Joseph Mutwiri and Domiciano Maingi, two of the biggest fish farmers in Meru County have teamed up to open the Fish Carnivore-Makutano, a restaurant which will serve only fish and accompaniments to residents and non-residents.

The two pooled resources to start the fish eatery at Makutano just above Meru town on the highway to Nanyuki.

Mr Mutwiri said the idea is to introduce fish to locals as well as serve visitors and workers in the area, some who come from Nyanza and other areas.

Mutwiri who is also the chairman of the Aquaculture Association of Kenya (Meru chapter) yesterday said residents and visitors will now be able to have fish and accompaniments at an affordable price.

No other type of meat will be served at the restaurant named Fish Carnivore-Makutano, Mutwiri said.

They have invested in modern equipment which they have installed to prepare the fish, cook it and make other products such as fish sausages and samosas.

“The demand for fish is growing in Meru because it is a cosmopolitan area,” Mutwiri said.

Mutwiri who is also the chairman of the Aquaculture Association of Kenya (Meru chapter) said residents and visitors will now be able to have fish and accompaniments at a fair price.

“A samosa and a sausage will be in the region of Sh50 a piece,” he said.

No other type of meat will be served at the restaurant named Fish Carnivore-Makutano, Mutwiri said.

“It is one of a kind in the entire region. But we did a research and found out that the Meru keep away from fish because they do not know how to prepare nor do they know how to eat it properly!” said Mutwiri, saying that among the staff are experts.

“Our staff will be on standby to teach clients how to eat fish well. We also have an area where raw fish will be sold to those who want to go and prepare it for family at home. They will be taught how to properly cook and serve it, at no extra cost,” Mutwiri who has six fish ponds with tilapia and catfish species, said.

Maingi is one of the biggest fish farmers in the country and is setting more in Meru.

Mutwiri, a former Chief Inspector of Police, said they were partnering with the county in a plan to launch a fish eating campaign in the county “for better health”.

“Health experts recommend fish as a white meal which contains a lot of minerals and is rich in calcium and other essential nutrients,” said Mutwiri,

Though fish farming is not labour intensive, the availability of affordable quality feeds was quite a challenge at the beginning.

The real challenge for the farmers, said Mutwiri came when the fish achieved maturity and were ready for harvest, and consumption.

“Many people did not understand the nutritional value of fish, how to cook and even eat it,” Mutwiri, who ferried the still live fish in his pickups to do rounds, said.

“I had to market the fish before they reached maturity, otherwise I would suffer losses,” he said.

But now Mutwiri and Maingi are set to reap the benefits of their sweat and investment.

The building fish joint also houses Fish Consult International manned by Evalyne Gatwiri, who holds a degree in Aquatic Sciences.

“She will be at hand to educate farmers on best practices. The climate and geographical outlay in Meru is conducive for fish farming,” Mutwiri said, adding that it is not hard to keep fish as diseases are rare.

Mutwiri is a beneficiary of the Standards and Market Access Programme (SMAP), a European Union-funded initiative to help fish farmers.

“I have been to Netherlands and other countries to learn the best practices in both fish and dairy farming. That is why we want to spread the knowledge to others on fish farming because it is profitable,” Mutwiri said.

Among other services offered at the consultancy will be on site selection, pond construction and extension services.

“But an important aspect of successful farming is on pond management and fish feed formulation. This is a one-stop shop for all matters fish,” Mutwiri said.

Apart from teaching and training farmers they will stock equipments such as nets, liners and others.

“We will also be able to supply fingerlings to farmers who want to take it up after the training,” he said.

On the partnership Mutwiri said they are in a 50-50 partnership.

“It is not a challenge to co-own the enterprise because we share the same goals, to achieve more success as fish farmers, get more people in and cultivate a fish eating culture in the entire region,” he said.

With investment in all needed equipment to store and prepare the whole fish and samosas and sausages, Mutwiri said the aim is to reap maximum benefits from venture.

There will be a section to sell raw fish for those who want to prepare at home, and the restaurant where there will also be a take-away area.

Ingredients for sausages, he said, include bread crumbs, minced fish, egg and salt.

“Health experts recommend fish as a white meal which contains a lot of minerals and is rich in calcium and other essential nutrients,” said Mutwiri, revealing that he first ate fish at City Market in Nairobi and eats it frequently in a week.

He adds: “It aids in the development of the brain in children so we want to have more of our children start to eat it seriously!”

Mutwiri said the idea was born of the fact that while a demand for fish existed there were no reliable suppliers.

Those who like to eat fish cannot get enough of it as the few supermarkets that stock it cannot satisfy the demand.

With a capacity for 50 patrons the restaurant will also have fish samosas and sausages, he said.

“We did a lot of research so we expect to sell a lot of fish,” Mutwiri said.

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