Fish farmers in Busia County have been urged to ensure that fish produced in the County is consumed at household level with only the surplus left for sale.
This follows a baseline survey carried out by Egerton University in conjunction with the Kenya Marine Research Institute and Maseno University which revealed that 70 per cent of farmers in the County sell their entire proceeds in the market.
Speaking to stakeholders during a two-day training workshop at Wakhungu in Samia Sub County on Wednesday, the Clinical, Nutrition and Dietetics Lecturer at Egerton University Dr. Maureen Cheserek said that there is a need to educate farmers on dietary diversity and value addition of fish.
“Farmers should develop the culture of eating fish, diversify their diet and adopt value addition to improve their incomes and nutrition,” she said.
Dr. Cheserek added that the Kenya Climate Smart Agricultural Project was trying to promote a commercially viable Aquaculture industry through validation of innovative fish marketing, value addition and post-harvest technologies in Busia, Siaya and Kakamega counties.
“Our main objective is to increase availability, access and consumption of nutrient rich fish among women, youth and young children,” she said.
She noted that most women were consuming poor quality diets with only a third of them consuming a balanced diet.
“We need our women to be educated on which foods can make a balanced diet,” she said, adding that the County government should sensitize the women on behavior change so that children can utilize the nutritious food available in the County.
The official further stated that the County had a double burden of malnutrition with both women and children being malnourished.
Dr. Cheserek further said that more women should be empowered to engage in aquaculture adding that they are better placed to change the nutritional behavior of their children.
She urged both the fisheries and health departments to work together with a view to improve the nutrition outcomes of women and children.
“We are also recommending that we have nutrition education for this and we have developed education materials that can be used by both the fisheries and health staff that they can use to educate the CHVs as well as lead farmers during the second part of our project,’ she said.
The official further called for a social behavior change communication strategy in the County to help change the behavior of the locals.
“We have noted in our baseline that they perceive so many things differently around fish and we really need to help them so that they know that they need to eat fish and diversify their diet,” she explained.
Busia County Deputy Nutrition Coordinator Vincent Kwena said that the initiative by the KCSAP to validate marketing, value addition and post-harvest technologies for improved food and nutrition was a vital project for the County in terms of improvement of diet by the local residents.
‘We need value-added fish products instead of exporting our fish to other people to add value to them,” he said.
By Salome Alwanda