Who has ever opened a huge crab claw just to find very little meat inside? Each one of you for sure! After that disappointment, Justin Aniere, owner of Che Shale Hotel and Restaurant, located 25km from Malindi town, came up with the idea of The Kenya Crab Farm (Crabs Alive).
After some research, Justin found out that, while crabs grow to fill the space inside their shell, they can't grow more than that. Periodically, the crab must shed its shell and develop a new and bigger shell in a process called moulting. The new shell is soft, flexible and expands to a bigger size by filling the crab's body cavity with water. Once the crab shell starts to harden, the crab will resume feeding. Soon the crab will consume enough food to restore its fat reserves and replace the excess water in its shell with meat. To ensure that the crabs he was serving in his restaurant were meaty enough, Justin started a small crab farm after being taught by crab farmers in Thailand and Malaysia.
The idea has grown; from simply supplying his restaurant, to a sustainable farming technique that provides locals with new skills and a stable income whilst also protecting the environment.
At the Crab Hatchery, Justin and his team are working at producing juvenile crabs. With a couple of successful hatchings under his belt, and with the survival rate increasing each time, this is no mean feat. In the wild, crabs can produce up to 6 million eggs in one hatching, and with a survival rate of only 10%, Justin's team is attempting to recreate the perfect environment to ensure a high success rate. A Recycling Aqua System purifies seawater pumped from the Indian Ocean; this keeps the water free from any microscopic predators. The purified water is then used to raise crab larvae, hatched from crab eggs. The larvae are fed from microscopic aquatic animals (rotifers) & algae, until they reach crablet stage, which can take 25-30days. They are then fed small fish and snails and moved into a nursery pond until they reach the size of about 50g. Roughly 60 days from hatching, the crablets are ready for the local crab farmers to purchase and take them to their own grow out farms for fattening until they reach final market size (about 300-500g). This can be achieved either in a liner pond or an earthen pond, with each crab being separated into their own boxes, which are then placed onto a floating tray, to prevent cannibalism.
The Kenya Crab Farm is supplying outgrow farmers with crablets from the hatchery which make that farming process sustainable, as well as being able to release crablets into the mangroves to increase the wild population.
The programme is supported by Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Bank and the Kenyan Fisheries Department.
More information on www.thekenyacrabfarm.com