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Mining Food From Old Quarries

By Muthui Mwai, The Nation (Nairobi), 24 May 2001

Fish farming could turn the hundreds of abandoned quarries that litter the country into goldmines. These natural pools could be turned into goldmines, generating lots of cash for the local communities with the introduction of tilapia or catfish fish.

They could also be fenced off with cash generated from the sale of fish making them safe to people, especially children.

Researchers say such an a project was easily feasible as tilapia' is highly tolerant to water pollution.

It can be reared in muddy semi-stagnant ponds and is highly resistant to disease.

There are numerous unfilled quarries in Kayole, Nairobi.

There is also the infamous one on the Kabete-Limuru road at Rungiri near Kikuyu town which occupies more than two acres and is more than 100 feet deep.

Several other unfilled quarries are to be found in Kabiruini, Thunguma and Kiganjo in Nyeri and Sagana in Kirinyaga. Murang'a is replete with hundreds of abandoned quarries.

A fisheries officer in Central Province, Mr David Mwaniki, said tilapia and the catfish could be introduced in these quarries for economic gain.

"We are willing to offer technical advice to anyone who is willing to grow fish," he said.

Most of these quarries are on land owned by local authorities, said Mr Mwaniki.

He advised communities living close to these water-filled abandoned quarries to introduce fish which would also feed on the mosquitoes that breed in these pools.

"Fish farming is an inexpensive project as they could be fed on kitchen waste - ugali and vegetable peels. Catfish can also feed on slaughterhouse waste.

Mr Mwaniki said fish do not have any serious diseases unlike livestock and mature within six months without intensive feeding.

"Fish from these pools could be used to supplement the local communities' diets including a ready market in the fast food cafes," says Mr Jack McDonald, a retired civil servant who worked with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.

Mr McDonald added that turning these quarries into dams for growing fish, would create hundreds of badly needed jobs.

People interested in fish farming can obtain fingerlings from the fisheries department at Sagana.

As for the tilapia, genetic scientists in the United Kingdom are reported to have developed a "superfish," which they claim will revolutionise fish farming in Africa and Asia.

A team at the University of Wales, Swansea, has found a way of making the Nile tilapia grow larger more quickly.

Fish is an excellent source of protein.

Copyright 2001 The Nation. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).