Fish production in Kenya to higher level with thanks to TU/e SURE Innovation

On average, the Keyan population eats 5 kilgram fish per annum. However, the recommended amount is higher with a factor three. The problem doesn’t lay with the Kenyans not wanting to eat fish but in the disappointing numbers from the local fishing industry. The Kenyan government has been investing in the industry in the past years. In Kenya, 40.000 fish ponds have been built. But revenues were still disappointing. Three companies Fishion, Holland Aqua and Viqon came up with a solution, together with students from TU/e SURE Innovation.

Entrepreneur Jan van Rijsingen, Fishion BV, was contacted by the Dutch embassy in Kenya, to research the possibilities in the aquaculture. “Together we took on the challenge to raise the Kenyan fish production to higher levels.” They visualized the entire chain but Fishion focused mainly on the water quality.

After extensive research, Jan came to the conclusion that increasing the water temperature would be most beneficial. ‘We didn’t want to install expensive systems, since the average fishmonger doesn’t have the funds to do so. It had to be simple, cheap, but above all effective solution with the goal to get a four degrees increase in the water temperature. Moreover, the fluctuations in temperature needed to be exfilled. During the day temperatures rise fast but during the night the temperature drops.

To solve this ‘problem’ two SURE Innovators were hired. Willian Bens and Jan van Vlerken came up with a simple but very effective and low-cost solution: a PVC cloth. ‘The cloth will be stretched over the pond. During the day it keeps the direct sunlight out and during the night the heat will stay under the cloth’, Jan van Vlerken explains. After research they found out that placing a Makuti hut over the pond was even better. ‘This results in a crevice between cloth and hut. With this the temperature will be even more stabilized.’

At this moment the first ponds are equipped with the construction. ‘At a small scale we want to test and show that the ideas of Jan and Willian actually work in practice. If so, then we can start with scale ups’, Van Rijsingen says. The goals is the local entrepreneurs can benefit from this approach. Revenues from each pond will increase with a factor 4.  ‘And there will be a return on investment within a year.’ Van Rijsingen: ‘Jan and Willian were our missing link. They had the knowledge which wasn’t present in our organization. Moreover, their enthusiasm and drive was contagious. Thanks to Willian and Jan, Kenyan people will get bigger and better fish for better prices.’