NAME: Joseph Opudo Obala
AGE: 75yrs
PROJECT/ LOCATION: Kobala village, Homa-Bay County, Nyanza Province, Kenya.

Joseph Opudo Obala is a father of seven who used to earn a living from fishing the waters of Lake Victoria.  He is now one of the beneficiaries of TMT Kenya’s Kobala aquaculture project.  Two years ago Joseph constructed two beautiful fishponds adjacent to the Lake. He managed to harvest tilapia twice before these fishponds were destroyed by flooding from high rainfall and rising Lake water. With the money he had raised from just these two fish harvests he had managed to pay a full terms secondary boarding school fees for his son, something that he never would have imagined possible. In all his many years as a Lake fisherman, Joseph has never earned a reliable income from Lake fishing. He told us about the many challenges facing Lake fisherman in this area. Invasive water hyacinth has made river access and fishing along the river boundary extremely difficult. This has been exacerbated by a significant decline is the overall fish population due to over fishing, the destruction of fish breeding points by illegal fishing cartels and pollution of the lake due to industrial waster. 

Joseph feels that the fishing industry in Lake Victoria was no longer viable, however he is a skilled fisherman with both knowledge of tilapia production and access to a sustainable market for selling his fish. He was very keen to join our Kobala aquaculture project in March 2013.  This social enterprise project is supporting unemployment Lake fisherman, such as Joseph, to construct their own tilapia fish farms on reclaimed sand mine gullies, inland from the Lake.

Sand mining is another big problem in this area. It causes erosion and soil degradation, leaving behind bare soil and large gullies and destroying farmland by making it unproductive. Sand and gravel mining and associated brick making is an attractive source of income to unemployed people. The aggregate is easily accessible and cheap to extract. In recent years it has become a common means for the poor to generate cash.
Joseph Opudo has worked hard to dig his pond in one of the former sand mine sites. It is a beautiful pond which he has surrounded by banana seedlings. His fishpond already stands out as a model for the other co-operative members who are also starting to integrate fish farming and pomology. The bananas will benefit from the fertile pond water and Joseph estimates he will earn as much as £724 from the harvests of both these enterprises.
"The Mango Tree has invested in developing model farms in the areas where it works, these farms are used for demonstrating new farming methods, delivering agricultural training and trailing new crops or agribusinesses. The models farms have also been generating a moderate income through the sale of produce, approximately xxxx has been raised so far from model farm production including the sale of tomatoes, eggs, maize, tilapia fish and mango tree saplings. The Mango Tree Kenya is now also producing Spirulina, a blue-green algae which is commonly used as a food supplement to boost immune function. We are currently exploring plans to expand the model farm by another 5 acres in order to increase the production of tilapia and Spirulina for social investment in community aquaculture projects and to provide accessible, affordable nutrition supplements for people living with HIV. "