The Lamu Group raises mud crabs for local and export markets


The Lamu Group raises mud crabs for local and export markets

Members of Mokowe Mainland CBO in their crab hatchery at Mokowe Old Jetty on September 25, 2022. PHOTO | KALUME KAZUNGU | NMG

A group of Lamu residents are betting on raising crabs in muddy areas, fattening them up and selling them to local restaurants and export markets.

The locals practice mud crab farming, which has allowed them to reap huge financial benefits.

Abdirashid Aden, the chairman of the group, said they started mud crab farming with a capital of only 6,000 shillings and bought 10 special crates used as cages for rearing young crabs. The first try was hectic and they couldn’t harvest any as most of the crabs died while others were stolen from their site.

He said the second round of crab farming was successful as they managed to raise and fatten ten crabs to the mature stage where they sold them for 10,000 shillings.

The third round was also successful and the group managed to sell eight crabs locally for 8,000 shillings.

Today, the group cares for 15 crabs in its hatchery located in the Mokowe Old Jetty area.

Mr Aden says the group decided to come up with an innovative and sustainable method of farming crabs.

“There is a high demand for crabs in Kenya and around the world, and this can only be exploited through farming instead of wild fishing, which could threaten the species in the ocean,” says Mr. Aden.

Ali Swaleh, the secretary of the group, said his goal is to expand the project and become one of the largest blue economy initiatives in Kenya and an exporter.

Part of their plans is to own a seafood business or resort where tourists and guests can visit and taste fresh sea delicacies including crabs.

“With the little investment we have made as members, we have already established that crab farming can be a major income generating activity and source of employment for the many educated but unemployed young people of Lamu. . Due to the low production, we only sell our crabs locally, but our goal is to seek an international market where we will export the crabs once we increase production,” says Mr. Swaleh.

Athman Aswa, who is in charge of feeding the crabs, said the group started by conserving the mangroves and cleaning the beaches frequently before getting permission from the Kenya Forest Service in Lamu to practice crab farming.

The crabbers have so far built 10 floating cages using special crates, pipes and cardboard that can hold up to 15 crabs and use them to fatten the sea creatures.

Crab fishermen are responsible for catching crabs with a minimum weight of 180 grams to 200 grams.

“We feed them twice a day, including cheap fish, shrimp, meat, small crabs, entrails of birds and animals from slaughterhouses, and bread among other things. We fatten them up then in the cages for more than a month.The total time for the mud crabs to reach marketing size and weight is three to six months.We locally sell a crab weighing between 750 grams and one kilogram per 1,000 shillings,” says Aswa.

Bahati Fundi, the group’s technician in charge of building the floating cages, explains that one of the challenges of crab farming is the lack of a boardwalk that would allow farmers easy access to the cages to feed the crabs. .

“It is difficult to reach this muddy place to feed the crabs daily. Sometimes we get hurt. Once a boardwalk is built, it will be easy for us to access the cages and feed our creatures, whether at high tide or low tide,” says Mr. Fundi.

As well as selling them to restaurants, the crabbers woo holidaymakers from Nairobi, Malindi, Mombasa and Kilifi, who visit Lamu to buy the crabs from their hatchery in Mokowe.

The organization’s goal is that one day they will be able to make up to 300,000 shillings in profit every month.

Lamu County Senior Fisheries Officer Simon Komu praised the group for their innovation, calling it as crucial as it can uplift the fisheries sector in the county.

He said apart from crabs, the group can also look to expand its business by raising shrimp and ornamental fish for sustainable agriculture.

“The introduction of crab farming in Lamu is a new dawn. We already have some groups including women in places like Pate where they are growing octopus and making huge profits from it. We welcome such ideas to elevate the fishing sector in this place,” Mr. Komu said.

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