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Thursday, 29 July 2010

Women Break Traditions to Show That Fishing is Not a Man's Job

A few years back, it would have been almost taboo for women to get into the waters to fish. A recent harvesting at Baraka Makongeni Conservation Group in Kenya's south Coast where a record 130 kilos of fish was netted in less than two hours has brought new meaning to generating income in the rural areas. Traditionally, women did not undertake such tasks but with the new trend in fish farming they are now showing the way. Mrs Mariam Mwalimu, the group's chairlady says the idea to start fish farming next to the sea was due to dwindling stocks especially during the season of strong waves. "It was such a feat at first just by the mere thought of fish farming yet we have the sea." When the group was formed in 2004, it has 30 of mixed gender. But it was not an easy task digging ponds big enough to store water. The group's efforts were noticed by the European Union through Kwetu Training Centre. "Experts from Kwetu took a lot of interest in us and started inducting us on fish farming. "Unlike in normal aquaculture for fresh water fish farming, we had to identify the right fingerlings to stock because mixing them would end up having predators and prey together," Mrs Mwalimu said. Their biggest challenge now is increasing the ponds and not just in numbers. Recomap Coordinator in the region Patrick Kimani said the group has benefited from experts from Tanzania and the Philippines where such schemes have been successful. The project in its pilot phase is part of the Sh10 million funding by the EU under Recomap and Kwetu Centre. "These kinds of project which also include crab farming are still new in Kenya and need a lot of care. But the success in the harvesting of one of the seven ponds is a milestone that will be used as a yardstick for community participation in conservation and income generating projects," Mr Kimani said. The group has been used as a model and some members have been taken to Mtwara in Tanzania to learn how the farming is done with greater success. Some men have now decided to try their hand on the project but targeting the aquaculture. With the fish ponds promising better returns the perception that fishing is a man's job is changing even though the women say they are not ready to take up canoes to go into the sea to fish.

Source: Allafrica