgs of fish per day, each kilogram going for Ksh 400. This approach not only allows her to deliver a truly farm-to-table experience but also supports local agriculture.

With her fish point hotel up and running, Judith continued to embody the spirit of empowerment. She hired two employees, each with their own unique story of transformation. The first is a young 20-year-old man called Ken who recently completed his studies. Judith offered him an opportunity to gain experience and earn a living, nurturing his potential and igniting his passion for entrepreneurship. The second employee is a resilient 50-year-old woman called Rosemary who had previously struggled to pay her child’s fees. Working at Judith’s fish point hotel has not only provided her with financial stability but also restored her sense of pride and accomplishment.

The story of Judith is an especially fascinating one. Judith hails from the Atharaka community, a people whose diet traditionally consists primarily of livestock and agricultural produce. Fish did not form part of their cultural diets. In fact, only young boys would fish small fish from local rivers,  as the consumption of fish by adults was frowned upon. In a community where fish has not historically been a staple of the local cuisine, Judith challenged the conventional norms and perceptions surrounding fish consumption within her community by embracing aquaculture and opening her fish point hotel.

Judith Mukiri, ABDP Beneficiary, Tharaka Nithi County

Judith Mukiri’s journey stands as a testament to the power of determination, open-mindedness, and the ability to challenge cultural barriers. By embracing aquaculture and offering delicious fish cuisine through her fish point hotel,  she not only empowered her community but also opened up a new chapter in the cultural landscape,  where the nutritional and economic benefits of fish could be embraced and celebrated by all.

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