KMFRI Sagana aquaculture research centre

Sagana Centre is located about 2 km within Sagana Township in Kirinyaga County, approximately 104 Km Northeast of Nairobi City. It lies at latitudes 0019’S and 37012’E and at an altitude of 1231 metres above mean sea level. The Centre occupies an area of approximately 59.37 hectares with 109 operational ponds of which 72 (150m2) are research ponds, and the rest used for spawning, fingerling production and grow-out production. The farm is supplied with water from River Ragati by gravity all-year round.

                                                        KMFRI Sagana Centre Offices

The Sagana Centre was started by the colonial government in 1948 as Sagana Fish Culture Farm (SFCF) later changed to Sagana Aquaculture Centre (SAC) by the Kenyan government at independence. Since independence, the Farm has played a critical role in aquaculture development in Kenya. In 1993, rehabilitation of the farm was done, under the sponsorship of a project funded by the Belgian Government. Renovation of old ponds as well as construction of new ones took place through 1996. In 1997, the PD/A CRSP project was initiated at Sagana. Farm operations under both projects were partly funded by the Government of Kenya. In 2009, Sagana Fish Farm was transformed to the National Aquaculture Research Development and Training Centre (NARDTC) to spearhead the implementation of the Fish Farming Enterprise Productivity Project under the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP).

Technical Expertise and Human Resource Capacity
KMFRI team at Sagana Centre has been involved in various activities with local and international impact. Locally, there is a continuous effort to educate investors about the development and growth of sustainable aquaculture enterprises of all scales. The Centre further engages in aquaculture capacity building and community outreach activities. Among the outreach activities currently being undertaken by the Centre include establishment and authentication of hatcheries, monitoring of quality seed production and certification, monitoring of quality feed production and certification, establishment of cottage fish feeds, development of feed guidelines, standards and SOPs for seed, feed and fish quality, training of farmers and hatchery managers. At the national level, the Centre is involved in various projects, including Nile tilapia and Catfish seed and Broodstock improvement through selective breeding programs, feed formulation and production, hatchery development and operations techniques, recruitment of new species into aquaculture and development of value added aquaculture products.

Dr. Edward Kimani representing the Director KMFRI presenting certificates to the participants on the closing ceremony of STI 2016

The Centre has a staff establishment of 30 officers comprising of four (4) aquaculture research scientists, 7 technical staff tackling the several fields in the aquaculture value chain and 19 support staff in various departments including administration and human resource, accounts, supplies chain management, mercantile, ICT and Security.

On capacity building, KMFRI Sagana continuously support training and education. The Centre recently collaborated with Ghent University, Belgium in hosting the Short Training Initiative (STI) Course on “Solving the Bottleneck: Improved Practices for Larval Production of Freshwater Fish in East Africa Program” involving hatchery managers from 7 African Countries.

a) Students sampling water for water quality and b) counting Artemia nauplii in the hatchery

The Centre encourages career growth in consultation with the Institute management from time to time and currently has two scientist pursuing their PhD at Kenyatta University, a technologist pursuing a BSc in Fisheries and Aquaculture at Karatina University and two supplies chain management staff pursuing a degree and diploma at Karatina University town campus on a part-time basis. This aimed at strengthening the staff capacity with growing dynamism in the entire value chain. The Centre further engages in community capacity building and outreach activities. The Centre is widely sort by attachment students from across the country’s middle level colleges and Universities including Karatina, JKUAT, Maseno, Egerton, UoN, Kenyatta, TUM, TUK, UoE, Pwani, Kisii andSEKU Universities among others. Middle level institutions closely working with Sagana Centre on student attachment include Kenya Wildlife Service's Institute-Naivasha, Gusii Institute, Nairobi Technical Institute and Ramogi Institute. The Centre has 6 post-graduate students (2 PhD and 4 MSc) from Karatina University, Egerton University, UoE, JKUAT and Kenyatta University whose research work is either on-going or have successfully completed. Among the outreach activities currently being undertaken by the Centre include establishment of hatcheries, monitoring of quality seed production and certification, monitoring of quality feed production and certification, establishment of cottage fish feeds, production of guidelines, standards and MSOPs for seed, feed and fish quality, training of farmers and hatchery managers.

STI training recently successfully conducted by Dr Nyonje and Ms Mary Opiyo at NARDTC Sagana involving hatchery managers from 7 African Countries

The Centre has a strong scientific aquaculture team and has networked with regional and global partners in proposal writing with the current funded project being INSIFEED coordinated by ICIPE. Previous projects just conclude include KAPAP, VICRES, NCST, USAID and ASARECA as the lead institution as well as a collaborator with other aquaculture value chain players.

Research Activities

KMFRI researchers at Sagana have initiated aquaculture research projects aimed at increased fish growth, higher yield, greater productivity, improved survival, or a lower feed conversion ratio. For the consumers, these innovative research efforts translate into increased availability of better quality, less expensive, tastier, nutritionally beneficial, and safer fish food to purchase. 

Recent and On-going Research Projects

Nile tilapia selective breeding and distribution of F7 progeny to hatcheries and farms

Funding: KAPAP and KMFRI GoK Seed Fund 

Brief Summary: The research project is aimed to produce genetically improved tilapia seeds and brood-stock to be used in aquaculture in the country. The Nile tilapia selective breeding program has been undertaken up to the 7th generation. The distribution of the improved fish to the different agro-ecological zones in Kenya is to ensure sustained productivity from aquaculture in all parts of the country.


On-station multiplication of reciprocal breeds of three catfish strains (Kenyan, Indonesian and Dutch).

Funding: KAPAP / KMFRI GoK Seed Fund 

Brief summary: The study aims to address the availability of quality seed for catfish to increase fish production through production of fast growing strain of catfish. The three strains (Indonesian, Dutch and African) have different traits resulting to differential growth. The growth, survival and size homogeneity have been compared between the different crosses in order to solve the problem of heterogeneity which results to cannibalism in African catfish.

Introduction of indigenous species, Labeo victorianus and Oreochromis jipe into aquaculture

Funding: KAPAP / KMFRI

Brief Summary: Studies on recruitment of new species into aquaculture from the wild is ongoing and trials in captive culture of Labeo victorianus, Ningu (Boulenger, 1901), and Oreochromis jipe has been executed at KMFRI Sagana Centre. These indigenous species are traditionally a delicacy and improving their farming under captivity will lead to provision of quality seed to interested aquaculture farmers as well as restocking of rivers and lakes.

Evaluating Costs and Benefits of Prophylactic Health Products and Novel Alternatives on Smallholder Aquaculture Farmers in Asia and Africa

Funding: Newton Fund Global Research Partnership (GRP) In Aquaculture AND KMFRI 

Brief Summary: The high demand for fish and fish products for domestic and export markets is driving intensification of aquaculture which is still dominated by small-holders in Africa. Ensuring effective health management has become the single most important challenge for sustainable intensification of the smallholder sector just as restrictions on antibiotic use are being imposed. Farmers are increasingly dependent on a proliferating range of prophylactic products (including pre and probiotics), often of uncertain provenance and efficacy. An independent cost-benefit assessment of the efficacy, costs and benefits of such products is urgently required. The project will assess the potential for novel low-cost alternatives to contribute to improved animal health and profitability of intensified smallholder operations.  A study on probiotics is being carried out in Sagana to determine its efficacy in low input ponds having received much attention as a new strategy in fish feeding and health management. 

Integrating insects in poultry and fish feeds in Kenya and Uganda (INSEED Project)

Funding: International Development Research Centre (ICDC), Canada 

Brief summary: The project is aimed at developing and testing insect-based feeds for the sustainable, safe, and cost-effective production of fish and poultry. The findings from this research will inform policy and support the development of appropriate national standards for use of insects as feed ingredients for poultry and fish.

Strengthening Regional Capacity in Research and Training in Fisheries and Aquaculture for Improved Food Security and Livelihoods in Eastern Africa (STRECAFISH)

Funding: Austrian Development Cooperation (under APPEAR funding Program) 

Brief Summary: The project goal is to build capacity in higher education and research institutions towards improved response of education to the fast moving aquaculture and fisheries industry. The project is funding a PhD study by Mr. Kevin Obiero and will be implemented for 3 years starting July 2015 to 2018 coordinated by University of Eldoret and Makerere University.

Upscaling Use of ICTs and Innovations to Support Aquaculture Market Development


Brief Summary: The project is aimed at mitigating aquaculture markets constraints through developing an Aquaculture Marketing Information Platform (AMIP) which is a web based tool to link up aquaculture stakeholders on real time (

Post-Harvest and Value Addition Technologies to Reduce Fish Losses in Aquaculture

Funding: KAPAP / KMFRI GoK Seed Fund 

Brief Summary: KMFRI Sagana is currently engaged in research on innovative technologies for value addition and reduction of post-harvest losses with the aim of enhancing aquaculture economic benefits. The Centre has developed 13 value added products, trained fish traders and hoteliers in the value chain on preparation of value added products to enhance farmer entrepreneurship. The value added products include, fish fingers, fish balls, fish pies, samosas, fish skewers, smoked, fried fish, sausages and fish gel, fish soup etc.

Opportunities for Collaboration, Partnerships and Community Engagement

KMFRI Sagana welcomes collaboration and partnership that will enhance knowledge generation for the benefit of the resource users. In the past, the Centre has collaborated with several institutions at local and international level. The Centre has networked and partnered with regional and global partners in proposal writing with the current funded project being INSIFEED coordinated by ICIPE. Previous projects collaborators include BOMOSA, KAPAP, VICRES, NCST, USAID and ASARECA as lead institution as well as a collaborator with other aquaculture value chain players. This partnership enables KMFRI to conduct trials of products in farmers’ ponds, dissemination of fish farming information, frequent visits to fish farmers by KMFRI scientists/Technicians and farmers visiting KMFRI aquaculture stations.

Key Achievements

  • Conducted growth trials to improve quality of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and Catfish (Clarias gariepinus) seeds and Broodstock through a selective breeding program. The Centre has developed F7 and F3 in Nile tilapia and catfish and distributed the selectively bred F6 and F2 to farmers in 21 Counties for on-farm growth performance to promote higher yields.
  • Developed thirteen value added products and a recipe book for fish products and an improved fish smoking kiln.
  • Fish feed ingredient research, focusing mainly on agricultural and industrial by-products to assess their suitability for incorporation in the preparation and formulation of fish feeds. Six types of feeds have been formulated using locally available feed ingredients and farmers trained on how to formulate and produce the feeds and the farm level.
  • Investigating culture potential of new and adoptive culture species e.g. Labeo victorianus and Oreochromis jipe and techniques for enhanced fish production in ponds, tanks, raceways, cages and pen culture.
  • Installation of an Internet Server at the Centre and development of a website ( for users to link aquaculture farmers with markets.
  • Conducting a baseline survey on cage status in the lake (Kenyan waters) and working closely with regional research institutes (NAFIRI and TAFIRI) and other stakeholders of the East Africa Community partner states in developing cage culture guidelines and regulations.
  • Collaboration and Partnerships with a number of institutions at international, regional and national levels to mobilize resources develop and implement projects and build human and technical capacity at the institute and share skills, experiences and research outputs with various stakeholders.


The Centre is intensifying its efforts towards diversifying aquaculture through commercially viable indigenous species in the different agro-ecological zones to maintain ecological integrity of the natural water bodies. There is also need to upscale production of dams in Central and Eastern Kenya already stocked with Large Mouth Bass and Common Carp for commercial aquaculture. There are plans to intensify on feed production for various species and fish sizes to accompany live fish sales to grow-out farms and hatcheries. To improve on information dissemination, there is need to develop a simple manual/ farmers guide for grow-out farmers considering management challenges associated with fish farming. A gene bank with well secured facilities is a necessity since KMFRI Sagana has the facilities and constant water supply. 

Center Director
Ms. Domitila Kyule-Muendo
Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute
Sagana Research Center
P.O Box 451-10230
Sagana, KENYA

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