The third edition of the Best Fish Farmer Competition: Impacting and celebrating aquaculture enthusiasts in Kenya

The third edition of the Best Fish Farmer Competition, organized by Lattice and Larive International with support from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, attracted over 500 participants. The event aims to boost capacity, foster innovation, and connect stakeholders in Kenya's aquaculture sector. It features webinars on best practices, culminating in an awards ceremony celebrating industry excellence. Notable winners include Hezron Oyanda and Valentine Otieno, highlighting dedication and innovation in aquaculture. The competition signifies a promising future for sustainable aquaculture in Kenya, with a focus on youth and gender diversity.

Following the triumph of two previous Best Fish Farmer Competitions in 2021 and 2023, Lattice and Larive International, supported by funding from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, organized the third edition of the Best Fish Farmer Competition on April 12th, 2024. The response was overwhelming, with over 500 fish farmers, students, and aquaculture graduates submitting their applications for the competition.

In essence, this Competition and Award Event serves as a platform to enhance capacity, showcase innovation, and foster connections among stakeholders in Kenya's aquaculture industry. It emphasizes the importance of involving aspiring fish farmers, especially students who lack practical skills and knowledge for entrepreneurship or employment in this sector. While other aquaculture programs have begun, there's still a need for better coordination, showcasing successful business models, and providing mentorship through role models. The Best Fish Farmer Competition aims to bridge these gaps by empowering young individuals, facilitating networking, enhancing business skills, promoting best practices, facilitating interaction with past winners, and integrating participants into the aquaculture community.

As an integral component of the competition and with a focus on capacity building, two webinars were arranged as a precursor to the main event. These sessions aimed to educate aquaculture enthusiasts about the best practices in fish farming and the various opportunities within the aquaculture sector. The first webinar, held on January 19, 2024, featured a panel of experts discussing Sustainable Fish Farm Management. The second webinar, conducted on February 16, 2024, centered around Sustainable Aqua Health Management.

Following the two-month duration of the competition at the beginning of the year, a jury consisting of BluePlanet, Tunga Nutrition, AquaSpark and Lattice selected the candidates to identify potential winners based on predetermined criteria. In each category, five individuals were selected, including five farmers and five students.

2024 Best Fish Farmer Award Ceremony

In a vibrant celebration of innovation and dedication the Best Fish Farmer Competition award ceremony took place on April 12th at the Sarova Imperial Hotel in Kisumu. The event highlighted the outstanding accomplishments and efforts of aquaculture enthusiasts throughout the region. A total of 147 in-person attendees and 337 online participants across Zoom, YouTube, and Facebook joined the ceremony. The occasion was honored by the presence of 10 government officials, including the Fisheries Director of the host county, Kisumu, as well as 29 representatives from the private sector, along with many aquaculture students and farmers.

The central theme for this year's event revolved around "Blue Optimization: Striking the Balance Between Profitability and Sustainability in Aquaculture". Moderated by Lillian Marenya of Lattice, the panel discussion featured insights from industry luminaries such as Esther Katonga, the Commercial Manager of Tunga Nutrition; Vincent Oduor, CEO of Aquabarn Ltd; Joseph Koima, Zonal Business Manager at Juhudi Kilimo; and Rosalia Ayugi, CFO of Aquarech. The discussion highlighted the crucial role of commercial feeds, with Vincent sharing a compelling anecdote of achieving remarkable results by harvesting 700g tilapia just five months after stocking, thanks to switching to Tunga feeds. Vincent expressed gratitude for the training his team received at the Kamuthanga Aquaculture Academy following their victory in the 2023 BFFC, which significantly boosted their operations. Additionally, Juhudi Kilimo offered a valuable opportunity, encouraging farmers, both current and aspiring, to explore financing options through Samaki Pepea, a collaborative product between Lattice and Juhudi Kilimo. He also made mention of several farmers they are currently collaborating with, including the newly crowned BFFC 2024 winner.

From left to right: Lillian Marenya (Lattice), Joseph Koima (Juhudi Kilimo), Vincent Oduor (Aquabarn Ltd), Esther Katonga (Tunga Nutrition), Rosalia Ayugi (Aquarech) during the panel discussion.

The five nominated students (Grace Mwangi, Alice Wangari, Jonathan Odira, Emmanuel Oluoko and Valentine Otieno) got an opportunity to give a 3-minute speech entailing their passion and what they have done to change the face of aquaculture in Kenya to convince the audience to vote them as the best aquaculture student, Valentine Otieno emerged the best with 42.9% of the votes, impressing the audience with his love for aquaculture from a non-aquaculture educational background.

The five farmers (Mercy Chepkirui, Hezron Oyanda, Robert Ninsiima, John Masya and Mohamed Salim) videos were also displayed, the audience watched and voted Hezron Oyanda of Rabisa Fish Farm as the best fish farmer owing to what he has achieved in the aquaculture sector despite his old age. Hezron runs a fish farm that only focuses on fingerling production. He supplies many fish farms in the South and Western Nyanza regions of Kenya. He also donates fingerlings to farmers who are yearning to start fish farms but are unable to afford fingerlings. Being among the partners who supported the execution of this event, Tunga Nutrition, a leading provider of premium fish feeds promised to offer winners access to high-quality fish feeds reflecting their commitment to supporting farmers' success.

The winning farmers’ videos are uploaded on YouTube and can be watched via the below links:

All the finalists were awarded prizes including water quality test kits, and is still set to receive the following range of benefits: high-quality feed donated by Tunga Nutrition, free training opportunities for farmworkers at the Aquaculture Academy, on-site training sessions, and on-site trial support, as well as a consultation session with a technical expert from Lattice for customized advice.

Hezron Oyanda receiving his award from Liz Kiamba (Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands) and Winnie Ouko (CEO Lattice Aqua).

Overall, the Best Fish Farmers Competition stands as a beacon of hope and inspiration, illuminating the path towards a sustainable and prosperous future for aquaculture in the region. The event showcased a dynamic and promising industry landscape. With a significant portion of attendees (67%) under 30 years old, the Aquaculture sector is gradually being taken up by a young and energetic generation eager to make their mark. Additionally, the strong representation of women (77%) among attendees highlights their flourishing role in Kenyan aquaculture, underscoring the industry's inclusivity and diversity.

For More Information

Please visit or email for more details regarding the competition, trainings and other enquiries. Interested individuals can register for the online courses at

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