Enterprise

Why fish farming is my retirement plan

PatrickMacharia1

Mr Patrick Macharia in Kiamumbi Fish Farm and Eating Place, in Kahawa West. PHOTO SAMMY WAWERU | NMG

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Summary

  • Patrick Macharia has been a fish farmer for 15 years.
  • It is a venture he settled on after burning his fingers in pigs rearing.
  • The pigs venture, which he used Sh200,000 capital to establish, was brought down by substandard feeds and high cost of operation in 2001.

Patrick Macharia has been a fish farmer for 15 years. It is a venture he settled on after burning his fingers in pigs rearing.

The pigs venture, which he used Sh200,000 capital to establish, was brought down by substandard feeds and high cost of operation in 2001.

In 2006, he entered into fish farming. He began with just a pond, but this has rapidly grown to 47 pans in Ruai and Kahawa West, Nairobi County.

“I started with a pond, with only 500 fingerlings. None died and after eight months I harvested all, selling each at Sh250,” he reveals.

He attributes his success to the thorough research he conducted before entering into the venture. He says the low cost of operation in fish farming attracted him to the enterprise.

Mr Macharia has also set up fish eating joints following demand for ready-to-eat fish.

Three years ago he opened two eateries — one in Kimbo, Ruiru on Thika Super Highway and another in Kiamumbi, Kahawa West, Nairobi County.

“Not many know how to cook fish, so in 2018, I started adding value by deep frying. Most of my clients started requesting if I could cook for them and also deliver,” says the proprietor of Kiamumbi Fish Farm and Eating Place.

He spent Sh1 million in setting up the eateries, which have a number of frying machines. Other equipment he bought are refrigerators, deep freezers, display refrigerators, for preserving fish and also weighing machines as well kitchen utensils.

A plate of a whole fish cooked, served with ugali, kachumbari and salad ranges between Sh400 and Sh1,800 .

“The price depends on the weight of the fish,” says the entrepreneur.

His eateries were performing well until last year when Kenya was struck by Covid-19, now a global pandemic.

Mr Kamau had to lay off 32 workers as the business considerably dwindled.

“Initially, I could make sales worth about Sh100,000 daily at the weekend and Sh60,000 on weekdays. Currently I am generating a paltry Sh8,000 because of the measures and restrictions imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19,” the entrepreneur tells Enterprise at his Kiamumbi Fish Farm.

On March 26, 2021 President Uhuru Kenyatta announced cessation of movement in and out of Nairobi, Kajiado, Nakuru, Machakos and Kiambu counties. The lockdown was, however, lifted during this year's Labour Day celebrations.

“We were closing the eateries by 7pm in order to comply with curfew directive, a time when foodstuffs are mostly needed. We have lost a great number of customers,” he laments.

“Were it not for Covid-19, right now I could be talking about having over 100 employees because of high demand for fish as I also do deliveries,” adds the entrepreneur.

Mr Macharias says he has a Sh1.2 million outstanding loan, which he discloses he is unable to service due to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

“Fish business is among the most lucrative ventures, but now the economy is stuck. I wanted to commit myself heavily in fish as my retirement project, but things are going astray. I am worried,” says the 58-year-old entrepreneur.

He hopes things will resume to normal as he looks to expand his Kiamumbi Fish Farm and Eating Place.

This is not the first time Mr Macharia is going through a rough patch in life and business. He suffered a huge loss as a result of 1992 post-election skirmishes after being displaced from Molo.

“I had invested a lot. I lost all the parcels of land and cars I had,” he recalls.

The farmer says he was only able to go with his encyclopedia, a book he loves to read.

“Thank God my family was safe. Nevertheless, I did not give up. I began from the scratch,” says Mr Kamau, a mechanical and civil engineer diploma holder.