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Daniel Kihuga and the Mountain Fish

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At 72 years old, Daniel Kihuga's dreams about fish are finally coming true.

Years ago, when the septuagenarian smallholder farmer was a regional salesman for the bread company Elios, he traveled to Kisumu, a city on the edge of Lake Victoria dominated by the Luo people. There, he was first introduced to fish farming, an industry that dominated the region, from the shores of the lake to the slopes of the surrounding mountains.

Fishing in the mountains sounds like swimming in the desert, but in western Kenya it is not only possible, but also popular.

A farmer will construct a small square pit on their land, fill it with water, and buy some spawn to nurture and eventually harvest. For maize and bean farmers like Mr. Kihuga and his wife Miriam, it provides an alternative source of income and a healthy addition to their diet.

But to build a pond, fetch and contain the water, buy and feed the fish, and more is an expensive enterprise. Many farmers, who make a fine living growing crops and raising livestock, judge the whole business senseless or wasteful.

Still, driven by a steadfast passion for and keen interest in a field he knew so little about--nothing, beyond how to dig a hole--Mr. Kihuga had been saving ever since that trip in the late 1980s. And in 2011, the father of seven joined a self help group of like-minded farmers and for the first time received training and support.

His dream was given guidance and structure, fueling the fire and inspiring Mr. Kihuga to build two more ponds and buy 1000 fish. After years of savings and with only one child in college left, he was financially capable of hauling in his chimerical catch.

Now, nearly one year later, he sits on the eve of his first harvest with confidence. After spending upwards of 50,000 Kenyan shillings on supplies, labor, and spawn, he hopes to make half of that cost back in the first year and break even in 2013.

With big dreams come big expenses, but also high hopes.

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