2 Kenyans Turning Fish Farming Into Multi-Billion-Dollar Investment

Workers catching fish in a Lake
Workers catching fish in a Lake
Courtesy The Fish Site

Despite Tilapia being among the most commercially farmed fish globally, it is largely cultivated by smallholder farmers often in less-developed countries. 

The Tilapia market has been labelled a multi-billion-dollar market, but it has been overshadowed by global interest in other fish species such as salmon. Businesses, corporations, universities, and other institutions have spent billions on researching salmon while disregarding tilapia.

Two Kenyan businessmen, Joseph Rehmann and Steve Moran, thus ventured into fish farming, focusing solely on Tilapia popular in Africa and specifically on the shores of Lake Victoria.

Victory Farms grows the tilapia species of fish in Lake Victoria in Kenya.
Victory Farms grows the tilapia species of fish in Lake Victoria in Kenya.
Courtesy How We Made it in Africa

The two proceeded with their investment despite studies warning against Tilapia farming. Rehmann and Moran have farmed around 30 million fish alive and sell about two million tilapia each month.

Speaking to How We Made It Africa, Rehmann concurred that the tilapia industry offers a multibillion-dollar opportunity, despite the lack of investment.

The duo founded Victory Farms in 2016 and aims to become one of Africa’s largest commercial tilapia farmers. 

Moran and Rehmann designed their own fish-rearing process redefining commercial-scale tilapia farming in Africa.

Rehmann stated that it was crucial to not only simply replicate methods from other commercially farmed fish but also create a technique that was suitable for tilapia and Africa. 

“We couldn’t just copy and paste the recirculatory aquaculture system (RAS) fishing style in Holland; the pond system from Thailand or the cage system from Norway. It required a hybridised approach," he explained.

At first, Rehmann and his co-founder, Moran, were cautioned Lake Victoria was unsuitable for aquaculture as it was too nutrient-rich, shallow and cold. 

However, they believed Lake Victoria was the best place for tilapia after conducting their own technical and commercial feasibility assessments. 

“There’s almost nobody manufacturing tilapia equipment currently in the world, which is an amazing statement because it’s one of the world’s top three farmed fish.

"It is farmed by millions of smallholders and feeds billions of people." 

Additionally, they developed their own recirculatory aquaculture system (RAS) technology that works well in an open environment like Lake Victoria.

The water is filtered and recycled back to the fish in RAS tanks, which are typically indoor tanks. The fish are raised in a natural lake under a hybrid model developed by Victory Farms. 

Kenyan aquaculture company Victory Farms
Kenyan aquaculture company Victory Farms
Courtesy Africa AgriBusiness

Protein pellets and carbohydrates free of antibiotics are also fed to the fish. 

Due to the efficiency of this distinct method compared to other RAS strategies, the business is well-positioned to compete with major international producers.

Each day, they supply 56 of their own branches, and by the end of the year, they hope to have 65 more. 

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