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Suzanne is a well-respected fish farmer who learned everything she knows about fish farming on-the-job and by speaking to people engaged in the sub-sector. Her story demonstrates what one can achieve with sheer determination and drive. A commercial fish farming pioneer in Kenya, Suzanne registered Kamiti Fish and Integrated Farm in 2010. Today, she has an average of 5,000 fish in her ponds at any given time and works with a network of over 4,000 fish farmers. Suzanne is a product innovator who sells her fish product creations under the brand name Samaki Shop.
What you’ll hear in this episode:
- Visualizing ponds of fish on her land and then following through.
- Discouragement from the Ministry of Agriculture where the extension workers did not have any information on fish farming and advised her to pursue other economic activities.
- Identifying people who could teach her about fish-farming in an informal setting – two professors, fishermen on the shores of Lake Victoria, an ornamental fish farmer and a fish farming cooperative in Uganda – Walimi Fish Cooperative Society (WAFICOS).
- Traversing the region to teach and mentor fish farmers e.g. Lovin Kobusingye of Kati Farms, Uganda.
- Partnering with the African Union Women, the African Women in Agriculture Network (AWAN) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
- Suzanne’s work with the Women in Agri-business Roundtable – inspiring women to work together even if they belong to different associations.
- Suzanne’s mixed borrowing experiences with Equity Bank and the risk aversion to borrowing that she is trying to overcome.
- Introducing herbed fish sausages to the market and developing other new products.
- Challenges: Limited information available on aqua culture / fish farming in Kenya when she first decided to pursue fish farming. Currently recovering from an arson attack at the farm. Unattractive payment terms from supermarkets make them unattractive as distribution points.
- Suzanne’s dreams: To create a market (national, regional and Africa-wide) for Kenya’s and Africa’s agricultural goods. Introducing new products – fish paste and canned fish.
- Lesson Learned: Think Big! Believe in yourself! Learn from all your experiences. Maintain good relationships with your suppliers. Value your time and the time of others. Write your dreams down and discuss them with someone.
- Words of Inspiration: Network and collaborate. Get up and do it! Don’t give up!
African Women in Agriculture Network (AWAN): https://www.awanafrica.com/
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): http://www.fao.org/home/en/
Walimi Fish Cooperative Society (WAFICOS): http://www.ugandaeconomy.com/trade-associations/walimi-fish-cooperative-society-waficos
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