Growth Performance of Tilapia in Different Culture Systems on Varying Input amounts and Aquaculture Technologies Adoption in Meru County, Kenya
Prior to 2010 aquaculture production in Kenya was low, 4895 MT annually and adoption. Information on effects of various inputs on growth performance of tilapia, the best culture system and aquaculture adoption in Meru County is scanty or missing. The purpose of this study was therefore to find out the effects of varying the amounts of fish feed pellets, fertilization and liming pond water under different physicochemical parameters on the performance of Oreochromis niloticus in different culture systems (ponds) in Meru County, Kenya over a period of three months, August 2015 to November 2015. The study also investigated determinants of adoption of fish farming technologies (liner, concrete and earthen culture) in the study area. Fourty Eight (48) fish ponds of size 2m x 1m x1m deep of each type were constructed in a randomized block design in the study area. Each pond was stocked with 8 Oreochromis niloticus monosex fingerlings each of approximately 20gm. Fish were fed daily at 10 am and 4 pm. Growth performance of the fish was measured after 30, 60 and 90 days under different treatments. The parameters which were measured were, weight gain of the fish, total production from the various ponds and adoption level of fish farming technologies. ANOVA was used to determine if there was any significant difference in the mean weight gain of the fish in the three culture systems under different treatments. On adoption, a questionnaire was used to collect information on the factors which influence adoption of fish farming technologies. Ninety (90) fish farmers and Ninety (90) non – fish farmers were interviewed through a structured questionnaire to determine the factors and level of adoption. Logit regression analysis was used to analyze primary data on adoption collected from the field. Results revealed that varying amounts of fish feed pellets (2, 4, and 6 gms) had no significant difference in the weight gain of fish in the three culture system. When pond water was fertilized at different fertilization rates, concrete culture system produced highest mean weight gain of 11.21 ± 3.27 gms, earthen 7.67 ± 1.36 gms and liner 6.41 ± 4.88 gms with 4 gms DAP showing a significance difference in mean weight gain (F = 20.07, df = 2, P = 0.002). Liming the pond water produced almost a similar trend with fish in concrete pond recording a mean fish weight gain of 8.87 ± 3.75 gms, liner 7.20 ± 1.89 gms and earthen 7.12 ± 1.91 gms with 4 gms lime showing a significance difference (F = 5.18, df = 2, P = 0.049). On combining all the inputs at various levels of (pellets, fertilizer and lime), there was no significant difference in mean weight gain of fish in the culture systems. Concrete culture system recorded the highest mean weight gain of 9.44 ± 2.05 gms and liner 7.35 ± 3.70 gms. On determinants of adoption, the study showed that, out of the eleven factors assessed, market access, extension services, credit access and annual farm income significantly (p<0.05) influences the adoption of fish farming technologies (liner, concrete and earthen) in Meru County. The study concluded that the use of different levels of aquaculture inputs affects the growth performance of Oreochromis niloticus in different culture systems. Planners and Fisheries managers of aquaculture projects and programmes are encouraged to prioritize market access, extension services, credit access and annual farm income in their administration and implementation of all fisheries projects for higher success rate leading to improved fish production and livelihoods of fish farmers. Policy makers to create provision in law for market access, extension services, credit access, farm income streams and linkages strengthening inorder to transform the aquaculture sector.