Mwea Aquafish Farm in Kirinyaga County, Kenya

General Location

Mwea Aquafish Farm is in Kirinyaga County, on the slopes of Mount Kenya at 1,050m above sea level in a low rainfall area famous for irrigated rice that feeds the entire Country and beyond. The area is associated with a milder climate than is usual in tropical equatorial zones. The annual average maximum temperature is 28 C with peaks in July, August, January and February, and with an average annual minimum temperature of 15 C. The average relative humidity varies from 80 per cent at 9.00 a.m. to 50 per cent at 3.00 p.m., and the annual evaporation 2 averages 7mm per day. The average annual rainfall at Mwea Tebere is 1006 mm (over 16 years) and at Mwea Experimental farm it is 890 mm (over 12 years).The Fish Farm is 110 kilometers North East of Nairobi on the Nairobi/Embu and 1.5 km from Kimbimbi town and can be accessed throughout the year through a good all weather road. Details of the site location are available at

Description of Area/Region

Overall Description
This is a “Model Fish Farm” where Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and African catfish (Clarias gariepinus) are raised in earthen liner ponds, and concrete tanks. It began in August 2009 on 3.5 hectares of agricultural land. Initially, most ponds (measuring 300 m2) were constructed on sandy/loam/clay soils.

Temperature: 15-32 Degrees Celcius
Precipitation: Low rainfall 18.5 – 223 mm
Humidity: 80-50 (9.00am to 3.00pm)
Seasonality: Two rainfall peaks April/May and Oct/November
Topography: 1050 m above Sea level

Geology and Soils
The area, like most of the Mwea volcanic plain, is underlain by the Thiba olivine basalts (a fairly uniform series of usually non porphyritic, fine-grained grey basalts erupted from Mt. Kenya), which are Pleistocene in age. Generally the soils vary from reddish brown clays on ridges and upper slopes through very dark greyish brown clays on lower slopes to dark brown to very dark greyish brown compact clays in depressions. Also found are stony and gravelly soils.

Water Supply
Water is pumped from three reservoirs constructed next to a small stream that runs past the lower part of the farm into head tanks then discharged into the ponds by gravity. The third water source is a Borehole 85 meter deep with a discharge of 20m3 per hour. Ponds are very well laid out and integrate with the gradient of the land and profile good scenery admirable to the eyes.

Mwea Aquafish Farm Map

Country map locating the Site

Mwea AquaFish farm satellite location is as indicated at:

Map Coordinates: Latitude: 0°36.73’S, Longitude: 37°22.84’E

Elevation: 1,050 m 

Nile Tilapia and Catfish Fingerling production

Females Nile tilapias are stocked with males at a ratio of 2 to 1 in 10 breeding liner ponds so as to produce 10,000 fry per month as required by farmers for stocking their ponds. This production will total to 100,000 per month or 1.2 million sex-reversed fry annually for at least three years rising to 2 million per year by the fifth year.  To sustain this production, it is estimated that 200 females stocked will each produce 200 eggs each per spawn.  The farm maintains 3,000 African catfish Brooders - a high quality breed. Survival is usually very low and to sustain production at 100,000 per month, the farm continues to hold 3,000 brooders (2000 males and 1000 females).

Mwea Aquafish Farm integrates livestock with fish and crops with fish. The farm grows quality bananas, vegetables and root crops alongside fish.  Ponds serve as water storage structure and, as such, become a key asset of water supply to crops. Waste accumulated in pond as sludge is pumped, when draining a pond, into vegetable gardens to increase vegetable production. The farm operates a Zero-discharge water policy and any water due for release is pumped back into the farm to irrigate crops. Mwea Aquafish has a class that can sit 40-50 students/farmers. Tailor made courses for specific group of farmers are provided to empower other. Free fact sheets, brochure and posters provided to farmers. They can be downloaded from the farm’s website

The hatchery has both Nile tilapia and catfish breeding units. It houses a conference room and a Laboratory. This will be an excellent facility for research and quality seed production. Annexed to the hatchery is the Recirculating Aquaculture facility. This runs on an 80 m3 water holding tank feeding into 8 beehive shaped rearing tanks each holding 500 pieces of Nile tilapia. The production capacity of each tank, whose volume is 20 m3, is 1,000 kg tilapia in a year in two cycles of 500kg per cycle.

The fish farm envisages a long-term goal of producing quality seed for fish farmers leading to increased farmed fish that grows faster and attracts a market and offers better prices and income for the rural communities in this country.  The farm endevours to serve better through information sharing, technology transfer and change in fish farm practices so as to improve their livelihood.

Modern Hatchery and the Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS)

Current Contacts

Kenya US

Mwea Aquafish Farm
P.O. Box 421 - 10303
Wang'uru, Mwea - Kenya
+254 726 165 127
Charles Ngugi < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. >

Charles C. Ngugi
P.O. Box 101040-00101
Nairobi Kenya
Cellphone: +254 726 165 127
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kevin Fitzsimmons
Dept of Soil Water and Environmental Science
University of Arizona
1140 E. South Campus Drive
Forbes 306
Tucson, AZ   85719 USA
Cellphone: (1-520)- 820- 0643
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr. Joseph Molnar
Auburn University
Auburn, Alabama 36849-5406 USA
(1-334) 844-5615 (PM) Office
Cell 334-663-2375
Fax:(1-334) 844-5639 Office
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

University of Nairobi